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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

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Lighthouse of Southwest Florida, Inc. - AFB Directory Profile

General Information

Lighthouse of Southwest Florida, Inc.
35 West Mariana Avenue
North Fort Myers, FL 33903
(239) 997-7797 (Local)
(239) 997-8462 (Fax)

Brief Description

Lighthouse of SWFL is the designated community resource provider of training and rehabilitation services for the blind and visually impaired that live in Lee, Hendry, and Glades counties in Florida. We provide services from birth until end of life.

Lighthouse SWFL offers rehabilitation services that help babies, children, teenagers and adults adjust and cope with vision loss. Lighthouse holds classes and provides training throughout Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties of Florida. Lighthouse offers activities of daily living, braille, eccentric viewing training (reading), assistive technology, orientation and mobility, social services, counseling, arts and crafts classes, festive events, family education and community outreach activities.

Hours of operation: Mon.-Thurs. 7:30 AM-5:30 PM
Clients served on average per year: 400
Number of staff: 21
Staff description: 14 full-time, 3 part-time and a small army of volunteers.
Geographic area served: Lighthouse SWFL is the designated blind/low vision community resource provider for Lee, Hendry and Glades counties in SouthWest Florida.
Publications: newsletter, brochures, reports, etc.


Doug Fowler, Executive Director,
Susan Hoffman, Administrative Services Coordinator,

Services Offered

  • Services for Students
    • Has a year-round Transition Program for young people between 14-22 years of age. Program includes acomprehensive range of services as determined by individual client's needs and goals.
  • Services for Adults

    • Assessment
      • Eligibility determination and needs assessment performed by trainee and qualified staff member.
    • Computer Training/Assistive Technology
      • Advances in computer and internet technology are introducing new tools for the visually impaired and the blind at a rapid pace. The Lighthouse of SWFL teaches clients how to use and access computers, tablets, iPads and iPhones, despite their visual impairment, by learning how to use and access the screen magnification program and screen reading programs that are built into the devices at no extra cost. Clients can learn how to access email, a calendar, books, video magnifiers, color identifiers, money identifiers, a talking calculator, and more. As one of the fastest growing areas in the field, the Assistive Technology Department can teach clients how to apply adaptive software and tech devices for everyday use.
    • Counseling
      • The Lighthouse of SWFL offers services addressing psychological and social issues related to vision loss to clients and family members. The agency provides weekly group and family counseling with individual counseling available by appointment. These counseling sessions focus on the adjustments to blindness from the perspective of the individual experiencing the loss. Family members are allowed to share their thoughts and concerns with others in similar situations. (Strict confidentiality is maintained.) Individual and Family counseling provides clients and family members an opportunity to explore their concerns. It also addresses advocacy, self-advocacy, and problem-solving skills development. Sessions are offered on an on-going basis. During assessments, when appropriate, referrals to outside partner agencies are given.
    • Daily Living Skills/Independent Living Skills Training
      • Provides training in activities of daily living, braille, typing, handwriting, remedial education, home management, sensory training. Services provided primarily at the center. Refers and provides consultation to other agencies for rehabilitation services.
    • Employment/Job Training
      • Offers job development for computer students.
    • Low Vision Services
      • Offers screening for magnification. Low vision practitioner available.
    • Recreation Services
      • Offers arts and crafts programs, special interest events, speakers and activities, trips, and weekend programs.
    • Services for Seniors
      • Offers a broad range of services for older clients interested in pursuing either vocational or personal goals.
    • Travel/Orientation and Mobility
      • Orientation & Mobility is a fancy title for learning how to get around when you can’t see where you’re going. Orientation is the ability to understand your body’s position and location relative to other points in the environment. Where am I, and which way am I facing? Where is that hallway, and which way is it running? That’s Orientation. Mobility is the safe and effective movement of the body. Now that I know where I am, how do I get to where I want to go without falling over things, running into things and hurting myself in the process? The Lighthouse of SWFL has an Internationally Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialists on staff who can teach you: • How to get around your home • How to walk down a street with no sidewalks • How to locate what you’re looking for such as the mailbox? • How to cross all kinds of streets • How to get to and from stores • How to shop in stores by yourself • How to take public transportation

    Services for Children

    • Braille and Reading Instruction
      • Offers braille instruction by certified teacher.
    • Early Intervention/Infant Services
      • Blind Babies Basic Information:

        Who: Kids under the age of 5 with bilateral vision impairment that impacts their ability to function independently, regardless of additional disabilities.
        Where: In the home or community based (non-public school associated) activity.
        When: At the discretion of the family- up to once a week, minimum of once a month.
        What: Specialized instruction and assistance to the family to help them maximize the use of their child’s vision and abilities to achieve greater independence. Introduction to pre-literacy and technology skills. Empowering the family to learn and teach skills to the child. Reinforcement of sensory modalities. Pre-mobility and social skills. Self-help skills (feeding, dressing, simple snacks) as appropriate. Management of a secondary disabilities. Resource gathering and finding. Collaboration between providers. Assistance with transition into pre-school/ESE services. Assistance with referral to specialists and other providers. Why: When a family is empowered to understand their child’s disability (es) they can begin to pass on that empowerment to the children. As an Early Intervention Specialists, it is our belief that parents are the best teachers and know their children best- this creates an environment that fosters collaboration and how best to meet future academic and non-academic outcomes for success for their child and advocacy skills.
        How: Referrals for children under the age of 5 and their families, who are interested in participating in this program should be EMAILED or TEXTED the Early Intervention Specialist with the child’s and parents name, phone number address and reason for referral, including a vision diagnosis.

    • Employment/Job Training
      • Transition services are provided to students ages 14 through 22 who are currently being served by the school system under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and/or through the Division of Blind Services. The Transition Program provides students with skills and experiences to facilitate successful transition from high school to post-secondary activities, such as college, vocational school and employment. Through summer work programs to job coaching and Access Technology training, Transition services promote personal and professional advancement and help teens compete with their sighted peers and achieve future self-sufficiency. Everyday skills to promote independence are also addressed including: cooking, future planning, learning strategies, use of remaining vision, orientation and mobility, problem-solving, social skills, sports/leisure, workforce readiness, and career exploration. The Transition Program engages students to reach beyond their limits and to educate the community on the abilities of individuals living with vision impairment and blindness, rather than focus on disabilities. Activities such as camping, water skiing and other water sports, boating, paintball, and a night at the opera are just a few of the activities our students experience, further teaching them that no obstacle is too great to overcome. Transition services provide participants with the opportunity to develop positive self-esteem, communication, independence, self-advocacy, and employability skills.
    • Summer/Day Camps and After-school Programs
      • The Children’s Program serves children ages six through twelve living with blindness and vision impairment. The program emphasizes the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC), which promotes independence. Children in the program have a specialized service plan that is developed to meet each child’s goals and needs. The children’s program works with each child individually or in a group setting depending on their needs. With the goal of promoting independence, children are taught the ECC components, which include assistive technology, compensatory skills (including communication modes), career skills, recreation and leisure skills, orientation and mobility skills, social skills, sensory efficiency skills, self-determination, and independent living skills. These skills fall outside of the general education curriculum, but are crucial for children who are visually impaired. During the summer months, there will be a summer camp that each child can attend that will focus on further development of the ECC skills.

    Services for Professionals

    • Personnel Preparation
      • We proudly partner with colleges around the country offering soon-to-be graduates of TVI, COMS, CVRT, CLVT and CATIS programs, unpaid internships in a variety of roles across the lifespan and spectrum working with people who have vision impairments. All internships are supervised by certified and highly experienced staff and focus on empowerment and identification of best practices and development of teaching style.
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