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Maker Faire: LightHouse & Oracle Present an Accessible Weekend-long Retreat for Blind Makers

“Blind people are makers. We can do things like soldering and building robots and woodworking,” says Dr. Joshua Miele, Associate Director of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute and organizer of the local Blind Arduino Meetup. “We might use slightly different techniques, but the outcome is the same. The LightHouse is all about teaching these alternative techniques so that people can engage in the activities they love, whether they’re sighted or not.”


At LightHouse, we know a lot of accomplished blind makers, which is why we offer blind soldering workshops, science and craft courses both in San Francisco and Napa. This spring, we’re hosting the very first Maker Faire, Made Accessible: May 18 – 22.

The new LightHouse Maker Faire Made Accessible will be a packed weekend of hands-on experience for blind young adults interested in the maker movement. The weekend will include an overnight stay at LightHouse with a series of events and a daylong trip to the Maker Faire in San Mateo. Expect hands-on learning, guided tours of Bay Area’s Maker Faire facilitated by Oracle volunteers, and demonstrations by blind makers eager to show other blind makers the tricks of their trade. We’ll be offering full scholarships to cover fees and travel expenses for a few lucky participants — so sign up early!

Maker Faire Logo

Maker Faire is a celebration of the Maker Movement, a showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. The Bay Area’s Maker Faire is the largest Maker Faire in the nation, right in the heart of Silicon Valley in Northern California. Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is a gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students and commercial exhibitors. “Makers” come to Maker Faire to show and share what they have made and what they have learned.

The weekend will use LightHouse headquarters as a home base to expand upon and explore all that Maker Faire has to offer. Our core group will consist of blind makers age 14-30, but we encourage those outside the age range to apply.

Starting on Thursday, May 18 we’ll welcome 20 blind participants from across the country and the region to the LightHouse Headquarters in San Francisco. Students will stay at the new LightHouse student residences, which houses up to 29 students.

On Friday, May 19, students will participate in tutorials, workshops and presentations with blind mentors who are makers themselves. They will offer hands-on demonstrations, exhibit their own work, and provide tailored guidance and consultation.

A woman touches a light sculpture at the Bay Area Maker Faire.On Saturday, May 20 students will travel as a group to the Maker Faire for guided tours with Oracle volunteers. Volunteers will accompany students one-on-one to describe the projects showcased at the various booths, and stop off at a few booths of blind makers.

And finally, on Sunday May, 21, former LightHouse Board Member Jerry Kuns will lead participants on a guided walking tour of San Francisco.

To sign up for Maker Faire 2017, receive an application, and determine your eligibility for full scholarship, including travel, please contact youth@lighthouse-sf.org or by phone at 415-694-7372.

This Is What Blind Ambition Looks Like: Announcing the 2017 Holman Prize Semifinalists

In January we announced the inaugural Holman Prize for Blind Ambition, an annual set of awards of up to $25,000 that finance and support blind people worldwide in pursuing their most ambitious projects. All applicants were met with a challenge in the first round: create a 90-second video to sum up a project of their choice and promote it through social media to garner widespread support. 

Between January and March, we received more than 200 video pitches from 28 countries on six continents. Projects ranged in focus across travel, activism, scholarship, craft, sport and much more. Our candidates’ pitches were viewed more than 65,000 times on YouTube: that’s thousands of people watching videos that chip away at stereotypes of blindness and offer a multifaceted view into the wide ranging and one-of-a-kind ambitions of blind people worldwide.

Seeing the range, scope and heart of our applicants’ videos was a joy, and their ideas blew us away. Deciding on a list of semifinalists proved to be difficult for our team, but we narrowed it down to 51 projects of all kinds from around the world.

Here is the list of semifinalists for the 2017 Holman Prize. In June, their proposals will be reviewed by LightHouse’s prestigious Holman Committee — comprised of highly accomplished blind men and women from around the world.

Click on each name to watch their original pitch video (or peruse our YouTube playlist), share, and spread the word: This is what blind ambition looks like.


Iman (California) wants to make a “reality TV”-style documentary about the lives of blind people.

Saghatel (Armenia) wants to develop his conflict resolution program in the Middle East.

Dan B. (Colorado) wants to complete an endurance run along the Great Wall of China.

James (Tennessee) wants to provide white canes to blind people in developing countries.

Joshua B. (Louisiana) wants to bring Braille training to Kyrgyzstan.

John (Texas) wants to establish an art gallery for visually impaired artists.

Georgie (United Kindom) wants to paint the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.

Melanie (Australia) wants to learn to dogsled, ice-climb and ski across Alaska.

