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Lighthouse Center expanding operations; changing lives of more clients

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DULUTH, MN-- For more than 100 years the Lighthouse for Vison Loss Center in Duluth has been helping those who are blind or have vision impairments.

But now, with a new name 'The Lighthouse Center for Vital Living', they are expanding operations, in order to change more lives.

"We have officially expanded our mission to serve people with vision loss, older adults, and people with disabilities across the area," said Executive Director Mary Junnila.

The expansion comes after advancements in assistive technology, Lighthouse Center officials felt it was time to advance what they're able to bring to clients.

"It just didn't make sense to say be traveling around the region to show people different technologies and not open that up to a broader population," said Junnila.

Those advances in technology range from low tech to high custom-made pieces.

"It could be a sticky note for somebody who has memory loss, it could be a thicker pen for somebody who needs a better grip," Sheri Cooke, Assistive Technology Professional said. "Maybe a communication device, they're also known as AAC [Augmentative and alternative communication] devices."

In addition to the expansion, the Lighthouse Center is now partnered with STAR of Minnesota, a government-funded program geared towards helping organizations like Lighthouse find more devices and funding for clients.

"They know of things [devices] before they even come out," said Cooke. "They are then able to purchase devices to give out for loans to people throughout the whole state."

Lighthouse officials said the expansion is more than just getting new devices, it's giving people the independence they otherwise might not have.

"Technology has changed the world, and that presents a huge opportunity for older adults. People who are blind or visually impaired," said Junnila. "People of all ages with disabilities to open doors that were not previously possible."

For more information on Lighthouse, click here.

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Emma Quinn

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