Visually impaired services suffering amid Lighthouse budget cuts, layoffs

Services cut during Lighthouse restructuring
Services cut during Lighthouse restructuring(rob masson)
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 4:40 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Budget cuts at Louisiana Lighthouse has led to layoffs, leaving many clients who provide services for the visually impaired scrambling for replacements to help people cope with their disabilities.

The Orleans Parish School System says they have lost counselors provided by Lighthouse and are now looking to the private sector to help the visually impaired.

Two years ago, longtime local radio host Wayne Watkins lost his vision to macular degeneration and became dependent on services offered by agencies such as Louisiana Lighthouse.

One counselor was laid off who Watkins says taught him how to do everything from using a walking cane to operating appliances.

“She means so much to us and it’s just a great loss physically and mentally for everybody,” said Watkins.

Sources say workers have also had their hours cut severely at Lighthouse’s production facility at Lighthouse, which teaches valuable skills while providing income.

Lighthouse put out a statement saying they have “endured significant disruption in operations and revenues due to COVID-19′s effects on the global supply chain as well as market inflation.” The statement went on to say, “we have implemented a restructuring plan. The decision to reduce some service staff is not made lightly.”

While clients are hopeful that they get their counselors back, Lighthouse says it is committed to continuing services offered in New Orleans since 1915, but the organization gave no timetable as to when that might happen.

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