Jack & Dan (New Jersey) want to ride across America nonstop with four blind cyclists.

Peggy (New Mexico) wants to illuminate the lives of blind people in American history.

Arne (Denmark) wants to ski to the North Pole.

Christina (California) wants to make a musical theater pilgrimage around the world.

Angela Denise (California) wants to build community with her ukulele from Hawaii to Australia.

Brett (Manitoba, Canada) wants to expand his public good clothing brand, The Blind Kid.

Muttasim (Sudan) wants to return to his birthplace in Sudan to become a catalyst for change.

Ioana (Montreal, Canada) wants to transcribe, record and perform classical guitar globally.

Natalie (California) wants to produce a new R&B album called “Blindsided.”

Riikka (Finland) wants to launch a one-year training program for aspiring singers.

Nicole (California) wants to travel around America and gather stories.

Jennifer (California) wants to develop a tactile-audio graphic novel called “Beulah.”

Caroline (Malawi) wants to provide better accessibility for blind students in her country.

Yves (Switzerland) wants to improve access to zoology education – specifically, penguins.

Marty (New York) wants to produce a documentary about discrimination against people with disabilities in the military.

Mirjana (Sweden) wants to trek through the mountains with a film crew.

Abigail (New York) wants to produce a podcast about disability culture.

Antonio (Philippines) wants to train blind people to become radio operators.

Felipe (Brazil) wants to further his political career, eventually becoming Brazil’s first blind president.

Alex L. (Minnesota) wants to teach ballroom, latin and swing dance to blind people around the U.S.

Rachel (Colorado) wants to document her world travels in a video series called “The Unseen Traveler.”

Dan M. (Michigan) wants to skateboard around the world and connect with blindness organizations along the way.

Linn (Norway) wants to record her debut album with friends in the Nigerian Afrobeat scene.

Penny (England) wants to expand her video blog, “Baking Blind,” to include travel, promotion and guests.

Graham (California) wants to go on a solo singer-songwriter tour, performing across the U.S. and UK.

Laura (California) wants to publish a tactile children’s book called “The Adventures of Penny the Guide Dog.”

Nino & Marie (Michigan) want to ride tandem bikes from France to Romania.

Dan P. (Georgia) wants to build a car to go 225 miles per hour — becoming “the world’s fastest blind man.”

Boonsiri (Thailand) wants to establish the Mae Sot Blind Centre for Children in Thailand.

Den (California) wants to follow in James Holman’s footsteps and circumnavigate the globe.

Serena (California) wants to study the art of making and roasting coffee and open a blind-run coffee shop.

Jamie (Colorado) wants to lead blind students in designing and creating balloon payloads to launch into space.

Alex S. (United Kingdom) wants to assemble a blind crew for a transatlantic sailing trip.

Jana S. (Indiana) wants to produce audio portraits of the U.S. National Parks.

Kaiti (Ohio) wants to start her own music therapy practice.

Ojok (Uganda) wants to teach blind people to be keep bees and sell their honey as a source of income.

Chandni (London) wants to work with exercise instructors to make fitness classes accessible to the blind.

Gary (Canada) wants to finance a Eurotrip for the Canadian Blind Hockey team to drum up support for the sport.

Penn (Colorado) wants to establish a four-day adventure camp for blind youths.

Deon (California) wants to travel and photograph guide dogs and their human masters for a coffee table book.

Ahmet (California) wants to kayak across the Bosphorus Strait between Turkey and Asia.

Poonam (India) wants to solo travel the world on public transportation and see who she meets along the way.

Christopher V. (South Africa) wants to take an eight-month expedition through the Mediterranean.


Find the Holman Prize on Facebook + Instagram + Twitter

 

The National Fitness Challenge is Off to a Racing Start

The San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired is a proud partner with the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) and the Anthem Foundation in rolling out the 2017 National Fitness Challenge (NFC) in the Bay Area.

The campaign provides 25 participants with Fitbits to track their steps and fitness activity from March through November 2017. The goal of the NFC is to raise the fitness and activity levels of participants to recommendations set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of 10,000 steps and 30 active minutes per day and to improve overall fitness levels in the blind and low vision community.

In addition to helping participants find creative ways to increase their daily steps by matching them with fitness partners and offering discounted gym memberships, the LightHouse supports participants throughout the course of the campaign with a wide variety of fitness programming and services. We also organize attendance to special events, including VIP access to the annual Cycle for Sight tandem bike ride in Napa on Saturday, April 22 and joining a blind centipede in San Francisco’s annual Bay to Breakers run on Sunday, May 21.

