Today, as never before, blind people are leading full, productive lives. The reason for this is that visually impaired persons are altering the course of services and programs from traditional custodial approaches to innovative and exciting ones which stress self-sufficiency and independence. The Florida Outreach Center for the Blind is recognized by the State of Florida Division of Blind Services as one of the participants in a handful of these new programs.
The Florida Outreach Center for the Blind (FOCB) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established in 2003 by a group of visually impaired persons who realized that thousands of blind residents had virtually no services. Due to the urgent need for quality training programs and to fill the gap in services, the Center began its classes in the banquet room of the Piccadilly Restaurant in Boynton Beach, Florida. Realizing that this was a temporary location that limited the Center’s potential, the founders worked diligently to develop community support and obtain the funds to lease a permanent facility. Our current site is a free-standing, community based training Center conveniently located on a major bus route.
Our programs include Braille, Adaptive Technology, Daily Living Skills, Cooking, Peer Support Groups, Recreational Therapy, and Outreach Programs for newly blinded seniors. In 2011, a Kids’ Club was created to provide activities for blind children and their families that enable them to share encouragement and resources. The Center has a store with visual aids for hands-on inspection and purchase, an Equipment Loan Program that enables clients to have adaptive technology which they otherwise could not afford, and a Reading Center. All of the Center’s programs are free and designed to assist blind persons in building the confidence they need to live independently, pursue an education, or choose a career path. All of the Center’s programs are overseen by a Certified Rehabilitation and Vision Teacher and offered in English, Spanish, French and Creole. For more than a decade, the Center has never refuse to provide services to any blind person who needed help.
The Florida Outreach Center for the Blind has met the high standards of integrity and performance set by the National Accreditation Council. The Center is unique in that it employs persons who are blind and who serve as powerful examples for students. The Center is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors of which 50 percent are required by our By-Laws to be blind or have an immediate family member who is blind. The Advisory Board consists of 15 area consumers and professionals. Collaborations with other agencies help keep students informed about existing resources. Some of our partners are the Florida Division of Blind Services, Office of Equal Opportunity, and the Chamber of Commerce.