Ceciphone Contact looks like any other call center, with employees busily talking into headsets. There is a difference that is not obvious at first glance, however. According to the company, approximately 80 percent of their employees have a visual impairment.
While there certainly are challenges adapting the call center environment for people with visual impairment, Ceciphone felt the investment was worth it because they were able to hire highly motivated employees—a big benefit in this high-turnover industry.
The first steps the company took was customizing a call center software program called Nixxis (News - Alert)—which includes adaptions for the visually impaired, including text-to-speech—and adding Braille consoles to workstations. These adaptions enable a visually impaired call center employee to read the script in two ways. The companies say the customer on the other end of the line will never know they are speaking with someone with a visual impairment.
Potential employees must be able to maintain a high level of concentration on the job, as the call center agents will hear the customer's voice in one ear and a reading of the script from the text-to-speech module in the other. The Braille console transcribes the information displayed on the screen and allows the employee to check the recorded data.
Located in the region of Bordeaux, France, Ceciphone has achieved the status of “Suitable Company” from France’s National Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired (UNADEV). According to UNADEV, approximately 50 percent of the visually impaired population of France is unemployed.
The success of Ceciphone’s employees may give other call centers more reasons to adapt their work environments to employees with disabilities.
“We need to do everything we can to help a person with disabilities and with the mobility and mental elements necessary to work,” explained René Breton, president of UNADEV. “Because when you work, you feel better and can make plans."
Edited by Cassandra Tucker