Before Melvin Googe was able to use the new software and equipment for the visually impaired at the Goodwill Job Connection office, he said he sat at home a lot, depressed because no one would give him a chance at a job.


“Mr. Melvin, to me, is an inspiration,” said Jennifer Hart, community director for the Aiken Goodwill campus. “He is fantastic. As a retail associate he tags clothing, gets them on and off the floor, gets hangers and looks for spots on the clothing.”


Due to a donation from the South Carolina Commission for the Blind, Googe can now access five computers at the Goodwill Job Center with Zoom Text and Enhanced Vision software, aside from his walking stick and a device he carries on his hip which can magnify words and pictures. Zoom Text and Enhanced Vision allow job seekers to be able to read printed material and helps those with visual impairment have full access to job opportunities and training workshops.


“Between these two pieces of equipment, it really provides full access for those who are visually impaired,” Hart said. “I look at it in terms of how difficult is the job market and what can someone do who has trouble seeing fill out an application or view a job posting?”


The software offers different color combinations for those who cannot view black writing on white paper and may need to read white writing on black paper. With Enhanced Vision, according to Hart, software users can change colors to fit their particular needs. Users can make the text bigger or smaller and move the magnifying glass toward a white board or a presentation at the front of a workshop class.


“We want users of the software to be able to train and learn what jobs are out there, job readiness and interview and dress skills,” Hart said.


Goodwill Job Center offers four core workshops taught Monday through Friday every week. Additional workshops include GED and ESL classes, computer workshops in both English and Spanish, financial workshops and a dress for success program. The job center also partners with the Aiken Warrior Project.


“We’re thrilled with the partnership with S.C. Commission for the Blind,” Hart said. “It helps change lives, change communities and families. Each individual that we can provide access for is meaningful. That’s a win for us.”


Goodwill is located at 1015 Pine Log Road.


For more information, visit the Aiken Goodwill Job Connection center, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or visit www.goodwillworks.org.


Maayan Schechter is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in July. She graduated from the University of North Carolina Asheville with a degree in mass communications – journalism.