Day’s Toyota Camry will be repping the LightHouse logo on the right and left back quarter panels, complete with the “L” and “H” braille dots that will no doubt turn heads both on television and from the stands as the 200-mile per hour vehicle pulls in to refuel. Thanks to BK Racing, we’ll also have a few NASCAR enthusiasts from the LightHouse community behind the scenes for VIP pre-race garage and pit tours, as well as a meet and greet with Alon Day. They’ll also be sitting with his crew chief atop the pit box during the race, so whether you’re watching from the grandstands or the ESPN telecast, look out for those white canes.
“Blind people aspire to participate in all aspects of culture, including NASCAR,” says LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin. “We love the drive, energy and daring along lines of excellence and our community is thrilled to be a part of it as a sponsor for Alon Day’s debut.”
“I’m very proud to have a great organization like Lighthouse for the Blind on the car for my Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut,” says Day. “The work that they do for blind individuals in California and around the world is truly inspiring.”
“I am excited to have Lighthouse for the Blind on our car this weekend,” said Team Owner, Ron Devine. “The work they do is special, and it’s an honor to have them join us for the race. If you’d like to donate, you can visit their donate page atlighthouse-sf.org/donate/form/.”
About BK Racing
BK Racing is a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Racing team headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. The team was founded in 2012 after owners Ron Devine and Wayne Press acquired Red Bull Racing. BK Racing’s staff of highly skilled mechanics and engineers fields the No. 23 & 83 entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as a Toyota Racing team. The 2017 season will be BK Racing’s 6th consecutive full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Follow us on Twitter@BKRacing_2383,Facebook, and Instagram@bkracing_2383. Visit us atBKRacingTeam.com.
If you’re blind or visually impaired, you know that going to the movies isn’t as simple as smothering your popcorn in butter and leaning back in a cushy chair. While you wait thirty minutes for the manager to locate and set up assistive devices, you’ve already missed the beginning of the movie — if the device even functions properly.
But over the last year, LightHouse partner Actiview designed and prototyped a mobile solution to this problem within the walls of the LightHouse headquarters, and even 3D printed their streaming devices in our Toyota Innovation Tech Lab as part of our startup accelerator. They have since moved their base to our Berkeley satellite location.
The team and their direction were influenced by many hours of feedback from LightHouse blind staff. We supported Actiview through their beta version because we think it is a huge step in the right direction towards accessibility for all moviegoers.
There is a strong buzz about this new technology as the wider community understands that Actiview will be able to provide affordable access to thousands of movie screens. Last week, industry reporter TechCrunch wrote a fascinating feature on this LightHouse-supported technology. You can read the whole story here.
The newest release from Disney•Pixar, Cars 3, will be fully supported by the Actiview app, delivering both amplified audio and audio description, free of charge, to anyone who downloads the app and shows up at the theater. Audio description is for blind users, with a voiceover track describing what is happening on screen. Amplified audio takes the audio of the movie and makes the dialogue clearer and louder, for hard of hearing attendees.
The LightHouse Media and Accessible Design Lab (MAD Lab) is the sole translator for authorized braille versions of a variety of Apple User’s Guides. Earlier this year, Apple commissioned the MAD Lab to translate a few of their new manuals into braille. This week, as the culmination of several months of work, free Braille Ready Files (BRFs) are available online. You may also purchase embossed versions of these manuals in our Adaptations Store.
Call 1-888-400-8933 today to order one of the following manuals in braille at the standard braille embossing rate of $0.50 a page. Click on the any of the links below and scroll down to ‘User Guides’ to access free BRFs to print from your own embosser.
For blind braille readers who use Apple products, this is a huge step towards tech literacy. The iOS manuals provide detailed insight into optimizing these products and leveraging the accessible features for personal and professional use. The embossed manuals offer a complete set of directions on how to use each Apple operating system, intelligently organized into multiple volumes of interpoint Braille.
Get even more familiar with your Apple products by attending a FREE weekly Access Tech Training at our headquarters on Tuesdays between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. To make an appointment, contact Access Technology Coordinator Shen Kuan at email@example.com or 415-694-7312.
A few weekends ago marked our first-ever Maker Faire Made Accessible, a full weekend of hands-on education for blind youth and adults interested in the maker movement. The weekend included an overnight stay at LightHouse with a series of workshops and a daylong trip to the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo.
Participants gathered at the LightHouse on Friday to learn Arduino from board member Joshua Miele, explore tactile maps from MAD Lab, and learn the ins and outs of painting while blind from artist Charles Blackwell.
On Saturday, 28 blind participants and 20 sighted Oracle volunteers hit the Maker Faire to explore the wonders the festival has to offer — including drone racing, robotic dinosaurs, motorized driving cupcakes and the famous Maker Faire dark room with its flashing light installations.
We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Oracle for making Maker Faire Made Accessible possible with a generous grant and time generously offered by 20 volunteers.
