By Suzanne Le Mignot

CHICAGO (CBS) — While the unemployment rate in Illinois hovers around 6.3 percent, that number takes a massive jump among the blind and visually impaired–to at least 60 percent.

CBS 2’s Suzanne LeMignot reports on a suburban non-profit that is trying to improve that number by offering three help.

Krista Erickson is legally blind, and she worked as a blind services coordinator for a non-profit for 15 years until she was recently let go.

Now, she’s taking online courses through a non-profit organization, Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Winnetka.

She’s learning Excel and networking skills, which she describes as “very, very helpful, because those are skills you absolutely have to have.”

Her goal is to use what she’s learning in her business and technology classes in her pursuit of work as a paralegal.

“I hope employers know also that people who are blind can do a lot, can do the same jobs, as anyone else, if we have the right kind of assistive technology,” Erickson said.

Erickson is one of more than 10,000 people worldwide taking free courses through Hadley’s Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship.

Colleen Wunderlich is the director of the program, which she says is critical for the blind and visually impaired.

“People realize that through their own self-determination and discipline, self-study and guidance we provide they can work, or start their own business.”

Those taking part in the programs have done everything from forming companies centered around products they’ve invented to working in a field of their choosing.