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Archive for November, 2010
Did you know that the LightHouse is not only a place where great ideas come together, but also where great athletes come together, as well?
Many of our blind and visually impaired staff, friends and supporters are or have been competitive athletes. Donor Relations Coordinator, Lisamaria Martinez, was a Judo competitor on the national stage. Our new Blind Leaders Enrichment Specialist, Brandon Young, is a Goalball Paralympian. And our former Director of Public Policy and Information, Jessie Lorenz, was also a member of the U.S. Paralympic Goalball team. Transition Employment Coordinator Arlena Winn played Division I basketball. And several of our LightHouse Board members are avid cyclists, competing in races like Cycle for Sight and the BORP Revolution.
Speaking of BORP and LightHouse athletes, this weekend, the LightHouse will compete in BORP’s Annual Invitational Goalball Tournament. Our four-member team is looking forward to a day of healthy competition and fun. We hope that you’ll come out and support Team LightHouse at the James Kenney Recreation Center, 1720 8th St, Berkeley, CA 94710. Contact Jonathan Newman at 510-849-4663 x304 or email@example.com for more information.
San Francisco continues to be a legal crucible for blindness civil rights and on Monday, December 6, 2010, the next chapter in our long struggle will take place in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. If you want to witness how civil rights are won one step at a time, please consider attending this hearing and lending your support.
The following is an announcement from Stephanie Enyart’s legal team: “The blind community is encouraged to rally behind Ms. Stephanie Enyart as her case is argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Ms. Enyart is a blind law school graduate seeking admission to the California Bar. She has requested to use JAWS on the Bar Exam. The testing entity denied her request citing security concerns. It is important for the court, the press and other interested parties to understand that the blind community cares about this issue. Blind students should be able to take standardized tests using their assistive technology. It is no longer acceptable that all blind test-takers should be required to use only human readers when their preferred method of accessing print may be through another method such as computer screen review programs. Members of the blind community are encouraged to attend the public hearing on December 6 to show their support for Ms. Enyart’s position.”
Attendees will need a government-issued photo ID to enter the courtroom.
When: Monday, December 6, 2010, 1:00 p.m.
Where: John R. Browning U.S. Courthouse, United States Court of Appeals – 9th Circuit, Courtroom 3, 3rd Floor
Address: 95 Seventh Street, San Francisco, California 94103
Please share this with your contacts to ensure a strong turnout in support of Ms. Enyart and blindness civil rights.
When: Friday, December 3, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Where: LightHouse, San Francisco
The next LightHouse Technology Seminar, How to Read in the Dark, will be held on December 3 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., PST.
- Listen via: http://lighthouse-sf.org/listen.m3u
- conference call 641-715-3300 (Guest code 168319#)
- or join us in person.
We’ll be featuring information about the iPad, digital book readers, how to download digital books from the National Library Service, electronic Braille books and more.
RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do not receive this listing in your inbox every Thursday, join the distribution list by emailing email@example.com.
This listing is compiled by the Information Resource Center at the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It is compiled weekly as a service to the blind and visually impaired community of Northern California. If you have a meeting or event information that would be appropriate for inclusion in this list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. This list will be updated every Thursday. Information for each Thursday’s listing must be submitted one week prior to publication.
-by LightHouse guest blogger and volunteer Brian McCallen
While taking a recent trip down Movie Lane, I listened to Dreamworks’ Megamind, the latest, hottest audio described (and captioned) film at the Regal Cinemas in Dublin, California. Regal is one of several movie theatre chains offering Descriptive Video Service for the blind and visually impaired as well as captions for the hearing impaired at specific show times.
The theater was packed for this Sunday early afternoon showing, but I only saw one other person using the special headphones. She had her guide dog with her, sitting contently in an adjacent seat. The small wireless receiver had an on/off/volume dial and a switch with four channels. It was relatively easy to operate. Since I actually can see the large screen relatively well, I also saw the yellow captions at the bottom of the screen with the other movie viewers.
The film describer gave accurate accounts of the movie’s characters and actions. One good description was when Hal threw Megamind into the air. During the scene, the describer said: “Megamind flew up into the sky.” Also, the describer used just the right amount of dialogue to let me know what I might not gather from the characters’ lines. Furthermore, the describer said the words and phrases with appropriate emotions. For instance, the describer used an increasing pitch on the word “flew” until Megamind soared to his highest point above ground. Overall, the descriptions helped the listener understand not only this scene, but also the rest of the film and how Megamind turned from villain to hero for the citizens of Metro City.
I was curious about the opinion of others that struggle more than I do with motion picture technology, so I interviewed two members of the Vision Loss Support Group at the San Francisco LightHouse and asked about their experiences using Descriptive Video Service. John Denton and Roger Grocott provided a first hand view. John is visually impaired and Roger brings John to the support group meetings.
John and Roger used to enjoy episodes of CBS’ CSI together. John said he didn’t watch much TV because he couldn’t really make out what was going on. However, John was able to really enjoy CSI with descriptive video because he could visualize and understand and follow how the CSI team solved the crime.
John and Roger were very displeased that the descriptions were recently removed from the Secondary Audio Program (SAP), a unique feature of analog television. According to The Audio Description Project, an organization boosting description activity and disseminating information on the work throughout the U.S., audio description was removed from channels with SAP (e.g., CBS 5) after local commercial television stations made the transition from analog to digital transmission in 2009.
But John and Roger are excited to hear about the new Video Accessibility Act of 2010 that President Obama signed into law back in October. The new law calls for stations to provide primetime network programming with audio descriptions. So John and Roger will get to hear how crimes are solved on CSI once again.