At the LightHouse, you can:

Blindness is not the barrier many think it is to achieving your fitness goals and enjoying greater well-being — and the LightHouse is here to help get into the rhythm.  It’s not too late to join the NFC if you already have a Fitbit — we welcome new participants to join throughout the campaign.

For more information on the National Fitness Challenge, LightHouse services mentioned here, Cycle for Sight or Bay to Breakers, contact Evening & Weekend Program Coordinator Serena Olsen at solsen@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7316.

This Spring, CVCL Answers the Tough Questions for New Students

“I’ve often thought about what I would do if I were to drop a sewing needle.” The instructor intones the answer in a gentle voice: “Listen for the direction and how far from you it has fallen.” Obvious? Not to me.”

When Eleanor Lew came to LightHouse in 2016, dropping a sewing needle or traveling through the dark were questions without obvious answers. These are just a couple of the hundreds of seemingly answerless riddles that we help people solve in our weeklong skills training, Changing Vision Changing Life.

Initially only held a few times a year, CVCL now happens every month. It trades locations between San Francisco and Napa to give students a holistic, two-part experience that builds confidence in all areas, introduces them to other individuals peers who motivate each other through peer learning, and gets them on the right track towards being happy, healthy people — regardless of level of eyesight.

“Introducing us to the scope of low-vision rehabilitation services so that we can live independently and maintain quality of life is the purported reason for the camp,” Eleanor writes. “But the healing power of connection is what surprises us.”

There are hundreds of stories like Eleanor’s that come out of CVCL each year. If you want to know more about her transformation, read about it in the New York Times and tell your friends with changing vision to get in touch with Debbie Bacon at dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org or by calling 415-694-7357.


Sign Up for our upcoming CVCL sessions:

CVCL II (San Francisco): March 20 – 24

CVCL I (Napa): April 3 – 7

CVCL II (San Francisco): May 8 – 12

CVCL I: (Napa): June 12 – 16

CVCL II (San Francisco): July 17 – 21

 

Photos from a Day of Braille Literacy: 2017 Northern California Regional Braille Challenge

On February 25, we welcomed 22 students and their families to the 2017 Northern California Regional Braille Challenge at the LightHouse headquarters. It was a lively day packed with speeches by keynote speakers, testing for students, parent workshops, games and a final award ceremony (complete with a surprise musical performance by a group of contestants).

Hosted in collaboration with Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, California School for the Blind and Braille Institute of America, the Regional Braille Challenge is the first leg of a two-part contest for K-12 youth who read braille. It is designed to encourage and reward students for fine-tuning their braille reading and writing skills.

Any parent or student on Saturday would tell you that Braille Challenge is an unparalleled platform for promoting braille literacy and bringing braille readers of all ages into one space — whether as contestants or judges. It’s also a chance for kids to connect with their blind friends, chuckle about inside jokes, and for parents to learn more about having a child with vision loss and how best to support them (hint from one of our college panelists: “Don’t shelter them!”)

Braille Challenge is not about winning (though we don’t mind a little friendly competition) but we’d like to recognize the students who placed!

Here are the winners of each level of competition. Once all of the Braille Challenge regionals are complete the Braille Institute will invite the top 10% of all of the students that competed in all of the various regionals to the national Braille Challenge later this year.

2017 Northern California Regional Braille Challenge Winners

Apprentice 1. Miles Lima 2. Darren Ou 3. Mikey Diaz

Freshman – 1. Teresa Liu 2. Logon Maschke 3. Melina Mendoza

Sophomore – 1. Luke Pilar 2. Rasheed Ali 3. Alejandro Cervantes

Junior Varsity – 1. Ethan Fung 2. Kaitlyn Austin 3. Rocco Romeo

Varsity – 1. Alexia Arriola

Find a selection of photos from the day-long event below!

 

