September 11, 2013 — Educational Briefing on the Anne Sullivan Macy Act

Lighthouse International along with co-sponsors: Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, American Foundation for the Blind, Prevent Blindness America, The Vision Council, Low Vision Division and VisionServe Alliance is hosting a panel discussion about the education system of children with vision loss on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 12 pm, Rayburn B-369, Washington DC.

Moderated by Lighthouse President and CEO, Mark G. Ackermann, panelist will include: Yokasta Urena, Teacher and Parent, The Ethel and Samuel J. LeFrak, Child Development Center, Lighthouse International, Bernadette M. Kappen, PhD, Executive Director, The New York Institute for Special Education and Mark Richert, Esq., Director, Public Policy, American Foundation for the Blind

July 10, 2013 — Accessible Pedestrian Signals Training Session at Lighthouse

Polara Engineering designers and manufacturers of Accessible Pedestrian Signals held a training at Lighthouse International for APS installers. Members of the Pedestrians for Accessible Streets Coalition including representatives from Lighthouse International, Visions, and Seeing Eye participated in the training and shared with the trainees the importance of APS for people who are blind or visually impaired.

In 2011 the PASS coalition successfully advocated for a law mandating the increased use of APS throughout NYC and since passage there's been a steady rise in the number of APS installed in NYC.

June 28, 2013 — Lighthouse Hosted a Mayoral Forum

Lighthouse hosted a Mayoral Forum sponsored and organized by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Human Services Council, NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and United Neighborhood Houses.

Read more

June 25, 2013 — Lighthouse International Continued its Opposition to Use of Lever Machines

Lighthouse International continued its opposition to legislation that would authorize the use of lever machines in the upcoming New York City Elections and sent a letter to Governor Cuomo urging him the veto the recently passed legislation.

Read the letter to Governor Cuomo from Lighthouse International's President and CEO.(PDF)

June 18, 2013 — Prevent Blindness America’s Eye Health Summit

Michael Fischer, OD, of the Lighthouse International low vision team and Chief, Optometry Service, Dept. Of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Northport was an invited speaker at Prevent Blindness America’s 2nd Annual Eye Health Summit in Washington DC. Dr. Fischer joined an impressive list of vision researchers and doctors, including Dr. Paul Sieving, from the National Eye Institute, and discussed the need to better integrate low vision services into primary eye care. Attendees included patient advocates, community-based organizations, national vision and eye health organizations, government agencies, and policymakers.

May 13, 2013 — Lighthouse and AFB Support the Ann Sullivan Macy Act

Representatives from Lighthouse International and the American Foundation for the Blind were on Capitol Hill and met with United States Senator John Boozman to discuss the Ann Sullivan Macy Act and efforts to create a low vision devices Medicare demonstration project. Representative also met with staff from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s office to discuss support for a low vision device demonstration project.

May 1, 2013 — Law Requiring Taxi’s Be Accessible to People with Vision Loss in Effect

Local Law 57 of 2012 requiring all taxicabs to be accessible to people with a visual impairment goes into effect on May 1, 2013. Taxi-riders are urged to share their experiences using the technology with Lester Marks at or at 212-821-9640. Lighthouse will be assembling data to ensure compliance with the law and will be sharing this data with city officials later this year

April 30, 2013 — Lighthouse Opposes Bill Authorizing the Use of Inaccessible Lever Voting Machines

Lighthouse strongly opposed a bill in the New York State Senate that would authorize the use of inaccessible lever voting machines in the upcoming New York City elections. In a memo of opposition to the bill’s co-sponsors Lighthouse stated, “We share a desire for elections that are administered efficiently and yield results that are trusted. We also share a desire for people who are blind or visually impaired to be able to fully participate in the electoral process, both independently and privately. A return to the mechanical system is the wrong approach.”

Read the full memo.

April 23, 2013 — New York State Vision Rehabilitation Association Lobby Day

Lighthouse participated in the New York State Vision Rehabilitation Association Lobby Day in Albany. Representatives from Lighthouse International joined vision agencies from across the state to advocate for the licensure of vision rehabilitation professionals. The day included a rally and meeting with state legislators and their staff from throughout New York State.

March 26, 2013 -- Transit For All: How NYC’s Public Transit Serves the Blind

In many ways, how we view public transportation reflects how we see our societies.  Do we value shared resources, or prefer private ownership? Will vital services be available to all, or just a few? How accessible is it to those who are dependent on public transport to go about their daily lives?  We went to New York City, where Reporter Britta Conroy-Randall took a trip with blind advocate Romeo Edmead to find out how easy to is for him gets around town.

