Due to damage caused by Hurricane Ian, the Lighthouse office is under construction.
We have temporarily moved to:
1506 Bayshore Gardens Pkwy Bradenton, FL 34207

+1 (941) 359-14047318 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34243
Hope and Empowerment for the Visually Impaired

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September 2021 eNews

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Learning to Thrive in Florida

Moving out-of-state is never easy, especially during a global pandemic, but moving to a new town, unsure of what services will be available to the blind could be down-right scary. After spending time with Michelle Hyliard, one quickly learns that not too much unsettles this determined and cheerful woman.

After relocating last summer from Michigan to Punta Gorda, Michelle experienced many differences between the Midwest and Southeast. For starters, the seasons are just a little different. “My favorite thing about living in Florida is the weather,” she says. “It’s something many take for granted. The summer is rainier than I expected but I love winter in Florida.”

Another difference Michelle discovered in her new town was the assistance provided to those with visual impairment. Blind from birth, Michelle shared that she was the only blind student at school. In elementary school, she learned to read Braille while her classmates were learning to read standard text. She was mainstreamed throughout her education often learning side-by-side with sighted students. Michelle learned some practical skills while attending a couple of summer classes at the Michigan School for the Blind. “I received some practical home economics skills in those classes,” she said, admitting she did not have the resources she has since discovered.

After moving to Florida, Michelle contacted the Division of Blind Services and learned about Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center. “A lot of the skills I have are because I learned them on my own.” She added, “I never learned the mobility techniques I’m now learning, and I was kind of illiterate when it came to technology.” Michelle also shared that much of what she was taught before or techniques she developed have been improved upon or, in some cases, corrected to benefit her needs.

“They’re all great,” Michelle comments on her Lighthouse instructors. “Two that I really enjoy the most are Maddy (Maddy Spencer, Rehabilitation Manager, Independent Living Program) and Randy (Randy Reed, Assistive Technology Specialist).” Both instructors have been working over the past months either virtually or in-person to assist and better train Michelle in Orientation and Mobility as well as developing a skillset centered around Assistive Technology. “I’ve learned to get around pretty good in my immediate neighborhood,” she says. “And Randy has been really patient with me. I feel like I gel with him the most because he’s also blind and teaches in a way I can relate to.”

Michelle went on to compliment her Lighthouse instructors’ patience. Taking the time to work with her so that she feels more confident and especially knowing she can work at her own pace and reviewing things means the world to her. She acknowledges she is getting better each day, learning to independently cross streets, getting exercise and navigating around the neighborhood. “Lighthouse is a wonderful place,” Michelle exclaims. She suggests that anyone who may be blind or beginning to loss their sight should reach out and make use of the resources. “It may be scary at times,” she states, “but you have to remember there are still plenty of things that we as blind people can do.” Adding, “with training, we can do almost everything those with sight can.”

Click here to read or watch other stories of hope and empowerment

Click play on the video below to watch and hear Michelle speak on her experience working with Lighthouse instructors after moving from Michigan to Florida. To read more client stories, visit https://lighthouseeducationcenter.org/programs/seeing-beyond-reflection/.

Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center works with children, teens, adults and seniors affected by vision loss to gain independence and self-sufficiency. Our programs and services are provided at NO COST to every person we provide services to. These services are provided free because of individuals like you. We hope you will continue to donate to the Lighthouse by clicking the donate button.

Planned Giving Presentation

The Lighthouse would like to thank all that attended last month’s Planned Giving presentation, presented by Richard Gans and Betsy Pennewill. The online presentation provided numerous details on how you can support your favorite charity through a will, trust, or IRA.

For information regarding Planned Giving contact (941) 359-1404 ext. 2 or visithttps://lighthouseeducationcenter.org/donate/legacy-and-planned-giving/

Lighthouse at Sarasota Summer Showcase

Lighthouse Development Associate, Nicole Mobley attended the 2021 Sarasota Summer Showcase presented by the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. This sold out event featured 50 different member businesses, showcasing their products and services. The Lighthouse would like to thank all that helped in making this event possible and supporting local businesses during a tough year.

Invite the Lighthouse to your next meeting at your civic or community organization, school, nonprofit, house of worship, senior living facility or home health & rehabilitation agency in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto and Highlands counties.To schedule a Lighthouse presentation, please email Nicole Mobley or fill out a Speaker Request Form.

