Creating Employment Opportunities for Blind and Deaf-Blind Adults

Organization Name
Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind Foundation
Mission Statement

to create and enhance opportunities for independence and self-sufficiency of people who are blind, Deaf-Blind, and blind with other disabilities

City & State
Question 1
The Before: What was the challenge, issue or problem your organization was facing? Or, what was the opportunity you were not able to take advantage of before you put a technology solution in place?

Answer: Employment, training, and support services needed for blind and visually impaired individuals in our community remain acute. Blind adults in the United States face a 70% unemployment rate. Fortunately, continual advances in computer technology and assistive technologies create an opportunity to address unemployment in the blind and Deaf-Blind communities. The Lighthouse believes that within the proper context of training, support, and assistive devices, technology offers the best chance to level the workplace playing field for blind adults, using technology as a tool for empowerment and independence. Without software that is accessible, blind employees are unable to take advantage of many employment opportunities and advance in their careers.

Question 2
What Microsoft software have you used/are you using in your organization to more effectively engage your beneficiaries, donors and/or volunteers and/or to make a difference in your community?

Answer: Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 (Includes any of the following: Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote, Outlook, and Word)
Other: Visio, Project, Microsoft Office 2003

Question 3
The After: How have these Microsoft products allowed you to engage your stakeholders more efficiently or effectively to make a difference in your community?

Answer: Microsoft products have helped the Lighthouse create an accessible workplace environment, increasing the quantity and quality of the employment opportunities we are able to provide to blind and Deaf-Blind individuals in our community. At the Lighthouse, blind and Deaf-Blind employees use Microsoft products in conjunction with screen reading and screen magnification software to be successful in their jobs. The accessible format of Microsoft software has played a critical role at the Lighthouse, allowing blind and Deaf-Blind employees to access the same information and as sighted individuals. Technology is crucial tool for blind and Deaf-Blind individuals, and Microsoft products have allowed increased communication, access, and continuity throughout the Lighthouse.

Question 4
What about these products (the features or the way you used them) made them particularly helpful in enabling your organization to expand and improve upon its community impact?

Answer: To create a successful environment, the Lighthouse adapts individual workstations to meet individual employee needs. Microsoft products play a critical role at each workstation, as the primary assistive technologies need to make computers accessible to blind individuals function with Windows and Office. Many blind employees rely on the screen reading software JAWS (Job Access with Speech) to access Outlook, Word, Excel, and other programs they use to be successful. For visually impaired employees that have usable vision, ZoomText is used in conjunction with Microsoft software to enlarge the screen. Sharepoint plays a pivotal role in ensuring effective communication with employees, creating a centralized location for necessary information in an accessible format.

Question 5
Please provide any examples, stories or data that illustrate the difference the use of Microsoft software has enabled you to make (i.e., # of new clients reached, new program added, increased dollars raised, increased volunteers, etc.

Answer: The Lighthouse has created over 100 accessible workstations using Microsoft software to meet the varying individual needs of blind and Deaf-Blind employees. Microsoft software has helped the Lighthouse create more accessible employment opportunities, and streamline accessible communication throughout the organization. “Word is an accessible program in which to take notes, compose written material and keep a running log of information. I use it every day with JAWS for gathering information in my work as a Contact Center Representative,” says Lighthouse employee Dana Marmion.

Supporting Work Web URL
Special directions needed to access your work

Upload org logo or other identifying graphic

The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.