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LightHouse Blog

The "Wanderer above the sea of clouds" painting from the cover of the Holman biography

Announcing The 2017 Holman Prize Finalists

In January, the LightHouse for the Blind in San Francisco announced The Holman Prize for Blind Ambition, a set of annual awards of up to $25,000 each for legally blind individuals with big plans. In six months, we received over 200 video applications, chose 51 semifinalists, and selected a committee of accomplished blind people to choose our inaugural prizewinners. Our Holman videos were submitted from 27 countries and were viewed more than 75,000 times on YouTube. This week, we’re proud to announce our elite group of ten finalists, plus a “Peoples’ Choice” finalist who we honor for receiving the highest ...
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Summer Yoga Instructor Meagan Lynch does yoga in the LightHouse Fitness Studio.

Bend it like Bikram: Summer Yoga with Meagan Lynch

We know you're trying to get your steps in as part of the National Fitness Challenge, but don't underestimate the value of strength and balance training to help you reach your cardio goals. Yoga may help you increase your tone and improve balance and mobility to provide you with some extra oomph in your physical and everyday life. Come stretch with our summer instructor Meagan Lynch! No knowledge of yoga is necessary – Meagan will work with you no matter what level of experience you have. Class times are below and you must register prior to attending, or complete registration upon your first day of ...
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The Holman Prize for Blind Ambition over an image of a person with a cane silhouetted against a starry sky.

Holman Committee: Meet the Blind Judges Selecting Our Inaugural Prizewinners

We are pleased to announce our inaugural panel of Holman Prize judges, who will come together in June to choose three winners from all of our ambitious and adventurous candidates.  Encompassing a wide range of expertise, including astrophysics, accessible tech, national politics, education and so much more, our international committee members — virtually all of whom are blind — embody the spirit of both James Holman, our finalists and the LightHouse for the Blind’s overarching mission. We can't wait to welcome these individuals, some of whom are joining us from as far away as Denmark and India, to the table ...
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LightHouse employee Frank Welte tries out Theia Immersive

Watch Live: A Virtual Reality Event for Global Accessibility Awareness Day

May 18th is the 6th Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and today we're hosting architects, engineers, educators and designers for a very special "Virtual Reality Tour of Blindness." The UK-based startup Theia Immersive has developed a robust, nuanced set of virtual and augmented reality filters to simulate all types of visual impairment, from color blindness to glaucoma and more. Today, they present from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. in a mini-conference held at LightHouse's headquarters in San Francisco. You can watch live, here: ...
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Director of AT Erin Lauridsen smiles for a headshot wearing a light blue shirt.

Meet Our New Access Technology Director, Erin Lauridsen

Building off the great work our tech trainers have been doing for years, we’re excited this month to announce the creation of a dedicated Access Technology Department at LightHouse, under the direction of our new team member, Erin Lauridsen. “The launch of this department is a recognition of how central technology is to our lives as blind people,” says Lauridsen. “It really does affect every aspect of our lives—from cooking to voting to dating to moving around the streets. If technology comes into every part of that, we have to train blind people to really be savvy tech users and be ...
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An Aira user wear Google Glass while having a menu read to her by an Aira Agent.

Get Paid to Help the Blind from Home: Aira Seeks Part-time Agents in San Francisco

  Last week, LightHouse Staff spent the day with Aira, one of the leading startups to emerge in the remote sighted assistant space. Equipped with a wearable camera or mobile app, blind users can use Aira's platform to receive on-demand sight assistance from trained professionals – privately and discreetly. The "agent," who uses Aira's dashboard software to keep notes on your preferences, track your surroundings through GPS and zoom in on far-away visuals. The result is a highly proficient "expert" who can efficiently identify, explain and Google anything your heart desires, opening up the blind user to a more accessible, frictionless environment. Aira's agents are the backbone of ...
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A smiling Toby wears a multi-colored shirt.

Student Spotlight: Toby Clark

Toby Clark stops by the LightHouse one afternoon to grab coffee with a friend who he met at our 30% and Growing blind professionals meet-up. The friend has been taking cooking classes in the 10th floor Teaching Kitchen and ushers Toby into the pre-function area with a piping hot plate of pasta parmigiano (“It comes with a warning: I might have gone a little heavy on the pepper”). Toby works around the corner as an attorney at the federal courts, and he’s recently started to regularly attend 30% and Growing. “It’s a very open and supportive environment,” says Toby. “You ...
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Abby smiles for a headshot in front of the 9th floor windows.

Volunteer Spotlight: Abby Cochran

When Abby Cochran first found the LightHouse three years ago, she came asking for help – but she wasn’t blind. Abby, who is fully sighted, had just moved to Berkeley for her Masters degree and was working at a startup in the city called TransitScreen. The company was using bluetooth beacons to send transit data to users phones – particularly useful for blind users at inaccessible signs. She needed user testers though, and someone told her LightHouse was the obvious choice. “I met a lot of really friendly people who expressed interest in my work and welcomed me,” she says. “They ...
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AMC Theaters Agrees to Improve Services for Blind Movie-Goers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: San Francisco, CA – April 28, 2017 – AMC Theaters (AMC) has reached an agreement with several blind individuals, the California Council of the Blind (CCB), and the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco (LightHouse) to ensure blind customers have reliable access to audio description services at AMC movie theaters nationwide. Audio description is a verbal description of the visual events on screen, which plays between pauses in dialogue. Many movies come with audio description tracks, and customers who are blind or visually impaired can listen to audio description through special headsets that ...
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A man holds a smartphone in front of his eyes. The back of the smartphone has an image of eyes on it.

A Week with Be My Eyes: The First Truly Social Network

On May 11 from 5:00 t0 7:00 p.m., LightHouse will host Be My Eyes and its blind or low vision users for an evening of creative use, feedback and even a bit of friendly competition. The Be My Eyes team will take blind users through the past, present and future of the technology, and share some incredible stories about the iPhone app that connects blind people to a network of sighted volunteers via live video chat. The event is free and intended for blind and low vision users – RSVP on Facebook. We love our independence. Even if our vegetables ...
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