This week, on Making Contact,

BLBRD: “There have been jobs that I couldn’t take because the bus simply wouldn’t be able to get me there in time to start,”

Steltzer: For many, public transportation isn’t a choice. It’s a necessity.

BLBRD: “It means liberation. It means unlimited access, it means equal opportunity. The most difficult aspect of being blind is lack of independence with traveling.”

Steltzer: When city budgets are cut, public transportation is often on the chopping block. And routes and lines serving those who need the service most, can be the first to go. But an emerging Transportation Justice movement is standing up for people’s right to ride.

CHANT TRT: “When I say Free, you say MUNI. Free! MUNI! FREE! MUNI!”

Steltzer: On this edition. From New York to Argentina, people organizing in the name of transportation for all.

Steltzer: I’m Andrew Stelzer, and this is Making Contact, a program connecting people, vital ideas, and important information.

CHANT: “Did we win this fight? YEAH! Was it a long fight? YEAH!! Was it a hard fight? YEAH…

Steltzer: It’s a school day, but hundreds of kids are out on the streets in San Francisco’s Mission District celebrating. This week marks the beginning of a free MUNI pass program—in which low and moderate income students can ride public transit for free—24 hours a day. The campaign for free MUNI took 2 years, and it wasn’t easy but .

Nick Persky: “The civic engagement of youth in the Free MUNI for youth campaign is something that we’ve barely ever seen before. “

Steltzer: 17 year old Nick Persky is a member of the San Francisco Youth Commission.

Persky: “…the number of youth coming into city hall, flooding city hall for various MTA meetings, various board of supervisor meetings, has been insane. We’ve never seen this many youth come into city hall before, and its really something special to see.”

Steltzer: Hundreds of high school students spent two years lobbying the Municipal Transportation Agency and Metropolitan Transportation Commission to lay out more than 6 million dollars for the pilot program. Balboa high senior Paolo Acosta was one of them.

Acosta: “Just coming back over and over and over and over and over…the more and more networking and marketing we did about this campaign, we actually tired out the MTA and got them to approve it.”

Steltzer: But San Francisco’s youth didn’t do it alone.

Avalos: “Because you had the pressure from the grassroots, we were able to make this happen.”

Steltzer: John Avalos is a member of the San Francisco Boar of Supervisors.

Avalos: “it was an amazing inside outside strategy. We knew, that if it wasn’t the people who were most impacted by the policies of MUNI, who didn’t raise their voices, we wouldn’t be able to make it happen on the inside.”

Steltzer: Youth whose families make less than the Bay Area Median Income are eligible for the free pass—that’s over forty thousand students. Not being able to afford the bus keeps some of those students from attending school, or participating in afterschool activities. Allowing kids to travel free also helps them explore different parts of their city…and makes them more likely to become adults who use public transit. Getting more people onto buses, trains and trolleys means fewer cars on San Francisco’s busy roads and cleaner air for everyone..

Campos: “We always believed that this effort was not just about satisfying the economic needs of these students, but it was about how we as a city look at transportation.

Steltzer: City Supervisor David Campos helped lead the Free MUNI for youth campaign.

Campos:“Other cities in other parts of the bay area are looking at this pilot as an example of what they can do for their families.”
“…We are investing in the future generation of riders and San Francisco is leading the way.”

CHANT: “Spread the word, spread the truth. Free MUNI for all our youth!”

Steltzer: In many ways, how we view public transportation reflects how we see our societies. Do we value shared resources, or prefer private ownership? Will vital services be available to all, or just a few?
Low income youth, like those San Francisco school kids, are one example, but there are others who are even more dependent on public transport to go about their daily lives.
We went to New York City, where Reporter Britta Conroy-Randall took a trip with blind advocate Romeo Edmead (Ah-Meed) to find out how easy to is for him gets around town,

Subway sounds/announcements

Britta Conroy-Randall: The New York City Subway system has four hundred and sixty eight stations – it’s the largest of any city in the world. There’s twenty one lines, running twenty four hours a day on three hundred and thirty miles of track. So there are times when even sighted people get confused. But Romeo Edmead (Ah-Mead), who’s been blind since he was two years old, knows his way around pretty well.

