Message from the CEO

Browse a collection of messages from Chicago Lighthouse President and CEO Dr. Janet Szlyk on what is happening around The Lighthouse.

Pushing the Envelope

(from The Beam, Spring 2013 | Volume 13, Number 1)

Dear Friends,

When I review the recent progress we have made at The Chicago Lighthouse, one thought springs to mind: no advances are achieved without someone pushing the envelope.

As you may know, Louis Braille was the inventor of Braille, a system of reading and writing used by people who are blind or visually impaired. After two centuries, the Braille system remains an invaluable tool of learning and communication for people who are blind, and it has been adapted for countless languages. In the same spirit as Louis Braille’s innovation, we too are pushing the envelope to make a difference in the lives of people who are blind. Here are some recent examples.

Employees in our new Call Center for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) have received praise for their outstanding service handling calls from professionals throughout the state inquiring about their license renewals. Opened this past March, the center employs more than 20 individuals, 25% of whom are totally blind with the remaining staff being visually impaired.

Thanks to the efforts of our education team, The Lighthouse has received a grant from the Chicago Public Schools enabling us to open a new Preschool this fall that will accommodate 40 children from ages three to five years who are at risk, low income, blind or visually impaired, or sighted learning in the same classroom. Admission will be free. Up until now, there is no preschool like this currently in existence in the Midwest.

In addition, we are pushing the envelope for our seniors with a new training program that will assist them in mastering iPad technology. We are also seeing what’s possible for teens who are both sighted and visually impaired with our first Lighthouse Away Southwest Expedition to Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona for a rafting trip on the San Juan River.
From our cafeteria, where instructors from the Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School work with chefs who are visually impaired to new low vision research that utilizes telemedicine to teach veterans with macular disease how to use their remaining vision (in their homes), to a new gene therapy for color blindness being investigated, The Chicago Lighthouse is always striving to do better for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Of course, all of this sets the stage for the opening later this fall of a state-of-the-art Call Center for the Illinois Tollway that will be operated by more than 200 people with disabilities. All have been recruited and trained by The Lighthouse. Not only will this amazing effort nearly double our existing staff, but it will bring in new sources of revenue to help fund our 28 programs and services.

Stay tuned for further developments.

In closing, I wish to commend our talented staff and our wonderful donors for their fantastic support. Your outstanding efforts every day on behalf of the people we serve guarantees a bright future for The Chicago Lighthouse!

Janet P. Szlyk, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer

Low Vision Research Laboratory

Research & Publications by Dr. Szlyk

Interviews with Dr. Szlyk

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