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The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Jernigan Institute is again collaborating with the Smith-Kettlewell Video Description Research and Development Center to host a stakeholder focus group on advanced concepts in video description. The focus group will be held during the 2013 NFB National Convention in Orlando, Florida. This year there will be two sessions for slightly different audiences. There is only space for ten attendees in each session, and participants must register in advance for this important meeting.
Both sessions will be held Monday, July 1. Session I will be from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and Session II will be from 1:00-3:00 p.m. (the exact meeting room will be announced prior to the convention).
Those interested in participating in this focus group should send an e-mail to Beth Braun at the NFB Jernigan Institute with the following information:
- Your full name
- The best e-mail address to use in communicating with you prior to the convention
- A cell phone number that can be used to reach you at the convention
- Are you blind?
- Are you fluent in English?
- Are you a non-native English speaker?
- An indication of which of the following categories applies to you (include all that apply):
- K-12 student
- Undergraduate student
- Graduate student
- Teacher of blind students
- Rehabilitation professional
- Educator not working with blind students
- Parent of a blind child
- Consumer of video description
- Professional not working in a blindness- or education-related field
If you are unable to e-mail your interest in the focus group, you can reach Beth at (410) 659-9314, extension 2369.
An opportunity for sighted amateur describers to evaluate YouDescribe¬Smith-Kettlewell’s new Web-based video-description tool for YouTube. Participants will test the system by recording their own descriptions for selected videos and report on their experience.
An opportunity for blind video description consumers to evaluate YouDescribe¬Smith-Kettlewell’s new Web-based video-description tool for YouTube. Participants will test the system by navigating the Web site to listen to selected described YouTube videos and will report on their experience.
Participants in Session II will need to provide their own Windows7, Apple, or Chrome laptop, and must be familiar with their screen-reading software and Web browser. The laptops must have Wi-Fi connectivity (Wi-Fi provided). They will also need to provide their own headphones.
Please respond with your interest no later than June 10.
Note that participants will not be picked on a first-come-first-served basis but rather to ensure that the focus group has a good mix of perspectives.
On Tuesday May 14, at 4:00 p.m., E:60 will air a segment on Beep Baseball. The segment will feature local legends, The West Coast dogs. This will be the team’s fourth championship in a row–seventh in thirteen years.
A program featuring contemporary stories behind the front pages, some thought provoking articles and occasional poems, plays or short stories.
Today’s theme: Opposite ends of the spectrum.
Saturday, April 20 blossomed into a beautiful blue-sky Napa day, perfect for wine tasting, food, and most importantly, a good long bicycle ride with over 2,000 other cyclists, all part of the 2013 Cycle for Sight fundraising event for Enchanted Hills Camp. Rotary of Napa hosts the event each year, and proceeds are split between our camp and the Napa Veteran’s Pathway Home.
This year, Team LightHouse had the largest number of team participants of the event, including an astonishing 40 tandems. Those who stayed the night at Enchanted Hills Camp were treated to a carbolicious spaghetti dinner the night before and a hearty breakfast that morning.
After the ride cyclists and their friends and family enjoyed food, drink and music at the Cycle for Sight Wine and Music Festival. LightHouse maintained a table which served as a meeting place for the Team members who shared their camp stories and memories. Lucky raffle winners picked up special hydration backpacks donated by Osprey.
“My family and I rode 15 miles along the beautiful and scenic roads in Napa and had a blast! We were one tandem in a group of forty tandems–plus a handful of single bikes–that hit the rode in a united effort to make a difference in the lives of blind kids this summer in Enchanted Hills Camp. “
We thank the riders and supporters of Enchanted Hills for their enthusiastic participation and for making this year’s event the best Cycle for Sight so far. To see photos from the event go to our Cycle for Sight 2013 Facebook photo album.
How do blind and visually impaired kids learn the life skills their sighted peers pick up visually? Last month our three-day workshop during a beautiful, sunny weekend at Enchanted Hills Camp provided another enriching and educational experience for youth ages 16 to 25 years old who are interested in how to be successful in their vocational, academic, and personal lives.
“I’m so glad I came to Transition Summit again! It’s been so helpful in my career pursuits, especially in learning leadership skills.”
The young people were placed in teams and challenged with hypothetical problems that they worked together to solve. One such challenge was to imagine that they were out hiking alone, lost, with a storm coming in and 20 minutes of daylight left. They were tasked with building a shelter that would keep them warm and dry, with just the things they found around them. Though overwhelmed at first, the young people quickly learned how to break down the challenge into more simple, solvable steps – a skill that will serve them well in the workplace and in life.
As an extra added bonus, keynote speaker and graduate chemistry student and Chemistry Camp leader Hoby Wedler talked to the group about maintaining enthusiasm and a positive attitude, cultivating professionalism and how to solve problems creatively.