Edmead: You go up those stairs in the back, you go through a turnstile, when you go through a turnstile you make a right. You go up the first set of stairs you make a left, you go up another set, then you’re on the street.

Britta Conroy-Randall: Like most other New Yorkers, Romeo uses subways and buses to get to work, visit family and meet up with friends. He also walks – a lot. He says he relies heavily on his other senses to make his way around safely.

Edmead: Once the train pulls away I stop for a second and start listening for sounds. What I’m listening for is like turnstiles, metrocard machines, I’m listening for traffic. Also if it’s the winter time, I’m feeling too – not with my hands but I’m paying attention to what I feel. Why? Because wherever the cold air is coming from will also be an indication of where the exit of the subway is

Britta Conroy-Randall: In a city where around seven million people use mass transit every day, you can’t go far without hearing a complaint: regular service interruptions, inconsistent schedules, ongoing renovations… But these things don’t bother Romeo too much

Edmead: What I would say to that is welcome to New York you know? (Laughing)

Britta Conroy-Randall: To him, public transport means a lot more than just getting from point A to point B

Edmead: It means liberation. It means unlimited access, it means equal opportunity. The most difficult aspect of being blind is lack of independence with traveling. If you’re somebody that has to rely on rides, you’re not at liberty as much as somebody who can just jump on a train or a bus at any moment and go do what they want to do

Britta Conroy-Randall: Despite the obvious hurdles of life in America’s busiest city, the American Foundation for the Blind named New York as one of the country’s most livable – chosen partly for it’s public transit system that quote “allows blind residents to take full advantage of local cultural and social opportunities”. But despite the city’s high rating on issues of accessibility, there’re a number of advocacy groups working on improving the city for blind residents – especially when it comes to transportation. Lester Marks, the Director of Government Affairs at Lighthouse International, says one of the major issues is accessible announcements

Britta Conroy-Randall: This is a Manhattan five express train. The next stop is Beverly Road, stand clear of the closing doors please.

Britta Conroy-Randall: Lester says they’ve been introduced into many subway lines over the past few years, but are still missing from buses

Lester Marks: You want to know what stop you’re in, and you also maybe want to know the next stop you’re arriving into or how far along your stop is

Britta Conroy-Randall: Romeo agrees – it’s a problem he encounters every time he takes a bus

Edmead: Things can be tricky sometimes because unlike a train the bus doesn’t stop at the same stops every time you’re on it. If somebody’s not getting on or getting off at a particular stop then it will just pass by. So you can’t count.

Britta Conroy-Randall: Romeo says audible announcements can help with route changes or detours too

Edmead: About two weeks ago I was at a bus stop for an hour waiting for a bus and it turns out there was a sign there saying that the bus was detoured and you have to go a block down to catch the bus. It was like twenty degrees that night – I just froze, like unbelievable! And if I could see, that wouldn’t have happened.

Britta Conroy-Randall There’s a similar problem with hybrid and electric cars. Their almost silent engines pose a threat to blind people walking the city streets

Edmead: So obviously if you’re using your ears to cross streets and you’re listening to where cars are and things, if you can’t hear them, you know, they can run you over

Britta Conroy-Randall: Romeo has worked alongside advocacy groups like Lighthouse and the National Federation of the Blind to lobby Washington, and they got a bill passed establishing minimum sound requirements for new hybrid and electric vehicles. Now, they’re hoping their lobbying efforts can affect a similar change on city buses. The MTA’s annual performance review flags accessibility for the disabled as one of its key goals – but they don’t mention accessible announcements. Lester Marks says people need to maintain the pressure if they want to see needed improvements.

Edmead: If we as the blind community don’t continually remind them or let them know about how somebody who’s blind or somebody with a visual impairment travels, then of course they’re not going to think about it as much.

Britta Conroy-Randall: Fade up under Lester and continue

Britta Conroy-Randall: Romeo says public transport has been a lifeline for him and many others in the blind community

Edmead: You see you have to understand when you’re talking to someone like me, that just presents unlimited freedom. Some people are mentally free but they’re not physically free. And when you get the chance to have both simultanously that’s where you want to be.

Britta Conroy-Randall: And he plans to keep working to make sure New York’s transit system meets the needs of everyone in the city, regardless of their ability to see. For Making Contact, I’m Britta Conroy-Randall.

Steltzer: So we know New York City has the biggest subway system. But when you think of modern, green, public transportation, a city that likely comes to mind is Portland, Oregon. Portland has built a reputation worldwide, and for many people, it’s deserved. But as reporters Jennifer Kemp and Eric Klein found out, that world class public transit, doesn’t serve all members of the public equally.