Four children stand in line before the 2017 Northern California Regional Braille Challenge opening procession.
Four children stand in line before the 2017 Northern California Regional Braille Challenge opening procession.
The young competitors wait in line before the festivities start.
The young competitors wait in line before the festivities start.
A closeup of a student's festive and sparkly red high-tops, with canes visible in the background.
A closeup of a student’s festive and sparkly red high-tops, with canes visible in the background.
Braille Challenge competitors Avery and Darren sit in the front row listening to opening remarks.
Braille Challenge competitors Avery and Darren sit in the front row listening to opening remarks.
Braille challenge competitors Darren and Mikey sit together before the competition begins.
Braille challenge competitors Darren and Mikey sit together before the competition begins.
A shot of the audience shows the kids laughing and one competitor playfully covering her face.
A shot of the audience shows the kids laughing and one competitor playfully covering her face.
Competitor Kaitlyn Austin holds her little sister's hand and leads her to her seat in the LightHouse multipurpose rooms.
Competitor Kaitlyn holds her little sister’s hand and leads her to her seat in the LightHouse multipurpose rooms.
Competitors Rasheed and Teresa sit listening to the day's opening remarks.
Competitors Rasheed and Teresa sit listening to the day’s opening remarks.
 Senior Director of Programs Scott Blanks claps as competitor Nikki enters the main events room (smiling, as usual).
Senior Director of Programs Scott Blanks claps as competitor Nikki enters the main events room (smiling, as usual).
92-year-old Cathy Skivers gives her opening remarks about the importance of braille literacy.
92-year-old Cathy Skivers gives her opening remarks about the importance of braille literacy.
Competitor Miles gets some last minute moral support from his mom before heading into the testing rooms.
Competitor Miles gets some last minute moral support from his mom before heading into the testing rooms.
A close-up of Cathy Skivers' braille notes perched in her lap.
A close-up of Cathy Skivers’ braille notes perched in her lap.
Youth services coordinator Jamey Gump stands in the LightHouse pre-function area speaking to a parent.
Youth services coordinator Jamey Gump stands in the LightHouse pre-function area speaking to a parent.
The apprentice sit in front of their braillers in the 11th Floor Kitchen getting ready for testing to start.
The apprentice sit in front of their braillers in the 11th Floor Kitchen getting ready for testing to start.
The Freshman competitors and their proctors sit at a table together in the LightHouse fitness studio.
The Freshman competitors and their proctors sit at a table together in the LightHouse fitness studio.
College-age students Sergio Lopez-Hernandez, Julie J Bird, Nasir Iqbal and Iman Award offer advice to parents during a panel at Braille Challenge. The main takeaway? "Don't shelter your kids."
College-age students Sergio Lopez-Hernandez, Julie J Bird, Nasir Iqbal and Iman Award offer advice to parents during a panel at Braille Challenge. The main takeaway? “Don’t shelter your kids.”
Competitor Rasheed sits typing at his brailler with headphones in. He is silhouetted against large windows that show the buildings of San Francisco in the background.
Competitor Rasheed sits typing at his brailler with headphones in. He is silhouetted against large windows that show the buildings of San Francisco in the background.
Sophomore competitor Luke wears headphones while completing the speed and accuracy portion of the Braille Challenge.
Sophomore competitor Luke wears headphones while completing the speed and accuracy portion of the Braille Challenge.
IMG_5320
A pink-cheeked Teresa Liu types away at her Perkins Brailler during the spelling portion of the 2017 Braille Challenge. She competed at the Freshman level.
A closeup of the brailled Braille Challenge medals.
A closeup of the brailled Braille Challenge medals.
LightHouse employee BJ Epstein helps check the kids' tests behind the scenes.
LightHouse employee BJ Epstein helps check the kids’ tests behind the scenes.
A stack of freshly brailled tests.
A stack of freshly brailled tests.
Apprentice competitor Avery leans closer to her brailler and furrows her brow intently.
Apprentice competitor Avery leans closer to her brailler and furrows her brow intently.
Junior Varsity competitor Ethan works on the graphs and charts portion of the test.
Junior Varsity competitor Ethan works on the graphs and charts portion of the test.
Junior Varsity competitor Kaitlyn reads a braille chart. She is wearing a royal blue tracksuit that nicely matches her royal blue brailler.
Junior Varsity competitor Kaitlyn reads a braille chart. She is wearing a royal blue tracksuit that nicely matches her royal blue brailler.
Another Junior Varsity tester is deep in concentration during the test.
Another Junior Varsity tester is deep in concentration during the test.
Sophomore competitors in the 11th floor conference room at the LightHouse. Natural light streams onto them through the large window.
Sophomore competitors in the 11th floor conference room at the LightHouse. Natural light streams onto them through the large window.
Friends and family wait on the 11th floor couches for testers to finish up.
Friends and family wait on the 11th floor couches for testers to finish up.
Sophomore competitors are hard at work in the 11th Floor Craft Room.
Sophomore competitors are hard at work in the 11th Floor Craft Room.
Competitor Avery poses with her smiling family, who made shirts that say "Team Avery Bravery" in braille on the front and in text on the back.
Competitor Avery poses with her smiling family, who made shirts that say “Team Avery Bravery” in braille on the front and in text on the back.
Youth Services Coordinator Richie Flores and guest speaker Caitlin Hernandez works with Sophomore competitor Alejandro in the craft room before testing.
Youth Services Coordinator Richie Flores and guest speaker Caitlin Hernandez works with Sophomore competitor Alejandro in the craft room before testing.
Apprentice competitor Miles feels proctor Donna's braille embossed bracelet.
Apprentice competitor Miles feels proctor Donna’s braille embossed bracelet.
Competitor Rasheed sits next to his dad, who rests a loving hand on his head while speaking to him.
Competitor Rasheed sits next to his dad, who rests a loving hand on his head while speaking to him.
IMG_5529
A crowd of students, parents and community members play a game after the testing is over.
Junior Varsity Competitor Monse smiles while holding her cane and a braille notetaker.
Junior Varsity Competitor Monse smiles while holding her cane and a braille notetaker.
A shot of the crowd in their seats — with two students chatting up front.
A shot of the crowd in their seats — with two students chatting up front.
Stuart (formerly of California School for the Blind) and proctor Donna sit close while listening to closing remarks.
Stuart (formerly of California School for the Blind) and proctor Donna sit close while listening to closing remarks.
Sisters Maryam and Mariyah giggle while playing a game after the competition is over.
Sisters Maryam and Mariyah giggle while playing a game after the competition is over.
A competitor's little sister walks holding her dad's hand.
A competitor’s little sister walks holding her dad’s hand.
Sophomore competitor Alejandro sits next to his little sister in the multipurpose rooms.
Sophomore competitor Alejandro sits next to his little sister in the multipurpose rooms.
IMG_5649A yellow lab on duty lays on the floor and turns its head to look directly into the camera.
A yellow lab on duty lays on the floor and turns its head to look directly into the camera.
Varsity competitor Alexia sits up front in the LightHouse multipurpose rooms, holding her braille notetaker
Varsity competitor Alexia sits up front in the LightHouse multipurpose rooms, holding her braille notetaker
College-age panelist Nasir grabs a handful of braille fortune cookies.
College-age panelist Nasir grabs a handful of braille fortune cookies.
Competitor Darren sits on a piano bench with his dad and little sister reading his braille fortune from a fortune cookie. The message? "Never give up."
Competitor Darren sits on a piano bench with his dad and little sister reading his braille fortune from a fortune cookie. The message? “Never give up.”

