Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind (formerly Hillsborough County Association for the Blind ), now doing business as (dba) Lighthouse for the Blind & Low Vision, has been providing services in the Tampa Bay area for over 75 years. The agency was incorporated May 3, 1940 and was located at 507 West Platt Street. In 1944, Lighthouse for the Blind & Low Vision became a member of the Community Chest (now United Way Suncoast). In 1955, the Lighthouse moved to its present location of 1106 W. Platt Street.
- In 1975, the Lighthouse workshop began its partnership with National Industries for the Blind, an organization that would soon help the workshop earn contracts to supply blind-made goods to the Federal government and military.
- In December 1976, the Lighthouse earned the first of its five-year accreditation, and has maintained and been awarded this accreditation every five years through the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped. In doing so, the Lighthouse earned the distinction of becoming the first accredited private non-profit agency serving the blind in Florida. Also in 1976, the Social Work Unit was developed and a Work Experience Program was implemented within the Evaluation Unit.
- In 1984, a Low Vision Program and an On-The-Job Training Program were developed in the Rehabilitation Department.
- In 1988, a new Supported Employment Program was initiated to provide intensive job training to Lighthouse clients seeking outside employment.
- In 1990, two new programs were added: 1. Personal Computer Training, and 2. Rehabilitation (Job) Engineering.
- In 1993 a new satellite Rehabilitation program was opened in Winter Haven.
- In 1995, the Winter Haven facility opened its Low Vision clinic, and the Polk County Division became a member agency of the United Way of Central Florida.
- In 1999, the Lighthouse implemented its Service Program by contracting with MacDill Air Force Base to provide telephone switchboard services.
- In 2000, the Lighthouse celebrated 60 years of service to the community.
- In 2003, the Lighthouse initiated a Summer Transition Program for high school youth ages 14-22 years old.
- In 2007, the Transition Program was successfully expanded from a summer-only program to one operating year round. Also in 2007, the Lighthouse was awarded funding to start an Early Intervention program in Tampa, beginning in 2008. This new program was modeled after our successful Winter Haven-based program.
- In 2008, the Lighthouse expanded its’ year-round Transition Program.
- In 2009, the Lighthouse served a record 1,104 persons agency-wide.
- In 2015, the Lighthouse changed it’s Direct Mail program to Lewis Direct.
- In 2015, the Lighthouse celebrated 75 years of service to the community.
- In 2015, the Lighthouse revamped two of four parking lots (in front of Yogani and beside the building on Delaware).
- In 2016, the Lighthouse implemented a Children’s Program, starting in Winter Haven, with Funding from the Division of Blind Services.
- In 2019, the agency underwent a re-branding campaign, updated all of it’s marketing materials, and began doing business as Lighthouse for the Blind & Low Vision.