January 8, 2013 -- Lighthouse International and Creative Mobile Technologies Present Taxi Technology for Blind and Visually Impaired Passengers to the United States Access Board

photo from presentation

Lighthouse International in partnership with Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT) gave a presentation on taxi technology for blind and visually impaired passengers to United States Access Board on Tuesday, January 8th in Washington D.C. The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among Federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Half of its members are representatives from most of the Federal departments. The other half is comprised of members of the public appointed by the President, a majority of whom must have a disability.

Both Mark Ackermann, President and CEO of Lighthouse International, and Jesse Davis, President of Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT), will address the board on the groundbreaking software enhancements designed to enable blind and visually impaired taxi riders to independently access the credit card payment system and other technology features in New York’s yellow medallion taxicabs as well as taxi fleets around the nation.

This partnership originated when James Vacca, Chairman of the New York City Council Transportation Committee, whose own father was blind, envisioned New York City taxicabs that could better serve New York City’s community of 400,000 visually impaired individuals. The public-private partnership between Chairman Vacca, CMT and Lighthouse International was so successful that it led to pioneering taxicab enhancements and landmark legislation.

CMT created adaptive software that will allow blind or visually impaired taxi passengers to hear the fare changing in regular intervals during the trip and facilitate all aspects of the credit card or cash payment functions upon reaching their destination, including selection of payment options, verification of fare and selection of tip percentages. CMT’s audible touch screen system, which can be activated by a special card or by simply asking the driver, will transform the screen into large, easy-to-navigate sections that are operated by touch and prompted by step-by-step spoken instructions.

This software is critical to the blind and visually impaired community’s ability to independently pay taxi fares. Prior to implementation of this new software, blind and visually impaired passengers who chose to use credit cards were forced to rely on cab drivers to swipe their card and enter the correct amount, including tip. Not only is this a violation of current New York City TLC rules, but also it exposes the visually impaired passenger to the potential for fraudulent transactions, including overpayment. In addition to its NYC rollout, CMT also plans to introduce software in 4,500 credit card and payment systems in taxis around the country.

"CMT's adaptive software will ensure that the millions of people who are blind and visually impaired in New York City, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, as well as nine other major US cities, will be a part of a community that benefits from independent payment and other technology in taxi fleets around the nation," said Jason Poliner, Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, Creative Mobile Technologies.

"We are proud to have worked closely with Lighthouse International to bring these benefits to visually impaired communities across the country and look forward to sharing CMT's experience and best practices with the US ACCESS Board."

“This is an excellent example of the private sector working with government leaders and advocates to voluntarily change a system that has excluded the independent participation of thousands of people who are blind or visually impaired for far too long,” said Mark G. Ackermann, President and CEO of Lighthouse International. “We are delighted to have played a role in this nationwide initiative and will continue working to ensure that every taxi in the nation is accessible to people with a visual impairment.”

December 12, 2012

bill signing photo

Lighthouse joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg as he signed Intro 599, a bill championed by Lighthouse and unanimously passed by the New York City Council, that requires an accessible payment system for people who are blind and visually impaired in all New York City Taxicabs. The new law makes New York City the first United States City to have fully accessible taxi fleet for people with a visual impairment.

Watch the bill signing ceremony.

October 10, 2012

world sight day logo

Vision 2020 USA in conjunction with Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Health Assistance Foundation, American Optometric Association, Assoc. for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Fight for Sight, Helen Keller International ,International Eye Foundation, Lighthouse International, Lions Clubs International, Optometry Giving Sight, Prevent Blindness America, and SEVA Foundation will be hosting a Congressional Briefing on World Sight Day 2012: From Vision Research to Vision Loss Prevention

Recognizing World Sight Day 2012 and featuring:

John Prakash, Ph.D., Associate Director for International Programs, (National Eye
Institute NEI)


John Crews, D.P.A., Vision Health Initiative, Division of Diabetes Translation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Thursday, October 11, 2012
12 Noon - 1:15 pm

House Rayburn 2168 (The Gold Room)

Please R.S.V.P. to Dina Beaumont @ 202-530-4672 or
Vision 2020 USA, a 501(c)3 foundation, is pleased to host this widely attended educational event

For more information visit the World Sight Day website

September 13 Congressional Briefing

photo from briefing

On September 13, 2012, Lighthouse hosted a Congressional Briefing to educate Members of Congress and their staffs about the growing number of people with vision loss. Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, OD, FAAO, Chief of Low Vision at Lighthouse International was the featured speaker and presented compelling data on the projected growth of the number of people with vision loss. His presentation included policy recommendations that could assist in meeting the needs of the growing number of people with vision loss, included increased Medicare reimbursement for low vision and vision rehabilitation services.