“Do they have Transition Summits for sighted people? They should! This is so helpful. I have sighted friends who could benefit from all of this information.”
If you are interested in attending next year’s Transition Summit program contact LightHouse Community Services Director John Liang at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-694-7334.
Congratulations LightHouse Employment Immersion Client Lily Esteban, Hired by Diversified Mortgage GroupMay 2, 2013
Lily Wang Esteban grew up in China and Hong Kong and moved to Hawaii at age 17. She finished high school and studied Business Administration and Gerontology at the University of Hawaii before marrying and starting a family. In her 20’s she began working for a bank, and for the next 35 years, which included a move to San Francisco in 1983, she dedicated herself to her work as a mortgage loan officer.
Then everything stopped. It began when she started having trouble reading street signs. “One evening in September 2007, while I was in the car with my husband, I asked him why they had put Christmas lights up so early; I said ‘Look they’re all over the place’. He didn’t know what I was talking about.” Lily realized that what she was seeing was the blurred lights of streetlamps, appearing like holiday lights. She went to see an ophthalmologist who diagnosed her with myopic degeneration and told her it was unlikely she would gain much vision back.
It became harder and harder for her to see, and Lily finally gave up the career she had built for four decades. She was the primary breadwinner in the family and as their finances became more precarious, she became more and more depressed. That’s when her sister encouraged her to come to LightHouse.
She went, and it changed her life.
At first Lily enrolled in the LightHouse’s Changing Vision class where she learned an array of tricks, tools and resources for the visually impaired. A LightHouse social worker connected her with the Department of Rehabilitation counselor John Grote, who introduced her to adaptive equipment such as a CCTV to enlarge printed material and a computer with ZoomText software. “The world began opening up again, and this meant that maybe I could get back to work and improve our financial situation. I enrolled in the LightHouse’s Employment Immersion Program. But I was sure I couldn’t do loans anymore – that I would have to do more simple office work such as answering phones.
“Kate Williams encouraged me not to settle, and to reach up to my dream. Kate is very inspiring – I thought I was too old to change but I look at her, she is also older and low vision. And there were other people in the class my age. I’m actually glad I lost my vision – it led me to a place where I have a brand new perspective on aging. Why be limited? You’re only as old as you feel. Kate showed me how to write a resume, how to put a cover letter together and how to present myself in an interview. But what she really did was teach me how to sell myself to employers while not selling myself short!”
After graduating from the Employment Immersion class, Lily learned that new government regulations required her to be licensed in order to work as a loan officer. Eager to return to the job scene, and with the help of her new adaptive equipment, she crammed several months’ worth of study into an accelerated online course. “I never studied so hard in my life – I finished in two weeks and then took both the state and federal exams in the same day. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do both in one day, but I was impatient. Fortunately I passed the exams and got my license.”
With license in hand, Lily was hired as a loan officer in November 2012 by Diversified Mortgage Group in Fremont, California. She went through a seven-week training and has just begun closing loans. She’s thrilled and says, “If you are interested in going back to work, I strongly encourage you to take the Employment Immersion class. You’ll learn so much about yourself and your capabilities. Kate will point out what you’re really good at, give encouragement and show you how to open doors. Then you just need to get in there and prove you can do it.”
Is it time for you to re-enter the job market? Follow Lily’s lead and join us for the next session of the 2013 Employment Immersion Program which begins Tuesday, May 28 at the LightHouse’s office at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. For more information, call Kate Williams at 415-694-7324 or email her at email@example.com.
Talking BART maps? Yes, talking BART maps. The technology to produce BART maps that audibly describe BART stations is just around the corner and the LightHouse is helping to make this happen.
The LightHouse, working with Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, has produced a prototype for the first-ever talking maps that will enable blind or visually impaired people to handily navigate BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) subway stations. Three of the stations are completed, with the other 41 stations on this BART’s 104-mile subway line soon to follow. Muni Metro underground stations are next on the agenda, and the principal designers – who themselves are blind – envision someday bringing similar innovative devices to many sites across the nation and globe.
The talking maps concept was applied to BART by LightHouse staff and Joshua Miele, a scientist at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco. Miele directs technology research and development at Smith-Kettlewell.
“I dreamed of doing this for years,” Miele says. “A blind person at an unfamiliar station doesn’t know to head left or right, how to find a ticket kiosk, where to go up onto the street to hop on a bus. You needed to budget time for getting lost, asking strangers for assistance, or both. Well, my solution was making maps talk. The key to that was the arrival of the Smartpen.”