Get Your Hands Dirty in the LightHouse Teaching Kitchen this Month

If you walk into the LightHouse teaching kitchen on any given day, you’ll find our Cooking Instructor Sydney Ferrario cheerfully bustling around the kitchen, hoisting giant tubs of flour or dicing mounds of plump vegetables. We’ve seen (and tasted) a lot of gourmet concoctions from the LightHouse kitchen thanks to Sydney’s patient guidance.

Not only is she lively, informative, and knows her way around a stand mixer, but she also has plenty of adaptive techniques for cooking and baking to share with her students. She’ll show you that there’s nothing to fear about the kitchen, the oven, or even chopping unwieldy apples with a very sharp knife (hint: it’s all about curling the fingers away from the sharp blade).

Here are some photos from Sydney’s ‘What’s the Scoop? Measure and Mix Cooking Class’. She had a lovely one-on-one with Jane Flower who is Outreach Manager at Guide Dogs for the Blind. Sydney walked Jane through tips for measuring, mixing, chopping and kneading dough to create a warm and flaky apple pastry. Take a moment to check out some shots from the class — and take a look at our upcoming schedule of cooking classes at the LightHouse in March.

Orientation to the Kitchen – March 7 and 9

What’s the Scoop? Measure and Mix – March 14 and 16

On the Edge: Knife Skills – March 21 and 23

The Heat is On! Oven and Stovetop Strategies – March 28 and 30

Learn more about these sessions and sign up.

All participants must be registered students of the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. To enroll as a LightHouse student, please contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org. If you have questions about class content please contact Sydney Ferrario, Instructor, at 415-694-7612 or sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org.

