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History

The Sight Center of Northwest Ohio has a distinguished history of service to people throughout Northwest Ohio who are blind or visually impaired. Founded in 1923 as The Toledo Society for the Blind by members of the Lions Club, the Community Chest and the Chamber of Commerce, the organization has not strayed from its original commitment: that all individuals who are blind or visually impaired should have the opportunity to live life with dignity and self-respect.

Once a sheltered workshop for the blind, The Sight Center’s services have evolved to reflect society’s changing views about people with disabilities as well as advances in technology. Today, The Sight Center serves an 18-county region in Northwest Ohio as well as parts of Southeast Michigan and Central Ohio, providing a unique blend of low vision programs and services that can help people of all ages work, learn, play and live independently with permanent vision loss.

History Timeline

1923

  • The Toledo Society for the Blind (TSB) organized.
  • Two rooms rented at 135 Huron.
  • Happy Times and Progressive Clubs organized.

1924

  • Became an affiliate of the Community Chest (United Way).

1925

  • Moved to Valentine Building.

1927

  • Toledo Society for the Blind incorporated.

1928

  • Moved to 718 Michigan Avenue.
  • Began sheltered workshop activities designed to provide gainful employment to blind members of the community.

1930

  • Workshop built at 718 Michigan Avenue.
  • TSB named distributor of Talking Books for Northwest Ohio. One of first 100 machines placed in the United States.

1937

  • House at 833 Michigan furnished for five residents. Project lasted eight years.

1956

  • New building at 1819 Canton made possible by private donations from individuals, Lions and Zonta Clubs.

1959

  • Christmas Card Sale began and ran for 33 years.

1966

  • “Operation Lazy Eye” launched to screen children’s eyes.

1967

  • Rehabilitation services began.

1968

  • Activities of Daily Living Apartment established.

1979

  • Receive initial accreditation by National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC). Accreditation has been maintained ever since.
  • Agency renamed, “The Sight Center”; legal title remains Toledo Society for the Blind.

1982

  • Weekly radio program began at Scott High School.

1984

  • Introduced the John Goerlich Distinguished Service Award.

1985

  • Agency leases sheltered workshop to Zepf Community Mental Health Service – MERIT Industries.

1986

  • First Capital Funds Campaign raised money for the front lobby elevator.

1987

  • Building renovated to become fully accessible for the community.

1989

  • SCAN, The Sight Center Audio Network, inaugurated – ran 17 years.

1990

  • Introduced Iris Award for Volunteers.

1991

  • Established an endowment for children‘s eyeglasses with Jamie Farr Golf Classic support.

1992

  • Opened Low Vision Clinic.

1996

  • The Sight Center received its first funding through Ohio’s Independent Living grant program.

2000

  • The Sight Center formed a relationship with Prevent Blindness Ohio (PBO).
  • Agency received its first funding through the Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio.

2003

  • Agency renamed “The Sight Center of Northwest Ohio.”

2004

  • The Sight Center launched the Building a Vision for the Future Capital Campaign to raise $1.65 million for the property purchase and construction of a new building.

2007

  • Moved into new building in South Toledo at 1002 Garden Lake Parkway, Toledo, OH 43614

2016

  • Opened The Shop, a low vision products store, at The Sight Center.

2017

  • Longtime relationship with United Way of Greater Toledo ends due to dramatic changes in United Way funding priorities.

2019

  • Celebrated 40 consecutive years of national accreditation after successful AER certification process (formerly NAC).

2020

  • Expanded the Early Childhood Program to include home visits and specialized intervention services.