The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. has worked almost 100 years to support people who are blind, by providing job opportunities, support and promoting accessibility. This manufacturing social enterprise stands on the philosophy that every employee deserves the support necessary for success in the workplace.
Since its founding in 1918, The Lighthouse for the Blind has worked tirelessly through social enterprise developments and community programs to support those facing obstacles in finding accessible jobs and building self-sufficient lives. They currently employ over 470 individuals, out of which more than half are blind, DeafBlind or blind with other disabilities. Aside from providing employment opportunity, the social enterprise supports the visually impaired community through a variety of internal initiatives — including an in-house sign language interpreting department to ensure effective communication for DeafBlind employees, staff mobility instructors to teach independent travel, 100 computer workstations adapted for use by individuals who are blind, computer training classes and a community program educating elementary school students about blindness. Employees and community participants do not pay any fees for Lighthouse programs and services.
The full scope of Lighthouse for the Blind programming includes:
DeafBlind Program – including a retreat, community classes, education, independent living skills training and internship opportunities for DeafBlind individuals or interpreting students.
Ethel L. Dupar’s Fragrant Garden – designed specifically for people who are blind or DeafBlind, with fragrant plants that appeal both to the sense of smell and touch.
As a successful manufacturing organization, The Lighthouse produces aerospace parts, office supplies, SKILCRAFT Products, plastic injection molding and operates six Base Supply Centers on military bases, employing visually impaired individuals in areas with little nonprofit support for the blind. They also provide services like appointment setting, quality assurance, account reconciliation, contract closeout and more to organizations like the Defense Contract Management Agency, Federal Government and U.S. Military. The goal is to provide quality work for customers while creating and enhancing opportunity.
This is not just a charity, it goes well beyond that. It does an excellent job of empowering people to take command of their own lives.
When a person who is blind or visually impaired applies to work at The Lighthouse, they are able to do so based on their interest and qualifications, without having to worry about accommodation — whether blind, DeafBlind or blind with another disability. The Accessibility Program exists to provide the necessary equipment, support, information, accessible technology and training to meet employees’ workplace needs. An Accessibility Manager works with all employees to educate about requirements for accommodation and advise best practices and needs for accessibility in the workplace.
The organization also employs full-time American Sign Language Interpreters skilled in working with the DeafBlind. In addition, their Supported Employment program provides job opportunities to blind adults with developmental disabilities by assigning job coaches who work alongside the employees. These coaches provide instruction, guidance and support to help employees succeed in their positions. There are approximately 25 blind and DeafBlind adults with developmental disabilities employed at The Lighthouse through the Supported Employment Program.
The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. works hard to do more than produce products and provide services of outstanding quality. In the next 20 years, they hope to employ over 500 people who are blind in livable wage jobs, and help lower the unemployment rate of skilled people who are blind in communities across the nation.
To learn more about The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., check out their member directory profile.