Horizons for the Blind pays off balance on offices, saves about $36,000 annually November 1, 2015

Horizons for the Blind provides increased accessibility to consumer products, education, recreation, and cultural arts for people who are blind or visually impaired. The nonprofit is also a leading employer of people with a range of visual impairments and has become a model for accessible, equitable work environments.

Located in Crystal Lake, IL, Horizons has partnered with many Chicago-based institutions to offer enhanced cultural experiences for the blind and visually impaired, including the Shedd Aquarium, the Brookfield Zoo, and the Chicago Field Museum. Its first project with the Chicago Botanic Gardens oversaw the creation of tactile exhibits, and the implementation of maps and braille signage for the Nature Center.

With a $995,000 loan from IFF, Horizons will pay off the balance owed for the facility it has used as offices for the last four years, securing ownership of the entire property and shoring up long-term financing. With an additional property tax exemption, the agency will save about $36,000 annually, enabling Horizons to increase its marketing, gain exposure, and eventually employ more workers who are blind or visually impaired.

From the original staff of two volunteers in 1977, Horizons has grown to 52 employees, 28 of whom are blind or visually impaired or have other disabilities. Over the years, the agency has become a leading provider of braille, large print, and audio transcription services to the business community. Horizons’ blind and low-vision staff members are an integral part of the agency’s workforce team, ensuring its products are accessible and understandable to consumers.