White Cane Safety Awareness Events

To coincide with the observance of White Cane Safety Day, Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center is hosting White Cane Awareness Events in Highlands, Manatee and Sarasota Counties during the month of October.

Established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, White Cane Safety Day commemorates the state and federal laws requiring motorists to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians using a white cane or guide dogs. This day and the events hosted around the country, serve to educate all about the traffic laws and importance of the white cane and its users. Additionally, White Cane Safety Day celebrates the achievements, freedom, and independence of blind and visually impaired people.

Please join us in celebrating this important day by attending one of our four in-person events this October. See below for more information about these events, including locations and times.

Tuesday, October 12, 8:30 am, Board of County Commissioners Manatee County will present the proclamation in the Honorable Patricia M. Glass Chambers, first floor of the County Administration Building at 1112 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton.

Friday, October 15, 9:00 am, City Commissioner Ahearn-Koch will present the proclamation at Paul N. Thorpe Jr. Park, 135 South Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota.

Saturday, October 16, 9:00 am, Mayor of Bradenton will present the proclamation at 1101 6th Avenue West, Bradenton. Presentation to be followed by a walk to the farmers market where Lighthouse will have a table.

Saturday, October 16, 9:00 am, Mayor of Sebring will present the proclamation at Sebring Circle in Highlands County. Additional details TBA.

For more information contact Nicole Mobley at (941) 359-1404 ext. 702 or nicole.mobley@LighthouseEducationCenter.org

September is National Guide Dog Month

September is National Guide Dog Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness and showing appreciation for the extraordinary work guide dogs do every day for the people in their care. National Guide Dog Month honors these working dogs for making millions of lives better and safer.

Monday, September 6 is Labor Day

Our Offices will be closed on September 6th in observance of the holiday.

Shop Peepers Online

Take advantage of your opportunity to purchase your Solar Shield sunglasses at a fantastic discount. A great way to protect your eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays, Solar Shield sunglasses are fashionable and affordable alternatives to expensive prescription sunglasses.


Peepers Online Store provides an array of products ranging from the newest equipment in assistive technology to high-quality office and writing aids, kitchen aids, lighting and hand-held or high-tech magnifiers* for individuals with low vision. Whatever your needs, Peepers has great selections available at reasonable prices. Go online to https://lighthouseeducationcenter.org/about-peepers/shop/ to purchase locally. Items will be shipped to your door.

*APPOINTMENTS are available for personalized one-to-one
consultation for magnification devices.

monthly giving donation provides to clients

Ready to be a Part of Something Big? Join the Sustainers Club!

Our Sustainers Club is a monthly giving program with 100% of every dollar going directly toward changing the lives Support children, teens, adults and seniors affected by vision loss! With a donation of as little as $10 a month, you can provide blind and visually impaired individuals with FREE programs and services focused on adjusting to their loss of vision, mobility and white cane training, computer, tablet and mobile phone training, independence and advocacy, job services readiness and so much more. As a member of the Sustainers Club, your monthly donation will help Lighthouse build our community.

Join us at https://lighthouseeducationcenter.org/donate/monthly-giving/ or contact the Development Team at

941-359-1404 ext. 2.

A State of Vision License Plate Supports Lighthouse


Support the blind and visually impaired community regain independence by purchasing “A State of Vision” license plate when you renew your auto tag. Funds from the sale of “A State of Vision” license plates are distributed to Florida Agencies Serving the Blind, Inc., which funds direct-support services to blind and visually impaired people. Specialty tag gift certificates are also available.

This license plate is a reminder to people on the road of our mission of hope and empowerment for the vision impaired. The Florida-inspired colors will also look great on your car! Information is on the website: https://myfloridaspecialtyplate.com/a-state-of-vision.html. Purchase your license plate today!

AmazonSmile You shop Amazon Gives

When You Smile, We all Smile!

While shopping on Amazon, remember to to purchase your goods through Smile.Amazon.com and select Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center as your designated charity. Shopping through AmazonSmile provides a portion of your purchases to be donated to the Lighthouse.

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www.LighthouseEducationCenter.org | info@LighthouseEducationCenter.org