Deng Kong is the Receptionist and Office Assistant for The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. She was chosen by her peers as the Indirect Labor Employee of the Year.

Deng grew up in Laos. Born with glaucoma, she became completely blind when she was 10 years old. “In Asia, people with disabilities were treated as being possessed by demons, so my life was quite lonely as a child,” Deng said. Fate stepped in; she had to flee the country.

After she arrived in the United States, Deng was determined to take advantage of the opportunities for a new life. She poured her heart and soul into learning. She learned to speak, read, and write in English and braille, and acquired cane skills and independent living skills. Deng went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington.

Deng has been a mainstay at the Lighthouse for 19 years. Working at the front desk, Deng is the first voice people hear when they visit. She demonstrates to visitors and employees that, despite any perceived disabilities, the Lighthouse is a place where every person is encouraged to succeed.

A woman at a desk

Image Description: A woman in a light purple sweater is sitting at a desk. In one hand, she is holding a desk phone to her ear, and with the other she is typing on a keyboard.

“Deng is full of cheer. She has been friendly and helpful to every guest and deals with difficult people and challenging situations with professionalism and grace,” said Brent Weichers, Director of Continuous Improvement at The Lighthouse. “She is the living version of the Lighthouse mission. She cares about her job and the people she interacts with. She has always gone above and beyond to make my job easier.”

“Being at the Lighthouse has provided me with meaningful employment, which leads to self-confidence, self-sufficiency and the ability to live independently. I practice the Lighthouse values of communication, accountability, confidentiality, respect, and training every day at work and in my personal life,” she said.