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History of Miami Lighthouse

Highlights of Current Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired Programs

Founded in 1931 as the Florida Association of Workers for the Blind, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired has changed more than just its name during its 85-year history as Florida’s premier rehabilitation organization of serving the blind. Miami Lighthouse now serves nearly 15,000 people each year and reaches and additional 3,300 through community education and outreach programs. With the merger of the Miami Dade Optometric Physicians Association’s Dr. Bruce Heiken Memorial Fund in 2007, the mission was expanded to include comprehensive eye exams and prescription glasses for underserved schoolchildren throughout Florida using our fleet of mobile eye care units and network of optometrists.

Innovative new programs for all ages have empowered a wider range of people ranging from mothers’ play days with their blind toddlers to adult education/GED and ESOL classes for adults offered in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Health monitoring, arts and recreation are offered daily to visually impaired seniors as part of a Miami-Dade County and Florida Division of Blind Services elder care program. As the recipient of one of the highly coveted Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Awards for innovation in health care, Miami Lighthouse was invited to apply for and was subsequently awarded their “Advance Innovation and Promote Solutions in the Health Care System” grant which provides low vision assessments at senior centers throughout Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, continuing education for health care professionals working with seniors affected by age-related eye disease and an expanded internship program with Florida International University building upon other academic collaborations throughout the United States. Its nationally recognized music inclusion program with its state-of-the-art sound studio prepares students for higher education and employment in the mainstream music industry. Changing focus from its original sheltered workshop model, the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind has built a strong job readiness training program to prepare its clients for competitive, integrated employment.

With a priority for early learning, this fall Miami Lighthouse launched its pre-kindergarten pilot program for visually impaired children and their sighted peers, and construction has begun on our new Lighthouse Learning Center for Children™. To view building progress, please visit the “Learning Center Contraction” tab. Adjacent to our main building and slated to open fall semester 2017, this new facility will have five classrooms for blind and visually impaired children from birth to age five. Our goal is to level the academic playing when these visually impaired children enter the school system with their sighted peers.

In the 1950s, Miami Lighthouse donated nearly a half million dollars as seed money for Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and signed over land to the University of Miami School of Medicine. The collaboration with the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute continues today. Recently, Bascom Palmer and Second Sight in collaboration with Miami Lighthouse’s Certified Low Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist designed and implemented the rehabilitation protocol for Florida’s first Argus II artificial retinal implant recipient, which will be replicated with subsequent patients.

To explore the current vision rehabilitation programs offered by Miami Lighthouse, please go to the “Services and Programs” tab.



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State of Vision
Sales of the “State of Vision” license plate support services to blind and visually impaired people. Miami Lighthouse is the recipient of a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this license plate. The cost is $25.00 in addition to the regular registration fee.




STAR Summer Camp Children Testimonials

  • STAR is really cool. I like it because I get to be
    with all my friends and learn a lot during summer,
    from typing to art to music.
    - Marino, age 12

  • STAR is fun because we get to read a lot, go on lots of field trips, use the computers and learn programs like PowerPoint. I make a lot of friends here and get to learn things with them. It's a lot better than staying at home watching TV during the summer!
    - Madisleny, age 11

  • We learn a lot and have fun activities in STAR. The large print books I get have helped me a lot in school, and I like learning with a lot of friends that
    I've made here during my second year in STAR at Miami Lighthouse.
    - Taknighis, age 12






Miami Lighthouse was recognized at the 2015 Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Awards luncheon as an organization that has demonstrated excellence and innovation in community health.


Miami Lighthouse ranks among the elite 1% of U.S. nonprofits having earned ten consecutive 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator, the nation's premier independent nonprofit evaluator. Receiving such a distinction reflects our sound fiscal management, responsible use of donor dollars, and financial strength.


Miami Lighthouse has earned the Gold participation level through the GuideStar Exchange which is a testament to Miami Lighthouse's commitment to data transparency.


Early Intervention Blind Babies Program Named the Children's Trust 2016 Program of the Year. This most prestigious award recognizes this Early Intervention Program, in particular, for including parents as teachers.







Miami New Times - Best of Miami 2017




Miami Lighthouse received the prestigious 2015 Beacon Award in Education at the 13th Annual Beacon Council Awards.


Miami Lighthouse was the recipient of the 2013 Switchboard Miami All Star Most Valuable Non-Profit Award.


Miami Lighthouse is a two-time Charity Partner (2013 and 2014) of the Marlins Foundation and a 2017 Major League Baseball All-Star Game Legacy Partner. Our Florida Heiken Children's Vision Program has received over $300,000 in charitable donations through these partnerships.


Miami Lighthouse named "Best of Miami" Charity 2017 by the New Times.






Miami Lighthouse received United Homecare’s 2012 Thelma Gibson Community Service Award at the 18th Annual Claude Pepper Memorial Awards Ceremony.


Miami Lighthouse received a Silver medal at the 2016 Miami Today Gold Medal Awards Ceremony.


Miami Lighthouse received the prestigious South Florida Business Journal 2011 Excellence in Health Care Award in the Community Outreach category.


Miami Lighthouse honored by being named the recipient of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce 2010 Non-Profit Business Diamond Award.


Miami Lighthouse received the prestigious 2008 Concern Award from Health Foundation of South Florida.


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