About Us

A man crossing the street using a walking stick.In the early 1970s a survey conducted by the Florida Division of Blind Services found that more than 1,200 adults in Florida were placed in institutions and receiving only custodial care. Believing that an enlightened community could do better, Millard Conklin enlisted the support of the Division of Blind Services and Lions Clubs of Florida to establish the Florida Lions Conklin Center for the Blind in 1979. The Conklin Center became the first nonprofit, human service agency in the nation dedicated to training adults who are blind and have an additional disability to be able to work at competitive jobs and live independently.

Adults, age 18 and above, are referred to the Conklin Center. Most are Floridians, but students have come to us from the rest of the United States, South America and the Caribbean. Some were born blind or visually impaired and others lost their vision as the result of illness, injury or an accident. Some students are totally blind and some are legally blind which means that the best correction possible in whichever eye has better vision does not exceed 20/200. At this level of vision, students are not able to read unaided or to drive. Our students must learn specialized techniques to be able to do many of the everyday things that people with sight take for granted.

During training at our Daytona Beach campus, students learn functional daily living skills and receive vocational training in our on-site workshop. Just as importantly, they develop social skills necessary for community living. The Conklin Center takes great pride that more than 80% of students who complete our training program each year become gainfully employed, graduate to further academic or vocational training, or gain sufficient skills to be more self-reliant.

A young man using a special magnifying device to read a check.After completing training, many graduates find that they need some help to maintain the independent lifestyle they worked so hard to achieve. The Center’s Supported Employment and Supported Living programs offer ongoing, low-intensity assistance to its graduates that help them remain employed and independent. Providing these services at no cost for as long as needed is unique to the Conklin Center and prevents solvable problems from becoming the cause of a graduate losing their job or home.

In 2000 the Conklin Center expanded its services to include young children from birth to age five and their families. Our Early Intervention Program prepares children who are blind to enter public schools ready to learn and grow alongside non-disabled children, and to participate in all of the childhood experiences that help build confident and competent adults. To achieve this, we provide specialized training and support to families so that they can create an enriching home environment for their blind children.

The majority of pictures on this website are provided through the photography excellence of the Daytona Beach Shores Camera Club.

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