Our Story

Nearly a century of inspiration

We started out more than 80 years ago as a small workshop and training school for the blind with just 12 employees. During the toughest times, we faced hard challenges and tough choices. We persevered because we believe in our cause. Today, we are a company of more than four hundred individuals who are blind, low vision and typically sighted, all working together across the many branches of our organization. Learn more about the Envision story.

Original Wichita workshop

We open the Wichita Workshop and Training School for the Adult Blind.

Amid the darkest days of the Great Depression, a group of likeminded folks open a simple workshop. This unique training school teaches those who are blind the skills needed to make and sell their own products for a profit.

1930’s Envision worker

We don’t miss a beat.

When the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act passes in 1938, it brings government contracts to companies employing people who are blind, allowing them to make products within government specifications. We seize the opportunity on all fronts. During WWII, our Wichita Workshop and Training School goes to work supplying pillowcases and brooms to the federal government and the United States Army.

Man walking with cane

We seize more opportunities.

After WWII, demand for our pillowcases and brooms dwindles. The Lions Clubs of Kansas forms in the 1950s and becomes the sales force for the workshop’s brooms. The Caravan of Brooms lets Lions Clubs across the nation sell our brooms in their hometowns. Each club keeps a percentage of the profits for local projects. The Caravan of Brooms becomes a driving force in keeping our shop, renamed the Kansas Foundation for the Blind, afloat through lean post-war years.

Two Envision workers standing outside with goods

We bring in new products.

Our ability to embrace change and defy expectations with quality, new products allows us to grow. In addition to our brooms and pillowcases, we find our niche producing seat belts, cleaning cloths, doormats and janitorial products.

Photograph of new Envision headquarters in 1975

We adapt to change.

Even as our product lines grow to include more cleaning and janitorial supplies, we look for ways to further grow our income. We also move from our home of the past 40 years to 801 East Lincoln in Wichita.

Man working in factory

We regroup and refocus.

We have a new name, Wichita Industries and Services for the Blind, and a new business model. We recognize that we’re a “mission-driven business with a business-driven mission.” This renewal of our spirit and purpose brings in new products, new contracts, new locations and, most importantly, more employment opportunities. Our financial footing improves and so do our services. The new rehabilitation division offers services benefitting individuals who are blind or low vision. It’s a new and essential direction.

Woman folding military clothing

We expand.

Base Service Centers providing new jobs for those who are blind or low vision allow us to offer our products to military personnel on military bases across the country. To embrace this new direction, we change our name again in 1997. Wichita Industries and Services for the Blind, embracing its evolving and bright future, is now Envision.

Renovated Envision headquarters

We’re in constant motion.

The new millennium brings us to a new facility on Water Street. In 2003, we expand even further, opening our Envision Vision Rehabilitation Center. Sensing the need for more room, we purchase and renovate our Main Street site downtown. In 2008 we move our rehabilitation center, administration and foundation to the building, which still serves as our headquarters today.

Teacher helping young girl

We extend our services to the very young.

We recognize a great need to help the youngest among us prepare to enter schools and defy expectations at every turn. Expanding our mission in 2010, we’re able to open the Envision Child Development Center, a vision-integrated preschool.

Woman participating in Envision University event

We expand educational opportunities.

Expanding and improving professional education, research and clinical care begins with Envision University. A key component to fulfilling our mission, Envision University provides multidisciplinary continuing education for rehabilitation professionals in the field low vision, establishing best practices to ensure continued research and clinical care for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Man working with plastic products

We keep evolving.

Our comprehensive strategic plan is essential for our sustainability. This new strategy allows us to launch our Business Development Department. We’re expanding our commercial markets, plastic products and much more. We continue to aggressively seek new partners, donors, fund development opportunities and products. Diversity is key to our success.

Optometrist working with young boy

We continue to defy expectations.

Every day, we work toward improving the quality of life for those who are blind or visually impaired. In 2014, Envision launched the Envision Research Institute (ERI), and in 2015, unveiled plans for a new ERI facility. The newly-established ERI plays a key role in helping us fulfill our mission through national studies aimed at breakthroughs which will improve the lives of those who are visually impaired by finding practical solutions to increase their quality of life. 

Blind and visually impaired adults learning in a classroom setting at Envision.

Creating a Workforce for All

Created in conjunction with sister agency LC Industries, the William L. Hudson BVI Workforce Innovation Center addresses gaps in job creation for individuals with low vision or vision loss in the professional/high-tech sector by providing experiential job training and placement in skilled, professional roles. Efforts include advocating at state and federal levels for more businesses to make their facilities and jobs accessible to candidates with vision loss, testing and evaluating assistive technology and working with employers to establish a culture of inclusion and provision of upward mobility opportunities.

Woman sitting at desk

Our Impact Grows Exponentially

For the first time, the Envision Conference is held in two different U.S. Cities, further impacting patient care worldwide by reaching an even greater number of low vision rehabilitation professionals and researchers. Envision Dallas, then known as Envision Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, is announced as the new home for the American Foundation for the Blind Center on Vision Loss and Esther’s Place, a specially designed model apartment that helps individuals who are blind or low vision learn to live more independently. The William L. Hudson BVI Workforce Innovation Center launches the national Accessible Products Hotline.

Woman sitting at desk

we push forward in dallas

Envision Dallas is announced as the new name for Envision Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind to formalize its move into the Envision family.