By The Associated Press
CHICAGO - An Illinois government agency's call center is now being staffed by people who are blind or visually impaired.
The state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced Monday a two-year, $1.35 million contract with the nonprofit Chicago Lighthouse.
The call center is located at Chicago Lighthouse's headquarters, where blind and visually impaired employees are trained to route callers to the regulatory agency's licensing or enforcement offices.
The agency's annual call volume is estimated at more than 160,000. The department licenses and regulates more than 1 million professionals and businesses in Illinois.
The agency is contracting with Chicago Lighthouse through the State Use Program. That's a program designed to provide long-term employment opportunities for people working in nonprofit community rehabilitation facilities.