Mission: To advance the independence, opportunities, and quality of life for the more than 40,000 people in Pinellas County who are blind or visually impaired.
Programs: The largest program provided by lighthouse of pinellas is the independent living program. Its core purpose is to offer rehabilitative training and referrals to community resources to adults who have lost or are progressively losing their vision. This training gives them the opportunity to live independently in their homes and to travel safely in the community. An assessment is completed to determine the need of each individual by a highly trained case manager. This assessment determines the rehabilitative training services provided. Services such as adjustment to blindness counseling, orientation and mobility training, communication skills training, personal and home management, use of adaptive aids and training in their use, (continued on schedule o) (continued from 990, page 2, line 4a) self-management of diabetes, as well as use of adaptive computer technology are provided to each person enrolled in this program. This fiscal year 219 people received rehabilitative training services in the independent living program.
the second largest program offered by lighthouse of pinellas is the vocational rehabilitation program. When blindness or visual impairment occurs in the life of a person who has previously had a career, not only may a serious financial hardship occur but depression and a loss of self- esteem and self-worth is also very likely with such a life-changing event. Our vocational rehabilitation program provides services to help each person achieve their agreed upon employment goals. Services to accomplish this are individual assessments, job readiness training, orientation and mobility training, communication skills training, use of assistive computer technology, training in adaptive techniques for healthy and independent daily living, (continued on schedule o) (continued from 990, page 2, line 4b) as well as adjustment to vision loss counseling. This training is provided in the home, at the center, or in the community based upon the needs of each person. This fiscal year 54 people received services that assisted them towards achieving their employment goals.
the third largest program offered by lighthouse of pinellas is the early intervention program which serves children and their families from birth to 6 years of age who are blind or visually impaired. For most children 90% of their learning comes from vision. A child who is blind or visually impaired must learn about the world in other ways. Our comprehensive early intervention services for infants and young children help them learn to walk, feed and dress themselves, communicate and socialize with others, and gain a head start on a life of independence. The program also teaches the child's family to reinforce this learning at home. The goal of the program is to develop each child's ability to enter school with skills equal to their same-age peers or (continued on schedule o) (continued from 990, page 2, line 4c) to reduce any developmental gaps that may exist to the greatest extent possible. Children and their families may participate in the early intervention program until the child has achieved their highest level of functioning or until the child reaches the age of 6 years. This fiscal year 100 children and their families were served.
individual assistance: individual assistance is provided to people who need one-time support from our professional program staff. Assistance provided are things such as a home visit to replace a broken white cane, applying braille touch buttons to adapt a kitchen for someone who is visually impaired, or an intake interview for other community services when the individual is not eligible for lighthouse of pinellas services. This fiscal year 65 people received one-time individual assistance services from lighthouse of pinellas professional staff. Teen transition program: teenagers 14 years of age through their high school graduation are eligible to participate in this program. Services are offered twice a week during the school year and for four weeks during the summer. This program helps each young person learn to become self-sufficient and prepare for college, job placement or vocational training. Once-a-month field trips are also offered. Skills such as personal, financial, and home management; how to complete a job application; interview skills and use of adaptive computer technology are learned throughout the school year. The summer program gives the students the experience of visiting a college campus for a week to learn first-hand what life on a college campus is all about. Students have the opportunity to practice home management skills in a different but realistic environment. This helps them to learn how to get around safely on the campus and how to adapt the orientation and mobility training they have received to master new experiences. Students in the summer transition program are able to participate in a paid work experience to develop job skills and gain valuable employment experience. This fiscal year 14 young people participated in the teen transition program. Veterans administration: veterans receive all services offered in the adult program, but should an individual require additional computer training, the veterans administration did fund this additional training beyond what is offered in the independent living program. This fiscal year 1 veteran received additional computer training.
Professional with expertise in this field
Lighthouse of Pinellas, Inc. has received accreditation from the National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services (NAC). NAC is the only accrediting body that solely focuses on standards and best practices for blind and low vision services with the consumer in mind. Lighthouse of Pinellas has demonstrated that it meets or exceeds the standards set by NAC for delivery of blind and low vision services. The determination for accreditation is a rigorous process that involves self-examination by the organization, an on-site peer review to verify processes and procedures by a team of professionals serving in the field and a review of the findings by the NAC Accreditation Committee. NAC congratulates Lighthouse of Pinellas on its accredited status.
About 7 years ago, a former coworker friend invited me to join a Board Committee at Lighthouse. I had previously volunteered for a few events for the children's programs and had always been impressed with the mission/vision and committment level of the staff and volunteers. Once I became involved and saw first-hand how this agency TRULY helps those who are blind or visually impaired, there was no turning back! The life- changing programs and support provided by this agency are unparalled. Please think for a moment about what it would be like to be unable to see the food on your plate or the faces of your loved ones. Lighthouse provides practical living skills and HOPE to anyone in Pinellas County who is experiencing visual impairment.