The Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind (FAASB), began in 1972 at the urging of Murdock Martin, Executive Director of Florida Council for the Blind (now known as the Division of Blind Services). At its inception, FAASB membership included only four private agencies: Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, Independent Living for the Adult Blind (Jacksonville), and Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind.
Mr. Martin believed that FAASB would provide an avenue for dialogue between his agency and the private agencies that existed at that time. He was correct in his assumption and together both the Florida Council for the Blind and the private agencies for the blind began a partnership that proved to be a benefit for persons who were blind or visually impaired across the State of Florida.
Through the efforts of this partnership, services have grown through the administration of 16 private agencies whose mission is solely to serve persons who are blind or visually impaired. The spectrum of services has also been expanded over the years. Initially, agencies operated as workshops to provide employment opportunities for persons with visual impairments who could not obtain employment in a segregated employment community of non-disabled workers. As employment options expanded in the community, so did services.
Agencies began to focus on rehabilitation services such as orientation and mobility and independent living skills training. Today, most agencies prepare persons with employment skills such as computer, word processing and spreadsheet skills.
FAASB has been the leader in the nation in setting standards and best practices for services to the blind. FAASB itself was incorporated as a private, not-for-profit 501(c)3 on May 16, 1988 with 13 private not-for-profit agencies serving the blind as it’s membership. FAASB set standards for membership to include that agencies must be accredited and undergo a yearly financial audit. FAASB has continued to put an emphasis on quality services provided by certified staff.
In April of 1995, FAASB stepped up its legislative advocacy efforts by contracting with consultants to provide members with legislative bill tracking and updates of issues relating to blindness. It was at this time, that FAASB members became more active participants in forging legislation that would enhance services to blind persons such as the Blind Babies Bill passed in 1999 to provide approximately one million dollars in additional services to children 0-6 who were blind or visually impaired. In November 2005, the association hired its first executive director.
To this day, FAASB, has a voice in legislative issues and its members are sought out by local legislators for input on issues pertaining to blindness.