National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) celebrates workforce contributions made by people with disabilities and their ingenuity in finding solutions for themselves and their companies. For over 50 years, PRIDE has witnessed and supported these efforts, seeing firsthand the benefits from a diverse workforce of dedicated employees of all abilities. Ray Muro, who has been PRIDE’s warehouse expert at Fort Bliss since 2007 and is also legally blind, is one such employee.
Before joining PRIDE, Ray earned an Associate degree in Human Services and Liberal Arts and a Bachelor’s degree in Multi-Disciplinary Studies from the University of Texas, El Paso. Despite his qualifications and enthusiasm, Ray could not find a permanent job due to misconceptions about his disabilities.
Ray was born with Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), an eye disease common in premature babies. It causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina and can lead to blindness, as it did with Ray, who has been blind since childhood. Working-age adults with significant vision loss have a 30% employment rate.
Hired as a Stock Clerk in the Self-Help shop, Ray helps PRIDE’s military customers access parts such as paint or batteries, registers customers into the database, and categorizes new supplies. To master his position and make it easier for him to navigate the shop, Ray spent two weeks labeling everything with braille stickers to serve customers faster.
“When I attended college, I didn’t have access to braille books, so I had to use speech technology or a reader,” said Ray. “But braille often works better. It’s such a powerful tool to help people who are blind navigate the visual world.”
Ray is an expert in the shop; he has the entire layout and inventory memorized. He knows all the stock numbers by heart and types them into a braille notetaker to track distribution and verify inventory during cycle counts. For assistance with reading screen communication, Ray uses JAWS, a computer screen reader that provides speech and Braille output for computer applications on your PC.
“When I first joined PRIDE, I was impressed with how quickly Ray was able to find and retrieve items,” said Lorena Ramos, Warehouse Supervisor. “He recognizes every customer that walks in, and we always receive feedback for his friendly attitude and excellent work.”
For over a decade, Ray’s exemplary customer service to our country’s military personnel and visitors to Fort Bliss is one of the many ways PRIDE employees represent the spirit of NDEAM to every day.