Miami Lighthouse Children’s Center: brighter future for visually impaired

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Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired gave an audience of civic leaders and community philanthropists a glimpse into the future during the grand opening ceremony for its new Miami Lighthouse Learning Center for Children and dedication of the Mary M. and Sash A. Spencer Campus of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Speakers at the Miami Lighthouse Learning Center for Children grand opening ceremony included Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado; Ava Goldman, Miami-Dade County Public Schools administrative director, and James Haj, president and CEO of The Children’s Trust. Miami Lighthouse’s Early Intervention Blind Babies Program was named the 2016 Program of the Year by The Children’s Trust.

Representatives from construction contractors MCM and the architectural firm of Wolfberg Alvarez Partners also participated in the dedication ceremony, along with financial supporters of the project and Miami Lighthouse Board of Directors. The event featured musical performances by pre-kindergarten and schoolchildren participating in Miami Lighthouses’ nationally acclaimed Music Program.

In addition to celebrating the Aug. 16 opening of the new 72,000-square-foot Miami Lighthouse Learning Center for Children, the event featured an exhibition of cutting-edge devices, software and technologies designed to assist the visually challenged. Jorge Hernandez, Computer Technology Services instructor, and John Garcia, manager of Vision Solutions, demonstrated new and exciting technology available for the blind and visually impaired such as, braille-to-audio teaching equipment, the latest in digital print magnification devices, computer speech applications, and Apple computer products, including accessible iPads.

The Lighthouse Learning Center for Children will accommodate the expansion of Florida’s first-of-its-kind fully inclusive pre-kindergarten for visually impaired students and their sighted peers. Miami Lighthouse piloted this unique pre-kindergarten with 15 students in 2016-17 in partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Early Learning Coalition, to more easily transition blind and visually impaired students to public schools.

For academic year 2017-18, 40 visually impaired and sighted children ages 1 to 4 are enrolled with the capacity to expand to 100 children.

All classrooms will follow the inclusion model (50 percent students with and 50 percent without visual impairment).

Miami Lighthouse was established in 1931 and has been providing services to the blind from nearly the same location. With the completion of the Lighthouse Learning Center for Children, the facility has grown into a 115,000-square-foot landmark.

For more information about Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, visit www.miamilighthouse.org, or call 305-856-4176.


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