Lighthouse International is a leading resource worldwide on vision impairment and vision rehabilitation. Through its pioneering work in vision rehabilitation services, education, research, prevention and advocacy, Lighthouse International enables people of all ages who are blind or partially sighted to lead independent and productive lives. Founded in 1905 and headquartered in New York, Lighthouse International is a not-for-profit organization that depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations and corporations.
The Lighthouse collaborates with global partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan-American Health Organization Program Advisory Group and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, to develop strategic plans that address the needs of 180 million people with vision impairment worldwide, and to meet the challenges of the growing global population who will experience age-related vision loss in the future.
The Lighthouse is a partner in WHO’s Vision 2020: The Right to Sight program to eliminate avoidable blindness worldwide in less than two decades.
The Lighthouse is establishing international Vision Rehabilitation Centers to train professionals in regions that lack vision rehabilitation resources. To date, centers have been established in India, Mexico and the Dominican Republic; five more will be created by 2004. The Low Vision SuperStoreTM is the largest distributor of professional low vision products and features 5,000 products by the world’s leading manufacturers.
User sessions for www.lighthouse.org increased 154 percent in one year to 406,556 in fiscal year 2001. The Lighthouse Web site has top-10 rankings in the 12 major search engines, including Google, HotBot, GoTo, YahooWeb, MSN and Lycos.
The Lighthouse is building on its Internet presence to harness the power of technology for people who are visually impaired through LighthouseLink. Using new accessibility technology, LighthouseLink will bridge the digital divide for people with vision loss, link them to vision rehabilitation resources in their home countries around the world and connect professionals to the latest advances and solutions in the care of people with impaired vision.
The Lighthouse is the only vision rehabilitation agency with a research capability. It is home to the Arlene R. Gordon Research Institute, where multidisciplinary investigators conduct vision, psychosocial and evaluation research. Work is funded by the National Eye Institute, the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Mental Health, the AARP/Andrus Foundation and others.
Each year, the Lighthouse trains approximately 400 professionals throughout the United States through continuing education programs in low vision care and vision rehabilitation. Courses draw on a comprehensive approach to vision rehabilitation and extensive clinical experience in the direct care of people across the continuum of vision loss.
The Lighthouse is the founding member and chair of the National Vision Rehabilitation Cooperative of 21 vision rehabilitation agencies across the United States. The Cooperative advocates for Medicare reimbursement for the services provided by orientation and mobility instructors, low vision therapists and rehabilitation teachers.
The Lighthouse established National Vision Rehabilitation Day (NVRD) in 1995 to raise public awareness of vision impairment and promote the benefits of vision rehabilitation. Harry Belafonte was the national spokesperson for NVRD 2001, which was cosponsored by 70 organizations across the United States.
The Lighthouse is a participant in the National Eye Institute’s Healthy People 2010 disease prevention initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Lighthouse raises awareness of vision loss and vision rehabilitation through publicity: Media impressions for fiscal year 2001 were approximately 400 million–vs. 24 million in fiscal year 1999–an increase of over 1,500 percent in two years. Through the national toll-free Information & Resource Service, (800) 829-0500, the Lighthouse distributes free information regarding vision loss and vision rehabilitation to over 30,000 callers a year and steers them to services in their home communities.
New York Lighthouse Vision Rehabilitation Services is the major provider of comprehensive vision rehabilitation services in the greater New York metropolitan area. Each year, through regional offices, the Lighthouse serves approximately 5,000 residents of Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, Long Island, Westchester and the Hudson Valley–totaling over 165,550 hours of service in fiscal year 2000. Services include early intervention and child development programs, counseling, career services, low vision services, orientation and mobility training, computer instruction and independent living programs. Lighthouse models of vision rehabilitation are tested in the Arlene R. Gordon Research Institute, refined and shared with professionals for replication globally. As a member of the New York State Coalition on Access to Quality Vision Rehabilitation Therapy, the Lighthouse is active in the Licensing Now! campaign to ensure high standards of education, training and competency for professionals providing vision rehabilitation services.