Cooking student Jane Flower cubes butter in the LightHouse Teaching Kitchen.
Cooking student Jane Flower cubes butter in the LightHouse Teaching Kitchen.
Sydney guides Jane's hand over the top of a tin measuring cup to level out the amount of flour.
Sydney guides Jane’s hand over the top of a tin measuring cup to level out the amount of flour.
Jane scoops baking soda and uses her fingertip to feel how full the measuring scoop is.
Jane scoops baking soda and uses her fingertip to feel how full the measuring scoop is.
Jane smiles while Sydney explains a technique for mixing.
Jane smiles while Sydney explains a technique for mixing.
Jane closes her eyes while peeling an apple to feel how much of the apple she has peeled. She slowly turns the apple while peeling strips of skin away from her.
Jane closes her eyes while peeling an apple to feel how much of the apple she has peeled. She slowly turns the apple while peeling strips of skin away from her.
Sydney guides Jane's hands while using a sharp knife to thinly and evenly slice apples. The trick is always curling your fingers away from the knife.
Sydney guides Jane’s hands while using a sharp knife to thinly and evenly slice apples. The trick is always curling your fingers away from the knife.
Jane and Sydney knead pastry dough side by side.
Jane and Sydney knead pastry dough side by side.
Sydney guides Jane's hands along a wooden rolling pin over a hefty ball of pastry dough.
Sydney guides Jane’s hands along a wooden rolling pin over a hefty ball of pastry dough.
Jane and Sydney laugh while leaning over a tray of apple pastries. The dough is spread flat with thin apple slices arranged tidily in the center. They are ready to start folding the dough around the apples.
Jane and Sydney laugh while leaning over a tray of apple pastries. The dough is spread flat with thin apple slices arranged tidily in the center. They are ready to start folding the dough around the apples.
A closeup of Sydney and Jane's hands as they fold the pastry dough around the fresh apple filling.
A closeup of Sydney and Jane’s hands as they fold the pastry dough around the fresh apple filling.
The perfectly prepared pastries are ready to go in the oven.
The perfectly prepared pastries are ready to go in the oven.
Sydney and Jane use a wooden toothpick to test the fresh-out-of-the-oven pastries.
Sydney and Jane use a wooden toothpick to test the fresh-out-of-the-oven pastries.
The finished pastry is golden and flakey with a cinnamon apple filling peaking out of its circular center.
The finished pastry is golden and flakey with a cinnamon apple filling peaking out of its circular center. Ta da!

March’s Employment Immersion Workshop Emphasizes Building Confidence for Job Readiness

“We don’t care if you’re young, old, totally blind, low vision, have a college degree or no college degree,” says Employment Program Manager Kate Williams. “It doesn’t matter as long as you have a real desire to go to work. We furnish our Employment Immersion students with the tools to make sure that happens, by building their confidence and giving them the techniques to conduct a successful job search.”

Everyone in the blindness community knows the statistics: At least 60 — possibly even as many as 70 percent — of legally blind people remain unemployed. That’s why back in 2011 we established a program to give blind job seekers the practical skills they need to get the jobs they want.

Since then, our Employment Immersion program alumni have reached more than $2.8m in annual salaries and achieved an exemplary 43% placement average for alumni, which far exceeds the national average in job placement of people who are blind or visually impaired (the statewide average is 14%). Our programming is constantly evolving to meet changes in technology and the job market.

On March 13, we’ll kick off our all new Employment Immersion Job Preparation Workshop at the LightHouse headquarters, which runs until April 7 and meets every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The workshop’s robust and proven curriculum emphasizes confidence building to ensure job readiness — and features our tried and true lineup of classes that walk students through every step of the job application process.

In the blindness community, we know that one size does not fit all, and this is reflected in the curriculum of this four-week workshop. With a combination of short lectures, interactive activities, expert speakers and candid, honest discussions, each blind or low vision student has an opportunity to explore their interests, aptitudes, and think outside the box about which part of the job market holds the highest promise for their talents and ambitions.

Step-by-step training includes:

  • Using personality indicators like Meyers Briggs and Gallup StrengthFinder to identify core strengths as a springboard to build a career
  • Resume and cover letter building
  • Job search techniques, networking and the hidden job market
  • The application process
  • Blindness disclosure and requesting accommodations
  • Interview preparation including self presentation and body language
  • Free professional and online portrait photographs courtesy of LightHouse for the Blind
  • How to approach an interview and role playing
  • Job retention

Williams, who is a Purpose Prize Winner and nationally recognized job coach by the Wall Street Journal, is the driving force behind these achievements. She knows what it takes to get blind jobseekers into positions that suit them and keep them there — and the payoff doesn’t end on payday.

“We spend a great deal of time on encouraging our attendees to connect,” says Williams. “My motto is ‘People hire people.’ We help students make connections during the job search and interview process that are genuine and show their own authenticity. We’re fostering relationship building — which is a lifelong skill.”

With an increase in referrals as LightHouse steps in as the key provider of services in the East Bay, our Employment Immersion Program is growing and evolving to meet higher standards and increasing volume of blind jobseekers. We’re proud to bring on our new dedicated trainer Angela Denise Davis, who will add new levels of depth and expertise to our classes. This year alone we saw our alumni land jobs in major tech startups, media companies, athletic brands and more. The sky’s the limit, once the skills are there.