Joining Lighthouse International as co-sponsors of the event were the American Foundation for the Blind, American Optometric Association, Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, Prevent Blindness America, the VisionServe Alliance and the Vision Council. The briefing was the first of three vision related Congressional briefings on Capitol Hill this fall.

photo from briefing


Lighthouse Pushes for Accessible Taxis in New York City

Lighthouse continued to advocate for accessibility in New York City taxicabs by testifying at a New York City Council Transportation Committee on a bill that would mandate an accessible payment system in all New York City Taxicabs. It would significantly expand the use of taxicabs by people with a visual impairment and be the first of city in the country to have fully accessible fleet for people with a visual impairment.

This legislation served as the impetus for Creative Mobile Technologies to develop and install an accessible payment system in 1500 New York City taxicabs in the Spring of the 2012.

April 24, 2012

Prescription Drug Labeling Promotion Act of 2012 Introduced

Lighthouse International applauds the efforts of Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who introduced H.R 4087 the Prescription Drug Labeling Promotion Act of 2012 to ensure that people who are blind or visually impaired have full access to the information included on their prescription drug labels. This legislation addresses the problem that people with a visual impairment have had to deal with for many years by convening a working group of pharmacy representatives, patient and consumer advocates, and federal regulators to develop guidance for pharmacists to ensure that the blind or visually impaired have safe, independent, and comprehensive access to their prescription drug information.

Read more about the bill.

March 28, 2012

On Wednesday, March 28, the City Council, through the leadership of Lighthouse International and the PASS Coalition, passed two bills that will help people with a visual impairment. The first bill, Intro 183-A, brings into law the installation of accessible pedestrian signals at 25 intersections in all five boroughs of New York each year. The second bill, Intro 745, would require the Department of Transportation to post on it's website, in an accessible format, all the locations where pedestrian plazas, bike lanes, and certain traffic signaling that may be hazardous to people with a visual impairment. This will enable the visually impaired to identify potentially hazardous conditions prior to their travel, an option that was not available prior to the passage of this law.

Watch Mayor Bloomberg sign both bills into law.

March 9, 2012

Lighthouse International joined Early Intervention service provides and advocates in New York State calling for changes to the Governor’s proposal regarding Early Interventions services.

March 7, 2012

Mark G. Ackermann, President and CEO of Lighthouse International, was on Capitol Hill meeting with elected officials and key staff members to discuss the challenges of inadequate reimbursement for low vision and vision rehabilitation professional services. The goal of the meetings was to educate and inform officials and their staffs about the growing number of people with a visual impairment and the important role vision rehabilitation services. Read more about low vision and vision rehabilitation services.

January 25-26, 2012

Lighthouse International participated in an Accessible Voting Workshop tasked with understanding the barriers to voting for people with disabilities, identifying gaps where current technology fails to fill user needs, and working to integrate these changes into the current election environment. The 32 workshop participants included election officials, designers, and accessibility advocates, formed teams to imagine new solutions to make the voting process more accessible to every citizen.

December 14, 2011 -- Lighthouse International Supports Introduction 626

Lighthouse International joined Mayor Bloomberg at a bill signing ceremony for Introduction 626. The bill, sponsored by Council Member James Vacca, requires the New York City Department of Transportation to consult with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities when undergoing major transportation projects. This will ensure that the needs of people with a visual impairment are incorporated into major street redesigns and installations of pedestrian plazas and bike lanes.

bill signing

Picture from left to right:
Karen Gourgey, Chair, PASS Coalition, Lester Marks, Lighthouse International, New York City Council Member, James Vacca and New York City Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg

Photo credit: Spencer T. Tucker

October 11, 2011 - Lighthouse International Hosted NYC Comptroller’s Disability Forum

photograph of mr. liu

For the second straight year, Lighthouse International hosted New York City Comptroller John Liu’s Disability Awareness event.

The event was attended by over 200 people, and honored several advocates for their advocacy work on behalf people with a disability.

