San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind and Microsoft Technology Create a Vision for the Future

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind
City & State:
San Antonio, 
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in the State of Texas. Serving people who are blind or visually impaired for over 75 years, the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind (SALB) creates opportunities for individual independence by providing rehabilitation programs and employment opportunities that measurably improve the lives of blind and visually impaired individuals.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

For 75 years, the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind (SALB) has been helping blind and visually impaired individuals achieve their fullest potential through our technology training, rehabilitation programs and employment opportunities in our manufacturing facility. Because we are such a multi-faceted organization and rely on technology for every aspect of our business, we are in a better position than most to appreciate the impact technology has, not only on our day to day operations, but on the lives of the blind and visually impaired individuals we serve every day.

We rely on Microsoft technology for creating a stable and secure environment for our operations. This is especially critical considering the wide variety of programs and services we provide and the large volume of work we do for the Unites States Military. Founded in 1933, the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind began as a small sewing plant on the south side of San Antonio and has since grown into an agency that today employs more than 450 employees in a 70,000 square foot manufacturing and rehabilitation facility. Today, the San Antonio Lighthouse supports the military efforts by manufacturing writing instruments, Army and Marine Helmet Straps, Aerospace Insulation Blankets, U.S. Postal Straps, Navy Fleece Parka Liners, Spill Kits and Absorbent Products, and Oil Analysis Kits for the Air Force. The SALB Rehabilitation Center provides vocational, independent living, and assistive technology training programs that increase the independence of individuals who are blind or visually impaired, as well as those with other disabilities. We also operate 13 blind-staffed Base Service Supplies Stores on 11 military installations that provide our soldiers and airmen with uniforms, office and cleaning supplies, along with other retail supplies for mission support.

Here at the San Antonio Lighthouse, we operate and manage a Microsoft-based network and have always relied on Microsoft for the vast majority of our technology needs. This has enabled us to enhance the quality of our service in several ways. Microsoft Terminal Server allows us to use Point-of-Sale Software in our Military Base Service Stores, enabling us to provide the best and most efficient service to our military clients. Microsoft also provides a stable platform on which to run our assistive technology (screen reading and magnification) software that is so critical for the rehabilitation and vocational training services we provide for blind and visually impaired individuals.

Through our web presence, we have been able to increase the number of clients we serve exponentially, which has been integrally facilitated by Microsoft technology. Microsoft IIS 6 web services allow us to have multiple web presences with intranet and corporate sites, as well as an ecommerce site. The ecommerce site allows us to sell our blind-made products to the general public, thus generating additional blind employment opportunities and business for the Lighthouse, as well as helping us to increase awareness of the blind-made products in our manufacturing plant. Our corporate website is an award-winning community resource which provides a wealth of information on the services we offer for the blind, as well as information on our upcoming events and activities.

Finally, we rely on Microsoft technology to optimize our organizational and operational efficiency. Given the scope of our operations and the fact that we have multiple Military Base Service Store locations, we utilize Microsoft Outlook Web and Mobile Access to provide remote access to our employees through PDA devices and web browsers. Also, due to the fact that we provide support to the US Military at multiple sites across three states, we must ensure our systems are always operational and secure. The need to establish a network with minimum down time is crucial. By utilizing a Windows Update Server, we are able to stay current with Windows patches, service packs, and critical updates. The Windows Update Server helps us protect our network from vulnerable attacks by reducing the number of internet threats and malicious code. Additionally, Active Directory allows for Group Policies to control the network environment by enhancing security. This enhanced security will become even more important in the coming year, as we embark on one of our most ambitious projects to date - the construction of a new ‘blind-staffed’ Base Service Supply Store on the Ft. Sam Houston Military Installation. This facility will create new jobs for blind-cashiers and stockers, support the US Army and the local economy and position the Lighthouse to reinvest profits in the rehabilitation programs for blind individuals.

Our focus at the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind has always been to improve as many lives as possible. Nothing allows us to do this more effectively or efficiently than the advances in technology which enable us not only to reach more people than ever before, but to handle the increased volume of traffic in all aspects of our organization. Thanks to Microsoft, the Lighthouse can not only provide jobs and services to the blind, but also provide mission critical support to our military.

Submission Category
Stable and Secure Technology
Supporting Work Files