Miele solved the BART map problem by adapting the capability of a Livescribe Smartpen. The new LightHouse produced flip books with tactile graphics have pages with raised symbols – easily detected with a fingertip – that indicate staircases and escalators, bathrooms and exits, and brief Braille captions. The paper also has a subtle, swirling matrix of printed dots. When a user sweeps a map page with a Smartpen (basically, a slim computer with a tiny camera that can read that pattern) a richly detailed audio commentary on each location, including all nearby landscape features and assets, will pour into the user’s ear.
Miele blended the technologies that resulted in the map project, but to actually create the maps, he relies on staff at the LightHouse. “They’ve been the lynchpin of this whole project,” Miele says. The LightHouse has a Braille production facility at its headquarters office, where the Access to Information Services team will produce and distribute the maps.
To make talking BART maps a reality, considerable information had to be gathered. Each station required a detailed study to decide what features to represent. LightHouse Board member Chris Downey, a blind architect, called in colleagues from major architectural firms, like HOK and Gensler, and other members of the AIA (American Institute of Architects) to help. Volunteer teams fanned out across the subway system. Downey says necessary data not only streamed into the LightHouse, but flowed back in the other direction. Participating architects grew much more cognizant of how blind and disabled people experience space – which can influence and improve their future designs.
“It’s the first time a project like this has been accomplished anywhere,” says Miele. “But it won’t be the last. This sort of tool can be used everywhere, airports, bus and train stations, malls, schools, libraries, national parks, even your governor’s office.”
It is estimated that the first talking BART maps will get into riders’ hands by Fall 2013. For more information, please contact Greg Kehret, Director of Access to Information Services, at 415-694-7349 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired announces the addition of Dr. Connie Conley-Jung, a licensed clinical psychologist and former special education teacher to our staff. Dr. Conley-Jung has over 20 years of experience serving children, adolescents and adults seeking support and assistance with a wide range of psychological, relationship, school, or employment-related issues. Her lifelong experience as a visually impaired person, in addition to her professional experience in educational and community nonprofit settings, enables Dr. Conley-Jung to share with all of us her extensive clinical expertise and knowledge of resources. Dr. Conley-Jung looks forward to helping LightHouse clients of all ages achieve their goals and sustain an improved quality of life and overall wellbeing.
Dr. Conley-Jung accepts private insurance, Medicare, Alameda County Medi-Cal, UnitedHealthCare Military and Veterans (formerly TriCare), Victims of Crime, private pay, and Department of Rehabilitation referrals.
For more information or to make an appointment, please contact Dr. Conley-Jung at 415-694-7307 or email@example.com.
The Counseling and Psychological Services program at the LightHouse can help to:
- support healthy adjustment to blindness and visual impairment across the lifespan
- encourage greater social participation within and outside the blindness/visually impaired community
- remove potential barriers to academic success, gainful employment and job retention
- promote a healthier, more active lifestyle
- expand and strengthen social, professional and familial support systems
- improve self-esteem and confidence.
Clinical Services may include:
- Periodic and ongoing workshops and support groups to address specific aspects of mental health and wellbeing
- Individual peer counseling and psychotherapy
- Life coaching for developmental life cycle transitions and adjustments
- Resource referrals to internal and external community services and organizations
- Assistance with navigating different and oftentimes multiple service systems (medical, financial, educational, occupational, human services, etc.)
Do you have a special skill you’d like to share, while enjoying time spent in the beautiful outdoors? Would you like to teach a sport or an art class or take a group of campers out hiking? Enchanted Hills Camp is looking for volunteers for this summer’s camp sessions.
Enchanted Hills Camp volunteers bring their already acquired skills to camp to help staff create an enriching and vital camp experience, while maintaining a fun, supportive, and safe environment.
Each summer we utilize over 50 volunteers to assist in these areas and more:
- Arts and Crafts: ceramics, painting, jewelry, and weaving
- Nature/Science: hiking, ecology, Native American history, gardening
- Sports and recreation: archery, goalball, soccer, beep baseball, bowling, boating, yoga, horseback riding and swimming
- Enrichment: acting, dance, music and journalism
- Staff assistance: cooking, office work, maintenance, driving, and reception work
If you’ve got a skill or two to share, are a team player and enjoy working and living in the community atmosphere of camp, this volunteer opportunity is for you. You’ll need to be able to work a 12-hour day and travel independently. You’ll be asked to demonstrate emotional maturity, sensitivity to blindness and the ability to accept people as they are. Most of all, you must share the desire of the LightHouse to promote the independence, equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or visually impaired.
For more information contact Camp Director Tony Fletcher at 415-694-7319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Delta Gamma Alumni Association is hosting a
Kentucky derby party which will benefit the San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind … and you’re invited!
Where: The Republic at 3213 Scott Street (at Lombard Street) in San Francisco
When: May 4th from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
What: Wear your best derby hat and be ready to bet on your favorite horses!
Best dressed male and female will win a gift certificate.
Check out the invite on Instagram here.