October 5, 2011: Lighthouse Teams with Vision 2020 for Congressional Briefing

Vision 2020/USA has teamed up with Lighthouse International and eight other sponsoring organizations for our third vision related congressional briefing in Washington D.C. this fall. The briefing, to be held on World Sight Day, will discuss groundbreaking, cost-effective health interventions that have prevented vision loss, such as vitamin A supplementation and cataract surgery. The briefing will take place on October 13 from 12-1:15 p.m. in House Rayburn B-340. Please RSVP to Dina Beaumont at

View the invite (PDF)

September 29, 2011: PASS Coalition Helps New York City Improve Travel Safety

The PASS (Pedestrians for Accessible and Safe Streets) Coalition, of which Lighthouse International is a member, joined the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, the Speaker of the New York City Council and several Council Members at the corner of 7th Avenue and 23rd Street to announce the city’s effort to improve the safety of all New York City streets, and for its plans to increase markedly the number of APS’s installed throughout the five boroughs.

Dr. Karen Gourgey, Chair of the PASS Coalition states, "Those of us who are blind or visually impaired value the pedestrian-friendly and age-friendly initiatives of DOT; we want to assure that our particular needs are taken into account as these changes are made. APS installations such as these at 7th and 23rd are a big step in that direction."

The intersection of 7th Avenue and West 23rd Street in Manhattan incorporates the needs of visually impaired pedestrians and should be looked at as a model for redesigns throughout the city. The major intersection renovation was initiated to reduce the hazards to crossing pedestrians at what was a very dangerous place for them. Original construction plans would have created challenges to the safety of blind, deaf/blind and vision impaired pedestrians, pedestrians who must depend on how things feel and sound rather than how they look. The Department of Transportation presented its plans for public comment. The PASS Coalition had its experts visit the intersection and identified potential design problems and also offered solutions such as the proper installation of detectable warning strips at curb ramps and crosswalk cut-throughs.

"The DOT's holistic approach to pedestrian accessibility at 23rd Street and 7th Avenue, including detectable warning surfaces at all corners and audible and vibrotactile signals for each crosswalk, represents the application of today's best practices. In the end, we are all better off when every citizen can be safe and secure on our sidewalks and streets", said Dr. Eugene Borquin, PASS member and orientation and mobility specialist.

PASS has also shared with the Department a list of other intersections citywide, in most immediate need of traffic signals which give WALK information audibly and tactually.

"Safety improvements for pedestrians with a visual impairment will also improve the safety of all New Yorkers. The installation of new APS’s signals is much needed and will improve safety at chosen intersections. I thank the DOT and Council Members James Vacca and Gale Brewer for hearing our concerns and implementing this plan," said Lester Marks, Director of Government Affairs, and Lighthouse International.

The PASS Coalition was pleased to have played a valuable role at the 7th Avenue and West 23rd Street site. It looks forward to continued collaboration with the Department of Transportation toward the shared goal of safe and independent access to all city streets for people who are blind, deaf/blind or have low vision.

To learn more about the PASS Coalition, visit them on Facebook.

September 28, 2011: Lighthouse International and Cosponsors Host Congressional Briefing

Lighthouse International hosted a successful congressional briefings regarding diabetes and vision loss on September 13, 2011 in Washington D.C. The briefing, which was led by Mark G. Ackermann, President and CEO of Lighthouse International, featured greetings from United States Senator, John Boozman, and United States Congressman, Gene Green. The keynote was given by Neil Bressler, M.D., Professor of Ophthalmology, Chief of Retina Division, The Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The presentation centered on the growing number of people with the diabetes and consequences that uncontrolled diabetes has on vision loss. Dr. Bressler also the discussed the progress made by Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (DHCR), which is supported by the National Eye Institute.

Cosponsoring the briefing were the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Diabetes Association, American Foundation for the Blind, American Optometric Association, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Prevent Blindness America, The Vision Council, and VisionServe Alliance. This briefing was the first of three briefings the vision community will host this fall.

View pictures from the congressional briefing below.

August 22, 2011: Lighthouse International Hosting Congressional Briefing on Diabetes and Vision Loss

Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among Americans ages 20-74. With the surge of diabetes in the U.S., this problem is only expected to get worse. On September 13, 2011, Lighthouse International will host a congressional briefing in Washington D.C. on the link between diabetes and vision loss.