Keep chipping away at those employment statistics and sign up for the Employment Job Preparation Workshop this spring. The workshop is open to people who are blind or have low vision, from any background, seeking any job. To sign up, contact Employment Immersion Program Manager Kate Williams at kwilliams@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7324, or Employment Immersion Trainer Angela Davis at adavis@lighthouse-sf.org.

 

Spring Training: Join Our Access Tech Trainers for Opening Day this March

March is a huge month for Access Tech at LightHouse. Not only are we now running free tech trainings as often as three times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays), but we’ll also be holding a daylong open house for those who want to really try out everything our department has to offer. And even better, we’ve lined it up to correspond with the Giant’s Opening Day!

What: AT Opening Day Open House

When: March 23, 2017, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Where: LightHouse Headquarters, 1155 Market St, 10th Floor, San Francisco

It’s quite a batting line-up: Siri, Victor, Sara, Ruby, Candy, the Beetle, Divinci, Alex and his gal Alexa. All of these devices and a myriad of others have the purpose of enhancing your tech independence. The LightHouse AT Specialists, Trainers and AT Vendors will be providing hands on equipment demonstrations and hosting 30 minute product and software workshops throughout the day. Please RSVP to skuan@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7312.  All those who RSVP and show up will automatically be entered to have the chance to win an Amazon Gift Card.

More Tech Classes Coming Up This March:

How to keep your computer safe (March 17, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

Viruses, strange phone calls, unwanted pop-ups and ads – there are a myriad of ways your computer could be attacked. The LightHouse is pleased to offer a free workshop on how to keep your computer safe and keep you up and running. Come and join our one-day workshop and ask those nagging questions about viruses, pop-ups, ads, email attachments, and unwanted phone calls. Our knowledgeable staff will show you the steps on how to keep you and your computer safe from harm, especially if you are a screen reader or zoom user with additional considerations for security.

Windows 10 Tips and Tricks (March 30 – 31, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)

Do you have Windows 10? Did you recently upgrade your computer to Windows 10? Do you find it hard to navigate and difficult to understand? The LightHouse is offering a 2-day free workshop to get you up to speed.

We’ll offer tips, tricks and best practices — whether you are a beginner or an expert, come join us and explore the many features Windows 10 has to offer. Space is limited. For more information or to signup, contact Shen Kuan at 415-694-7312 or skuan@lighthouse-sf.org.

For Ears Only: LightHouse Listenings presents podcast ‘The World According to Sound’ on March 8th and 9th

Ever wondered what bridges sound like? Or ants? In a new event at LightHouse, we’re offering an opportunity to relax, join friends for a drink and simply enjoy the act of listening.

On March 8th and 9th, the LightHouse for the Blind in San Francisco will host its first-ever LightHouse Listenings — a live listening party for ears only — featuring San-Francisco based podcast The World According to Sound.

When: Wednesday, March 8th and Thursday, March 9th at 7 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m.

Where: LightHouse Headquarters, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco

Cost: $10 in advance. $15 at the door (cash only). Visit our Eventbrite page to purchase tickets online. If you experience any difficulties purchasing tickets through Eventbrite, contact LightHouse Events Manager Dagny Brown at dbrown@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7311.

The World According to Sound (WATS) takes you on an hour-long jaunt through sound and space. Auditory hallucinations, cityscapes of bygone eras— these are the sonic oddities you might experience (or just truly pay attention to) for the very first time. Think 100 people sitting in a dark room equipped with sleep shades as they listen to a selection of choreographed sounds coming from eight world-class speakers placed throughout the room.

If it all sounds a little curious or experimental, we’ve got you covered: come straight from work for a beer on us. Doors open at 6. We think letting your mind do a little wondering and wandering might just be the perfect way to unwind after a long day in the office.

Not only are podcasts an inherently accessible medium for the blind and low vision community, but The World According to Sound is perfect for our audience of radio, recording and audio enthusiasts. So we’re teaming up with the podcast to bring the event directly to a local live audience for The World According to Sound’s east coast tour sendoff. It’s your chance to lean back and listen to the sound of blackholes, auctioneers, the Golden Gate Bridge and more — the eyes have no place at this event.

The two public radioheads behind the WATS, Chris Hoff and Sam Harnett, are no strangers to their live event’s popularity in the blind and low vision community — that’s why they approached us to host their east coast tour sendoff. The podcast’s very first donation, back in 2015, came from a blind listener in Nevada, who loved the evocative nature of the 90-second sound show. They have since received recurring praise from other blind and low vision attendees who were refreshed to find an event so tailored to a non visual medium.

