The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.’s School Tour Program is one of our long-standing efforts focused on raising awareness of blindness and deaf-blindness within the community.  The School Tour Program educates children in the fifth grade, future leaders and employers in our community, in understanding and appreciating the capabilities of people who are blind, Deaf-Blind, and blind with other disabilities.  By encouraging visits through this program, we hope that children who participate will grow into community members who understand and promote independence and self-sufficiency for blind and visually impaired individuals.

For the past seven years, the Lighthouse has hosted field trips to Seattle Lighthouse for approximately 18 fifth grade classrooms each school year, reaching over 450 students annually.  A tour of Seattle Lighthouse gives each student an opportunity to see a wide spectrum of people who are blind in a successful working environment.  Each visit includes a walking tour through our Machine Shop where blind adults manufacture aerospace parts, a presentation on writing and reading in braille, a visit to our Computer Training Program to view different assistive technologies used by blind individuals, meeting someone who uses a guide dog, and meeting an employee who is Deaf-Blind who communicates by using American Sign Language.  Children have the opportunity to ask individuals who are blind all about their lives.  Each child will goes home with a card that spells out their name in braille.

Prior to their visit, the Lighthouse provides each class with a “Braille Is Beautiful” kit.  This complete educational package, created by the National Federation of the Blind, includes a video about a young boy who is blind learning braille, along with books about capable blind adults, slates and styluses for learning to write braille, games, puzzles, and exercises designed to teach sighted fourth through sixth graders the basics about braille and blindness.

Inspirational quotes from Diana and Ethan, who visited the Lighthouse on school tours, capture the excitement and impact of their experience:

 “I loved our field trip. Blind people can do all kinds of work. Thank you for showing and teaching us about their lives. Blind people get to do important things too. I learned so much.” – Diana

“I am very thankful that I came for a tour.  Everything was interesting.  My favorite thing was everything.  I find it amazing how blind people can do so many things, just in different ways.” – Ethan