Cosponsors of the briefing will be the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Foundation for the Blind, American Optometric Association, The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Prevent Blindness America, The Vision Council and the VisionServe Alliance. The featured speaker will be Dr. Neil Bressler, Professor of Ophthalmology, and Chief of Retina Division at The Wilmer Eye Institute Johns Hopkins Hospital.

This important briefing will serve to highlight and educate members of Congress about the diabetes epidemic and its link to vision loss, but it will also emphasize the important role of early detection and vision rehabilitation.

The briefing will be held at 12 p.m. on September 13 at the B-339 Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C. Lunch will be served at this widely attended event. To RSVP, please e-mail Dina Beaumont at

Read the invite to the congressional briefing (PDF).

Read about the upcoming vision community congressional briefings (DOC).

July 11, 2011: Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act Update

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will soon seek input on the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, which requires electric and hybrid vehicles to emit an alert or sound that allows blind and visually impaired pedestrians to detect their presence.

The bill, signed into law by President Obama earlier this year, seeks to resolve the problem created by electric and hybrid cars that do not produce the same level of sound that traditional cars produce. People with visual impairments are taught to listen for surges in traffic to determine when it is safe to cross a street and the increased prevalence of quiet cars poses significant safety risks. The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act is looking to establish an alert system that will notify pedestrians of the presence of hybrid and electric cars.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published the proposed sounds that pedestrians would hear. Listen to the proposed sounds and check back within the next few weeks for updates on how you can provide feedback on these sounds.

May 13, 2011: Lighthouse International Hosted Forum on Pedestrian Safety

Lighthouse International hosted Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and the Manhattan Disability Task Force for their Spring Forum on "Pedestrian Safety in the Changing NYC Streetscape." The forum focused on New York City’s efforts to improve safety for pedestrians with a visual impairment. Featured on the panel was the Manhattan Borough Transportation Commissioner, Margaret Forgione, who emphasized the city’s commitment to work with the visually impaired community and specifically the Pedestrians for Accessible and Safe Streets (PASS) Coalition, of which Lighthouse International is a member.

View some of the pictures from the forum below.

March 22, 2011: Help Improve 9-1-1 Services for People with Disabilities

The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on October 8, 2010, requires smart phones, the internet and television programming to include audible and visual notifications so they are accessible to anyone with a hearing or vision loss. Under the new act, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created an Emergency Access Advisory Committee (EAAC), which is in charge of improving access to 9-1-1 services in the event of an emergency. The EAAC is currently seeking input from anyone with a disability, including vision loss, on how they can improve the 9-1-1 system. Please take a few moments to complete this survey on 9-1-1- accessibility issues.

March 21, 2011: Lighthouse International Advocates Against New York State Cuts to Early Intervention Services

Mark G. Ackermann, President and CEO of Lighthouse International, sent a letter to Sheldon Silver, speaker of the New York State Assembly, urging him to oppose cuts to the early intervention services proposed in New York State’s 2011-2012 budget. Early Intervention programs provide vital services to children with disabilities and directly correlate with increased mobility and independence later in life. These services for infants and toddlers include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and vision services.

Help us send a strong message to Albany! Contact your state legislators and urge them to oppose cuts to early intervention services.

February 28, 2011 - Lighthouse International Co-Sponsoring Congressional Reception

Lighthouse International is joining the Congressional Vision Caucus, and host Prevent Blindness, in co-sponsoring a congressional reception on March 2, 2011. The reception will bring together a wide range of vision agencies including, The American Academy of Ophthalmology, The American Optometric Association, The Association of Maternal and Child Health Promotions, The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, National Industries for the Blind, The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, VisionServe Alliance, The Vision Council and Vision 2020 USA.

View the invitation to the Congressional Vision Caucus.

February 15, 2011 - Lighthouse International Advocates for Accessible Taxis

Lighthouse International sent letter to David Yassky, Chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) regarding taxi accessibility for people with a visual impairment. As the TLC considers proposals for an accessible taxi of the future, it is important to include an accessible payment system when passengers are using a debit or credit card. This is even more important considering Access-A-Ride has started a pilot program in which riders are provided a pre-paid debit card to pay their taxi fare. Read the entire letter to the TLC.

January 24, 2011 - Lighthouse International Petitions Department of Justice for Website Accessibility

Lighthouse International submitted comments to the United States Department of Justice regarding its consideration of a proposal to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to include website accessibility. It’s imperative that websites meet the proper accessibility standards so everyone with a visual impairment can use them. Read the entire letter to the Department of Justice.

Read about our previous advocacy efforts.



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