By Joseph Pimentel, Orange County Register

The Braille Institute is replacing its local headquarters with a $10 million, easier-to-navigate campus that will integrate newer technologies into the education of its students.

City officials recently approved the institute’s plans to tear down the collection of homes it has turned into offices on North Dale Avenue in southwest Anaheim for the construction of a single, 14,735-square-foot building dubbed the Anaheim Regional Center.

The Braille Institute, which has served Orange County’s visually impaired since 1971, plans to start demolition Aug. 14. A groundbreaking for the new regional center will take place in September.

Officials said the campus will open in 2019, in conjunction with the Braille Institute’s centennial anniversary. The Anaheim campus will feature a central open-air courtyard, student activity center and a learning resource center that integrates braille literacy and technology training.

“This new center will be the centerpiece of what we are doing to prepare ourselves for our next century of work, not just in Orange County, but the rest of Southern California,” Peter Mindnich, president of the Braille Institute, said.

The Anaheim office annually serves more than 7,500 children, adults and seniors from Orange County, south Los Angeles County and parts of Riverside County. The students and programs will temporarily move across the street to the Anaheim Christian Reformed Church.

The project is part of a larger, multi-year campaign to add additional Braille services in Orange County, Mindnich said. The Braille Institute, last year, opened a 2,000-square-foot neighborhood center in Laguna Hills, which has already served more than 500 people.

The Braille Institute also recently started offering in-home services.

“We want to get closer to the people,” Mindnich said.

The Braille Institute has served Orange County residents since 1934, when it began offering programs through its Los Angeles offices. The Braille Institute opened a small office in Garden Grove in 1967, before moving to its Anaheim headquarters in 1971.

The new campus will be easier to navigate because it will be a single structure and not a hodgepodge of buildings.

“We’ve had an aging facility. The infrastructure has been falling apart and we needed to modernize and honestly, be brought up to code,” Mindnich said. “Rather than a major rehab project, we decided to build a new building.”

The funding for the project is coming from private donors, he said.

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