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. The Lighthouse has provided employment and support to people who are blind since 1918. Our philosophy maintains that each employee be provided with whatever supports are necessary for success in the workplace. Supports include an in-house sign language interpreting department to ensure effective communication for employees who are deafblind, staff orientation and mobility instructors to teach independent travel with a white cane or dog guide, and over 100 computer workstations adapted for use by individuals who are visually impaired, in addition to computer training to prepare employees for success on the job.

The Lighthouse Accessibility Program Services team provides the necessary equipment, human supports, information, technology, and training in the appropriate formats to meet our employees’ needs while at work. The Accessibility team also evaluates and educates both new and current employees about accommodation options, assessing workstation and/or job sites to identify barriers, research solutions to those barriers, and recommend organizational accommodations needs, such as ZoomText or JAWS version. In addition, recommendations are made for facility accessibility improvements as well as implementing best practice and policy development all with the goal of creating an accessible work environment that allow all employees full access to and knowledge of the tools needed to excel in the job, successfully positioning employees strive for roles of increased responsibility.

The Computer Training Program (CTP) exists to increase and support the independence, self-sufficiency, and upward mobility of adults who are blind and low vision in the workplace through appropriate training and access to computer technology. The course of study is highly individualized and emphasizes computer and assistive technology tools to be used in the workplace. Class structures are primarily 1:1 instructor led, with occasional small group classes.

All Employee and Community Services (ECS) programming offers each individual the opportunity to increase their skills in an environment that supports independence, choice, and control over matters impacting each participant. The Computer Training Program (CTP) offers assessment and training on current assistive technology and computer programs including typing and keyboarding, introduction to computers, Microsoft Office Suite, Optical Character Recognition reading devices, iPhone VoiceOver/Siri, Android Talkback, and refreshable braille displays.

Orientation and Mobility (O&M) instructors assist individuals who are blind and deafblind in learning skills to travel independently and safely to and from work, as well as throughout the community. Skills instruction includes white cane travel, bus and street route planning, electronic travel aid training, and supplemental guide dog training. Orientation and Mobility instructors meet the needs of numerous employees as they navigate through the ever-changing transit landscape of the various Lighthouse locations, providing ongoing route planning and safe travel techniques. Orientation and Mobility training includes bus travel, route planning, assistive technology assessment, safety techniques for low-vision travelers, relocation and route planning for new community members, and supplemental training for guide-dog users.

Lighthouse employees make aerospace parts, office products, and a myriad of other machined products for customers including various Federal government organizations such as the Department of Defense, and commercial firms including The Boeing Company, Triumph Composite Systems, Inc., and BAE Systems.

By receiving supports and services Lighthouse employees have the opportunity to build a solid foundation of successful employment, paving the way to a wide range of career opportunities and/or comprehensive training programs, like the AJAC Aerospace Joint Apprentice program, to create products of outstanding quality for Lighthouse customers.

Nearly 70 years ago, the Lighthouse machine shop began operation, having been a continual contractor with The Boeing Company since 1952. Today, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. is an ISO9001 and AS9100 accredited and ITAR registered, employing LEAN practices in all our manufacturing processes and more than 70 machinists who are blind and deafblind. Proven through customer ratings, the Lighthouse consistently delivers high quality, on-time, competitively priced components, assemblies, and services. We utilize the latest systems including CATIA V5 3D Modeling (as well as others) and supply a wide range of products for the aerospace commercial and defense industries specializing in Precision Machining, Assembly, Injection Mold and creating products branded with the SKILCRAFT label.

We also provide managed services like appointment setting, quality assurance, account reconciliation, contract close out, and other administrative services for customers like the US Navy and the Defense Contract Management Agency.

In addition, the Lighthouse owns and operates over 14 AbilityOne Base Supply Centers located on military bases up and down the West Coast, where we sell mission critical supplies to the military.

People Who Are Blind Power Everything We Do.

This article is made possible in part by generous funding from the James H. and Alice Teubert Charitable Trust, Huntington, West Virginia.

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