WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Recaning chairs, refurbishing fire extinguishers and growing enough produce to feed an entire neighborhood.

Where can you find these seemingly unrelated tasks under one roof?

On Wheeling’s Main Street, where the Seeing Hand Association is a one-stop job training shop for the blind and visually impaired.

The 87-year-old non-profit has expanded its services for the disabled under its Executive Director, Karen Haught, who will be bringing her mission to the entire state with her appointment to the West Virginia State Rehabilitation Council.

It represents a shift for her from serving a small city organization to a state of 1.7 million—but her goal will remain unchanged.

“Make sure that all disabled persons receive the vocational rehabilitation that they need to help them become successful and employable.”

Karen Haught, Executive Director, Seeing Hand Association

Haught joins a council of disability advocates from all over the state—who help shape policy so that limitations in learning, hearing and communicating aren’t roadblocks to earning an honest living.

She’s worked with the visually impaired for over a decade—and is determined to help them power our workforce.

“They face a 70% unemployment rate, and we do our best to help them be productive lives, earn a little bit of money and have a place to come to work.”

Karen Haught, Executive Director, Seeing Hand Association

But finding employment means being able to get there—and she says she wants the state to improve its transportation for the disabled.

Thankfully, she has experience leveraging Wheeling’s public options for Seeing Hand.

“We’re blessed because we provide tokens or bus passes for our employees. But not all disabled people across the state have that option.”

Karen Haught, Executive Director, Seeing Hand Association

It’s all part of the work she says will never be finished until opportunities grow for the disabled…
Finding ways for their skilled hands to weave lives of fulfillment and independence.