January is National Braille Literacy Month and we still have time to celebrate. In today’s Feel Good Friday we’ll learn about an organization with a braille literacy program, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.
Founded in 1918, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. is “a private, not-for-profit social enterprise providing employment, support, and training opportunities for people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities.” They are the largest employer of blind employees West of the Mississippi and the largest employer of individuals who are DeafBlind in the United States.
As they explain on their website, they focus on employment because “seven out of every ten adults who are blind are unemployed. For people who are DeafBlind, the unemployment number climbs to over 80% and for people with multiple disabilities, over 90%.”
The Lighthouse has three manufacturing locations in Washington and South Carolina where workers produce “an array of machined parts and plastic injection molding for various aerospace manufacturers, as well as a host of office products and hydration equipment sold to the Federal Government and the U.S. Military.” They also provide managed and administrative services to commercial, federal and military customers, as well as own and operate supply stores on military bases along the West Coast. This news story from King 5 in Seattle gives a good overview.
In addition to providing employment opportunities, the Lighthouse offers a wide range of programs and services for employees who are blind and DeafBlind. Examples include training in braille and access to the Braille Reading Library as part of the Braille Literacy Program, computer training classes, orientation and mobility training to help employees travel independently and safely, guide dog training and additional programs to support DeafBlind employees.
You can read the Lighthouse employee success stories at this link to see how a focus on accessibility, independence and empowerment are making an impact. If you’d like to help the Lighthouse for the Blind make an impact, you can do that with a donation and by supporting them on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @Lighthouse_Inc and Instagram @thelighthousefortheblind_inc.