Founded in 1931 as the Florida Association of Workers for the Blind, Miami Lighthouse is Florida's largest and oldest organization serving the needs of the blind and visually impaired.
Through education, training, research and vision enhancement, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired provides hope, confidence, and independence to people of all ages.
Miami Lighthouse annually transforms the lives of over 75,000 blind and visually impaired people, babies to seniors, and their families. The impact of our programs is statewide, national, and international.
With the merger of the Miami Dade Optometric Physicians Association's Dr. Bruce Heiken Memorial Fund in 2007, Miami Lighthouse expanded its mission to include our Florida Heiken Children's Vision Program which provides 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, such as helping mothers set up play days for their blind toddlers to GED and ESOL classes for adults offered in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Adult Education have been established. 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 Award 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 expanded our 'Living with Low Vision'? services.
Our nationally recognized music inclusion program, with state-of-the-art sound studio, prepares students for higher education and employment in the mainstream music industry. Changing focus from the original sheltered workshop model, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind has built a strong job-readiness training program to prepare our clients for mainstream competitive, integrated employment. With collaboration from the Able Trust's High School High Tech (HSHT) Program our high school students are provided the opportunity to explore jobs or postsecondary education leading to technology related careers.
To explore the current vision rehabilitation programs offered by Miami Lighthouse, please go to the "Services and Programs" tab.
As a University of Miami trustee and chairman of the Medical School Committee, and an active member of the Miami Rotary Club, Dr. Bascom Palmer became involved with Miami Lighthouse for the Blind. First as a fundraiser, then as president of the Miami Lighthouse board from 1947 to 1952, he started a Miami Lighthouse satellite in Overtown to serve its local community. Dr. Palmer also established a fund at Miami Lighthouse devoted to his dream to create an eye hospital in Miami.
As early as 1943, Dr. Palmer and members of Miami Lighthouse began discussing the feasibility of establishing an eye clinic, and five years later, in 1948, the Miami Herald reported "land has been acquired for construction of a building to house an eye clinic, open to all persons who are without means of having their eyes tested." The property, purchased by Miami Lighthouse for $15,000, was located on N.W. 17th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues, across the street from the entrance to Jackson Memorial Hospital and on the site where the Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital now stands. Until sufficient funds were raised to build an eye clinic, it was operated as a parking lot and employed a blind attendant.
This property was subsequently the subject of a dispute, was condemned, and the Lighthouse placed the proceeds from the condemnation award with other funds contributed to the eye clinic. Dr. Palmer died in 1954. Without his leadership the fund to build the eye clinic ceased to grow.
Sometime later, Dr. Edward W. D. Norton, the newly appointed Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Miami's School of Medicine, approached Miami Lighthouse Board Director Maurice Harrison (current Miami Lighthouse Board Director Peter Harrison's grandfather). Dr. Norton requested that Miami Lighthouse supply the funds to build an eye clinic, which would be run by the University of Miami School of Medicine and would be built on land owned by Dade County. This was agreeable to the Board of Directors of Miami Lighthouse. Ultimately, Miami Lighthouse provided the land and seed money, which was most of the funds the University of Miami School of Medicine needed to construct the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute's original building.
The dedication of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute took place on Sunday, January 21, 1962. In late 1968 or early 1969 Dr. Norton once again requested the assistance of Miami Lighthouse. The Bascom Palmer Eye Institute needed more space. Miami Lighthouse contributed a substantial amount of money for this purpose. The fundraising was successful, and the building was built. Interestingly this new building was located on the four lots purchased by the Lighthouse in 1948. (Compiled from information contained in a document prepared by Preston L. Prevatt, Esq., dated January 11, 1993, concerning Shutts and Bowen's ongoing involvement with Miami Lighthouse and Twenty-Five Years of Vision: The Story of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, 1986).
A strong collaboration between Miami Lighthouse and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute continues today as both institutions are partners in transforming lives through vision rehabilitation. Recently, our Low Vision Occupational Therapist, our Chief Program Officer, and the University of Massachusetts Professor and Director of Vision Studies co-authored a case study on vision rehabilitation for the first Florida resident to receive the Argus II "Bionic Eye," Bascom Palmer Eye Institute's first patient of this kind. The case study was published in the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness.
During their medical rotations, Bascom Palmer residents provide service at Miami Lighthouse where they learn about devices available to improve the quality of life of their low vision patients and the vision rehabilitation programs we offer for patients whose vision deficiencies cannot be corrected by medical intervention. Our Chief Program Officer Carol Brady-Simmons participates in weekly grand rounds at Bascom Palmer. She serves as a resource for the ophthalmologists who make referrals to Miami Lighthouse for low vision services and vision rehabilitation.
In fulfillment of our education and training mission, since 2007 Miami Lighthouse has offered continuing education workshops "Engaging the Low Vision Community through Education, Research, and Service" for Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists and Nurses in collaboration with Florida International University's Occupational Therapy Department. The goal of the workshop is to empower health care professionals with the knowledge they require to meet the needs of the growing number of patients who are impacted by vision loss.
Starting in 2011, through collaborations with FIU and Barry University, occupational therapy students interested in low vision complete their fieldwork experience at Miami Lighthouse under the supervision of our Licensed Occupational and Certified Low Vision Therapist. To date over 100 Occupational Therapy students and two Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants have completed their practicum experience at Miami Lighthouse.
Miami Lighthouse also has contracts with the School Board of Miami-Dade County. Children's programs contracts include pre-kindergarten, birth through age two, functional vision and learning media assessments, Braille transcribing, and a memorandum of agreement for our Florida Heiken Children's Vision Program to provide comprehensive eye examinations and prescription glasses to Miami-Dade County schoolchildren. Our Adult Basic Education Program is also offered in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Miami Lighthouse for the Blind is committed to providing a fully accessible website experience.
Click here for Website Accessibility Statement
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 eleven 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 Lighthouse received the prestigious 2015 Beacon Award in Education at the 13th Annual Beacon Council Awards.
Miami Lighthouse received a Silver medal at the 2016 Miami Today Gold Medal Awards Ceremony.
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 Homecareï¿½s 2012 Thelma Gibson Community Service Award at the 18th Annual Claude Pepper Memorial 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.