photo of teens in the columbia program

The Columbia Summer Youth Transition Program provides college orientation to up to 20 legally blind teens ages 14 through 18 for four consecutive weeks in July. The program takes place at two locations in New York City (Lighthouse International’s Manhattan headquarters, and the Columbia University campus) and consists of a cluster of rehabilitation, academic and recreational services which are age appropriate and consistent with the individual’s level of skill. The Lighthouse portion of the program provides the following services either individually or in a group: orientation & mobility, vision rehabilitation therapy, computer training, social work counseling, career preparation, physical education, creative arts, creative writing, and drama.

During the Columbia portion of the program, youths reside in a residence hall and share a dorm room with one of their same sex peers. They are oriented to both their dormitory environment and campus facilities and are required to participate in rehabilitation services, which take place two nights a week.

Orientation and mobility and rehabilitation teaching are important components of the college dormitory experience and as indicated above, each student receives the level of mobility training which allows them to be safe in a new and unfamiliar environment. Rehabilitation teaching is provided to ensure that the instruction which occurred at the Lighthouse (personal grooming, clothing identification/selection, housekeeping and laundry skills) are followed through at Columbia University.

Recreational services are also provided each evening at either Columbia University or in the community and consumers selected from a menu of options to meet their recreational needs.


Testimonials from former Columbia Summer Youth Transition Program members:

"I thought my visual impairment was bad, but I see you can get over it and move on. There are people who have worse problems than me who get around better. I definitely learned to be grateful for what I have with this program." -- Ahkeem Coar

"I learned how to travel independently, which before I could not do. I don’t have to rely on people anymore. I love this program. It was awesome." -- Francesco Magisano

"I learned a lot, not only in the classes we had at the Lighthouse, but traveling around the city, learning different places, new foods, [and] new experiences. I really enjoyed it and I thought it was really beneficial for my independence in the future." -- Michael McCarthy

"I learned how to navigate the busy streets of the city … some handy tips in the kitchen, handy computers tricks, [and] things that would help me in life, like getting a job." -- Whitney Nimipattana



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