Hoff and Harnett also have some interesting theories about sound and visual culture. They think that non visual mediums, like sound, might create a little more room for a special mental state to creep in – one might call it luxurious boredom – a kind of freeing opportunity for the always-spinning brain.

“Visual culture in America is so dominant and controlling,” says Sam. “But when you present sound in the right way, you create a space where your mind is invited to meander.”

“We’re looking for a sound that can communicate to the listener in a new way, evoke something and making you think about the world differently,” says Chris. “Our jobs in public radio have made us pay attention to sound — we’ve been conditioned to listen to spaces.”

You’ll probably walk away from the event thinking about audio in a whole new way. We certainly did after digging into a few episodes on the World According to Sound’s SoundCloud page.

LightHouse Listenings

We present live listening parties for ears only, from live podcast recordings to pre-recorded material, hosted by LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco. We’ll host panels, album releases, live musicians, you name it — if you’re into listening, we’ve got the venue. If you’re interested in staging your event for LightHouse Listenings, contact LightHouse Events Manager Dagny Brown at dbrown@lighthouse-sf.org.

About the World According to Sound

Sam Harnett and Chris Hoff started the World According to Sound show with one idea: to make radio that’s about sound, not storytelling. They both tell stories in their public radio day jobs — Sam as a reporter at KQED and Chris as a sound engineer at KALW. But they believe the medium has potential for so much more. That’s their bigger goal—to bring more sound, more experimentation, and more weirdness to mainstream public radio in their 90-second podcast.

WATS East Coast Tour

Starting on March 25, the World According to Sound will be touring the east coast and presenting their live event at colleges and universities including Skidmore College, University of Vermont,  Boston University and others. First stop? UVM on March 25th. Visit www.theworldaccordingtosound.org to stay updated.

A special thanks goes to BBI Engineering Inc. for sponsoring this event with the donation of eight world-class speakers. 

LightHouse Kitchen Recipe of the Month: Julia Child’s Reine de Saba Cake

To give you a little taste of what we’re cooking in our Betty Ruhland Teaching Kitchen, we’ve decided to publish monthly recipes that you can come learn to bake in one of our two-day cooking classes. 

We’re coming up on Valentine’s Day, which seems as good a time as any to treat your sweetheart (or yourself) to something delicious. Here’s Julia Child’s Reine de Saba (French for Queen of Sheba, and a luscious chocolate cake) to motivate you and your tastebuds to stop by the LightHouse Kitchen in February.

We’ll be baking this recipe at our February What’s the Scoop? Measure and Mix Class on February 14 and 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

This two-day course is designed to help you learn and practice measuring with confidence as we explore techniques for measuring both liquids and dry ingredients in both large and small quantities. We will measure those tricky things like brown sugar, flour, flavorings and oils as well as common conversions and strategies for tricky ingredients.

Come prepared to try new ideas and practice the following skills:

  • Avoiding spills, working in an orderly and tidy fashion
  • Time worn techniques with common household equipment
  • Explore new gadgets and technologies
  • Mixing, blending, beating, whisking, folding, stirring and more

If you have questions about the class content please contact Sydney Ferrario, Instructor, at 415-694-7612 or sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org. Let the baking begin!


Chocolate Almond Cake

  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 T rum or brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup plus 1T sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • Large pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup finely ground almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup sifted cake flour

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour and 8-inch cake pan. Combine chopped chocolate and rum in a medium metal bowl. Set bowl over medium saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Cool melted chocolate, stirring occasionally. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar in large bowl until fluffy and pale. Add egg yolks and beat until blended. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and pinch of salt in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.

Fold chocolate mixture, then almonds and almond extract into yolk mixture. Fold in 1/4 of whites to lighten batter. Fold in 1/3 of remaining whites. Sift 1/3 of flour over and fold in. Fold in remaining whites alternately with flour in 2 more additions each. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Push some batter 3/4 inch up sides of pan with rubber spatula (batter will slip down).

Bake cake until puffed and gently set in center and tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes. Cut around pan sides and carefully turn cake out onto rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

Chocolate Butter Icing

  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rum or brewed coffee
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Combine chocolate and rum in small metal bowl. Set bowl over small saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Using wooden spoon, beat in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until icing is smooth. Place bowl over medium bowl filled with ice water. Continue to beat until icing is cool and thickened to spreading consistency. Place cake on platter. Scrape icing onto top center. Using small offset spatula, spread icing evenly and thinly over top and sides of cake.