School Tours Program
The objective for The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. School Tours Program has been to educate children in the fifth grade, the future leaders and employers of our community, in understanding and appreciating the capabilities of people who are blind, Deaf Blind, and blind with other disabilities. Our program goal is that these children will grow into adults and make up a society that will promote independence and self-sufficiency of this vibrant community.
Each year, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. hosts an average of 18 tours for over 475 fifth-grade students and teachers from the King County School District.
Each class that participates in the program is provided with a “Braille Is Beautiful” Curriculum Kit ordered from the National Federation of the Blind. These kits contain reading material, Slate & Stylus workbooks, activities, and videos about blindness and the use of Braille. Classrooms will receive this kit a month before the tour so that teachers and students learn and discuss what they will be experiencing when they visit our facility. Lighthouse program staff are available if teachers have questions or want to work with us in implementing the curriculum.
School tours give each student an opportunity to see a wide spectrum of people who are blind in a successful working environment. The tour includes a walking tour through our Boeing Machine shop where blind adults make airplane parts, a presentation on writing and reading in Braille, meeting someone who uses a Guide Dog, and meeting a Deaf Blind employee who uses American Sign Language. Children have the opportunity to ask blind individuals all about their lives. Children use smaller white canes and simulation goggles to temporarily experience what it might feel like to move around without the use of vision. Each child will go home with a card that spells out their name in Braille. Teachers and students fill out feedback surveys after each tour. These surveys are then summarized and outcomes are measured against goals in order to maintain a program that is informative and participatory. An inspirational quote from Diana Chan of Maple Elementary, who visited the Lighthouse on a school tour, captures the excitement and impact of her 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
To hear comments such as this one from Diana adds emphasis to why conducting these School Tours is important. The importance lies not only on an individual basis for each child but for the blind community as a whole.