The Lighthouse for the Blind

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The Lighthouse for the Blind Inc. is a private, non-profit agency providing employment, support, and training opportunities for individuals who are blind, Deaf-Blind, and blind with other disabilities.

An affiliate of National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and a participant in the AbilityOne Program, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. has provided employment and support to blind individuals since 1918.[1] The mission of The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. is to create and enhance opportunities for independence and self-sufficiency for individuals who are blind, Deaf-Blind, or blind with other disabilities. Their aim is to provide employee with whatever supports are necessary for success in the workplace.

The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. currently employs nearly 400 individuals, more than 225 of whom have a visual disability. The organization's manufacturing operation, which includes its main production facility in Seattle and a satellite location in Spokane, focuses on high quality products for the federal government and aerospace parts for The Boeing Company and other aerospace manufacturers. In addition to the Seattle and Spokane facilities, the Lighthouse operates Base Supply Centers located on military installations.

Seattle Lighthouse[edit]

The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. offers employment opportunities for blind and Deaf-Blind individuals at every level of the organization. Mr. Kirk Adams is the first blind President and CEO in the organization's history.[2] Seattle Lighthouse produces aerospace parts for The Boeing Company and other aerospace clients.[3] Currently, over 45 blind and Deaf-Blind employees work in the Seattle Lighthouse machine shop assembling aircraft parts at suitably adapted work stations.[4]

Lighthouse manufacturing capabilities include conventional and computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining, radio frequency sealing and welding, injection molding, hydroform manufacturing, water-jet cutting, computer numerically controlled shearing, metal fabricating and riveting, non-metallic machining, welding, breakform, and Okuma Corporation CNC machining. Lighthouse aircraft parts have a 99.9% acceptance rate by The Boeing Company, and The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. is a two-time recipient of the Q100 award.[5]

Inland Northwest Lighthouse[edit]

In 2008, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. opened a manufacturing facility, Inland Northwest Lighthouse (INL) in Spokane, Washington [6] to create jobs for blind and visually impaired adults in the Eastern Washington area. INL currently employs over 40 individuals who are blind, Deaf-Blind, or blind with other disabilities. INL currently manufactures paper trimmers, aluminum binders, easels, and file folders. In addition, with ACCO Brands Corporation, employees manufacture Quartet©/SKILCRAFT© white boards and bulletin boards. Most recently, INL has begun to manufacture airplane parts for Triumph Composite.

Base Supply Centers[edit]

The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. also operates Base Supply Centers (BSCs) at US military bases under the name Express Supply. These act as agents for AbilityOne products and services, and provide employment opportunities for blind individuals in geographic areas not served by larger nonprofit agencies. The Lighthouse opened its first BSC in 1999. BSC sales provide manufacturing jobs for blind people throughout the country as well as retail and management jobs at the military installations.

Programs and services[edit]

Services include vocational computer training programs for blind employees and one-on-one computer classes for deaf-blind people. Seattle Lighthouse provides an in-house Sign Language Interpreting Services Department to ensure effective communication for deaf-blind employees and non-signing coworkers, a braille training program and reading group, and over 100 computer workstations adapted for use by visually impaired individuals. At all Lighthouse locations, staff mobility instructors teach independent travel with a white cane or dog guide. The Lighthouse also has outreach and educational programs for the community at large, including a nationally acclaimed deaf-blind retreat, deaf-blind community classes, as well as a local school program to educate elementary school students about blindness and deaf-blindness.

Orientation and mobility training[edit]

Employee and Community Services (ECS) programs at Seattle Lighthouse include an Orientation and Mobility Training program, a Braille Training Program and Lab, a Supported Employment Program, a Computer Training Program. Additionally, the Lighthouse has a Deaf-Blind Program focused on services to Deaf-Blind individuals.

Orientation and Mobility instructors assist blind and deaf-blind individuals in learning skills to travel independently and safely. 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 greater Seattle area, 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.

Braille training[edit]

Seattle Lighthouse provides a Braille Training Program to employees who need to learn or develop braille skills for work or independent living. The Braille Training Program is provided to employees free of charge, with instruction provided on an individual basis. The program also incorporates a reading group, meeting weekly to help expand and refresh employee braille skills. In 2009, Seattle Lighthouse began creating a Braille Library for program and general employee use, designed to help sharpen braille skills.

Supported Employment Program[edit]

Seattle Lighthouse also employs deaf-blind adults with developmental disabilities through the Supported Employment Program. Supported employees are usually referred by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, or the Department of Services for the Blind. Supported employees perform a wide range of jobs throughout the Seattle Lighthouse, including assembling, sorting, labeling, packing, and manufacturing items for federal customers, and are integrated throughout Lighthouse facilities. Supported employees are assigned a job coach. Additional support provided to employees who are blind with developmental disabilities include one-on-one training, job development training, adaptation of jobs to individual capabilities, supportive mechanisms to assist in task completion, strategies for effective communication, positive behavioral support, and independent living skills training.

Computer training[edit]

Seattle Lighthouse offers training in computers and assistive technology skills to blind employees through their Computer Training Program (CTP). The course of study emphasizes computer and assistive technology tools to be used in the workplace. Classes are either instructor-led or self-paced. Students learn to use assistive technology in conjunction with computer programs such as the Microsoft Office suite, virtual office programs, and the Internet for vocational employment and independent living skills. The Lighthouse also offers basic computer classes and keyboarding instruction.

Other programs[edit]

Seattle Lighthouse's nationally renowned Deaf-Blind Program includes Deaf-Blind Community Class, the Deaf-Blind Technology Training Center, and an annual Deaf-Blind Retreat. Deaf-Blind Community Classes provide a forum that gives members of the Deaf-Blind community access to basic information unavailable in their everyday lives. Students connect with each other, learn leadership and presentation skills, explore a wide range of subjects, and help American Sign Language interpreters develop Deaf-Blind interpreting skills. The Technology Training Center (TTC) at Seattle Lighthouse serves the Deaf-Blind community in building skills through the use of computers and assistive technologies. The TTC offers training on up-to-date assistive technologies for both work and independent living. For over 30 years the retreat has been held on the shores of Hood Canal WA at the Seabeck Conference Center.[7]


  1. ^ Rochester, Junius (2004-11-11). "the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History". Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  2. ^ Bartley, Nancy. "Local News | Blind CEO a Lighthouse first | Seattle Times Newspaper". Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  3. ^ Andrea Jame (2007-12-09). "Few realize Lighthouse is manufacturing plant". Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  4. ^ "Adapting And Advancing : Modern Machine Shop". 2005-02-16. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  5. ^ "Welcome to the Seattle Lighthouse". Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  6. ^ "Thanks for Lighthouse support". 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  7. ^ Grimley, Brynn. "Unlikely Cyclists Circle Lake Symington". Kitsap Sun. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 

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