Now back to the movies. In the Bay Area, it looks like AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group are two of several chains that currently offer films with descriptive audio. You can learn more about the movies in Descriptive Video Service and show times for the service by going to the websites of the two theatre chains. After paying for my ticket at Regal Cinemas in Dublin, I stopped at guest services to pickup my receiver and headphones. They required that I leave an ID, but there was no extra charge.
To learn about AMC Theatres’ DVS offerings in your area, go to www.amctheatres.com, click on “Movies & Events,” and type in your zip code under “Movie Times & Tickets.” The next page shows the theatre names, movies, and times, along with headings that give you the described films (e.g., “Descriptive Audio”). As for Regal Cinemas, go to www.REGmovies.com, click on “Now Showing,” and then “Open Captioned & Descriptive Audio Showtimes.” Finally, click on the abbreviation of your state and scroll down to your city’s theatre for DVS showtimes.
Please note that it’s always a good idea to call the theatre, check if their movies are described, and where to pick up the headphones. Captionfish serves as a directory of audio described and captioned films and theaters. Just type in your zip code, city, state, or even your address, and get a listing for all theaters that offer audio described movies near you. The LightHouse also sends out an Entertainment and Recreation Listing every Friday that includes locations of audio described movies. if you would like to have this emailed to you, contact email@example.com.
Next time you are looking for something fun to do, consider the movies, and enhance your experience, as I did, with audio description and some buttered popcorn.
Brian McCallen is a resident of Livermore, California. Brian is visually impaired with core vision in his right eye and distortion in the left. He is currently volunteering for Access to Information Services at the LightHouse. In his spare time, Brian surfs the web, listens to the radio, or watches TV. He loves Japanese animation (anime) and the late local news. Brian also likes to travel. His favorite places are New York, L.A, and Las Vegas.
Places like the National Library Service for the Blind, Bookshare, Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic and even Audible are great sources for audio books. However, selection can be limited to bestsellers or classics and, in the case of Audible, books can be quite costly.
Librivox has been offering free downloads of classics in the public domain (Mark Twain, Grimm’s Tales, etc). Now, the people who run Librivox have started iambik. Iambik offers books from small, independent presses, which means these are novels, short stories and essay collections that are sometimes avant-garde, experimental or just wacky and fresh.
For example, there is Icelander, by Dustin Long. This book is published by McSweeney’s—a local San Francisco press who has published such indie lit stars as Dave Eggers and Nick Hornby.
Description of Icelander:
The daughter of a local legend of the investigative arts, Our Heroine searches for her dog while avoiding her biological impulse to solve the mystery of her best friend’s recent murder.
So establishes the baseline of Icelander, which pulsates even more deeply with Norse legend, an alternate reality and a cast of supporting characters including a “rogue library-scientist,” a pair of philosophical investigators, and a many-faced villain. Built on mazes of time, language, and narrator, this literary fireworks display shows you what might happen if Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple had been penned by Nabokov then run through Hitchcock’s lens.
There is also The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto by Bernard DeVoto, published by Tin House Books. This book is described as
One part celebration, one part history, two parts manifesto, Bernard DeVoto’s The Hour is a comic and unequivocal treatise on how and why we drink—properly. The Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning author turns his shrewd wit on the spirits and attitudes that cause his stomach to turn and his eyes to roll (Warning: this book is NOT for rum drinkers). DeVoto instructs his readers on how to drink like gentlemen and sheds new light on the simple joys of the cocktail hour. With an introduction by Daniel Handler.
One of the coolest things about iambik is that their books range in price from $7 to just $5, and you can listen to an excerpt of the book before you purchase it. They only come in one format, mp3—but this is sans digital rights management, so you will have no trouble using the book on multiple devices, like an iPod or a Victor and/or saving a copy to your hard drive.
For now, iambik is brand new and only has a tiny library. But hey are open to suggestions for new books, so you can send them an email with your thoughts. As a visually impaired reader, writer and teacher of innovative, off-the-beaten path kind of literature, I am super excited about iambik.
–Amber DiPietra, LightHouse Resource blogger
Three major credit reporting companies in the United States have been making free credit reports accessible for almost two years. As the holiday season approaches it is a great time to review your report — in Braille, Large Print or audio format, or on the web in an accessible on-line format. Every United States citizen is entitled to one free report every twelve months from each of the three companies: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. The three reports can be requested at the same time, or at different times over a twelve month period. This post has details about how to request free accessible credit reports.
Read more at http://lflegal.com/
I recently joined the Sight Exchange group, which I discovered on American Foundation for the Blind’s message board.
The Sight Exchange group is open to all who want to donate, share or “recycle” items that serve the needs of the visually impaired. In particular, it is a source of used talking books, books-on-tape, even large print books and Braille books. Simply sign up and peruse the emails. Most of the secondhand reading materials are free.
–LightHouse resource blogger, Amber DiPietra
The Lighthouse for the Blind in Seattle seeks a Computer Training Program supervisor.
The primary purpose of this position is to support and supervise the Computer Training Program (CTP) in Seattle and Spokane, and successfully manage the computer skills training program for adult learners with a wide variety of visual conditions and computer experience at the Seattle and satellite locations. Curriculum development is required.
For details, go to: http://www.seattlelighthouse.org/job_postings/
Want a new way to save money while supporting the LightHouse and the clients we serve? We’ve partnered with Bloomspot, an online magazine offering daily specials for quality restaurants, hotels, spas and more.
After joining the LightHouse Circle on Bloomspot, a percentage of your purchases will be donated to the LightHouse. As an added bonus, BloomSpot will contribute $5 to the Lighthouse for each new subscriber who joins before Wednesday, November 17!
To join our circle, click on http://bit.ly/Bloomspot.