To strengthen their missions for the visually impaired, the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind will merge with Wichita, Kansas-based Envision, one of the country’s largest employers of individuals with vision loss. Operations will continue as normal in Dallas, and the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind name will be retained.
The merger will allow the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind to further increase its scope of services and employment – in addition to manufacturing – for the 150,000 individuals with vision loss it serves in 11 North Texas counties. Envision has launched several nationwide initiatives over the past few years to augment its manufacturing operations with opportunities for individuals with visual impairments to pursue professional, white-collar jobs that have the greatest demand for workers, particularly in the technology, healthcare, scientific and green fields.
“The Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind is a remarkable organization that has been empowering people who are blind or visually impaired to live independently since 1931,” said Envision president and CEO Michael Monteferrante. “We’ve been doing the same thing at Envision since 1933. This merger fits perfectly into both our organization’s strategic goals to expand reach, serve more people who are blind or visually impaired and extend geographic footprints.”
Currently, Envision employs nearly 400 people in 10 states, with 93% of its direct labor workforce being blind or visually impaired. Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, with its addition of BOLD Marketing, has more than 240 employees at six Dallas-area locations, with 75% of its direct labor workforce being blind or visually impaired. Envision and Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind are both associated with National Industries for the Blind, participate in their respective State Use Programs and manufacture/sell SKILCRAFT products to the federal government through the AbilityOne program, the largest source of employment opportunities for people who are blind or have a significant disability. The commonalities between the organizations are expected to help facilitate a seamless transition.
“This is a great step forward that fits within our combined mission,” said Envision board of directors chair Sam Williams. “The goals we share all lead to the central objective to provide employment to people with vision loss to offset the unacceptable 70% unemployment rate among that segment of the population.”