It’s Pride month, and here at LightHouse, our staff, students and allies are walking around the city, exploring exciting new ideas, and continuing to build the confidence and self-esteem of those in our community. We’re also thinking, from a blindness perspective, more than ever about what it really means to “be seen.”
At its heart, Pride is about proudly and publicly claiming an identity that society has consistently stigmatized or disregarded. We’re marching on June 25 in celebration of our LGBTQ community members, and to honor our many intersecting identities. People with disabilities are often either stripped of sexuality, or fetishized. This year we’re grabbing our canes, our guide dogs and our rainbow swag and taking to the streets to let the world know we’re blind, proud and sexual to boot.
We introduced the #BeSeenSF hashtag exactly one year ago when preparing for our big grand opening at 1155 Market Street. On June 10th, 2016 more than a thousand people took over the streets of downtown San Francisco and marched into our new building – people with all levels of vision, from all walks of life. It was a spectacle in the best way possible: a display of joy and unity around a state of being that most people identify as a disability.
We didn’t stop there. Over the course of the year, we released several bold statements about what it means to be seen. Standing six feet tall and spread throughout the Civic Center BART station, each ad is a vivid, illuminated burnt orange with artistic rendering of a blind person going about their business – cooking, exercising, or moving through the streets with a cane or a dog. These tasks may seem mundane, but by putting the blind individual front and center, occupying the focus of the scene and popping boldly out of the brightly colored ad, we send a clear message to the public of San Francisco: blindness is just another way of being – and worth looking at in a different light.
Below, you can peruse all of the artwork for our ads, which were designed by J. Renae Davidson for LightHouse from July 2016 to March 2017. Pictured in them are some of the treasured staff, mentors and role models who you’ll regularly see strolling Market Street on any given day.
This compilation of all our Bart Ads features an orange background with the words (in white) “The Best Place to Be Seen”. A tile of six black and white stylized drawings are as follows.
Top left: A man crosses the street in downtown San Francisco with his white cane. White words below the image read “Learning to use a White Cane”.
Top right: A woman stands at a bus stop with her guide dog, reading a tactile map. Words below the image say “Reading maps”.
Middle left: A man uses an Arduino continuity tester in the LightHouse Toyota Innovation STEM lab on the 11th floor. Text reads “Building Electronics: No Eyes Necessary”.
Middle right: A man chops juicy vegetables in the LightHouse Teaching Kitchen. Text reads “Cookin’ Without Lookin’: Now, That’s Delicious!”
Bottom left: A woman in the LightHouse Adaptations Store holds a magnifying glass up to her eye. Text reads, “Adapting Your Vision. White canes, talking watches, magnifiers & more”.
Bottom right: A woman runs alongside her fitness partner using a lead. The Golden Gate Bridge stands out behind them. Text reads, “Taking Strides Together. Find Your Fitness Partner Today!”
Last year, SF PRIDE had its first ever blind grand marshal, Belo Cipriani, a welcome reminder that not only are our journeys often parallel, but our identities have significant overlap. This year, Sexual Health Services Program Coordinator Laura Millar is taking our PRIDE participation to the next level, and she wants you to join her. For more information, RSVP on Eventbrite or email Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ruth Hartman has distinct memories of her ‘Grandma Pearl’ using a Perkins brailler. She can picture her hands passing over the pages of braille she transcribed for Dr. Abraham Nemeth, who developed the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics in the 1960s. Pearl Hartman, who was sighted, was Nemeth’s personal braille transcriber. She never would have guessed at that time that her granddaughter Ruth would go blind, many years later.
“When I sat down and tried to type a few words on the brailler, or felt braille for the first time, it brought back wonderful memories and connections to my grandmother,” she says, nostalgia coloring her voice. “I’ve always loved words. I like math. There was something about solving the puzzle of braille that I found really enthralling. I’m a busy person but I’ve carved out hundreds of hours to learn braille in the last year.”
And it’s true—Ruth is a busy person. She runs her own marketing and communications business, called Wordcraft. She’s a leader at her synagogue, teaches peer counseling, and dedicates her time to vegetarian cooking and bread baking. She’s an avid reader, follows politics and baseball, and raised two daughters who are now in their 20s. She’s done all of this as her vision declined due to a progressive condition over the last 30 years. But two years ago, she felt like she needed to make a change.
“I was feeling more the loss and grief and fear and the feelings of panic were getting more difficult to manage as my central vision was deteriorating more,” she says. “I needed to make some kind of mental breakthrough—but I didn’t know what it was.”
And in fall of 2015, Ruth heard an interview on KQED that piqued her interest. It was LightHouse Executive Director Bryan Bashin speaking about the Donald Sirkin bequest, his philosophies on blindness and his plans for the future of LightHouse.
His bold perspective on blindness lit a fire under Ruth, and without hesitating she signed up for the Immersion Retreat at Enchanted Hills Camp in February 2016. She found the immersion excruciatingly difficult, but she stuck it out. And after a week navigating on her own and hearing stories from other students, she had the change of heart she was searching for.
“The breakthrough was a shift from ‘I’m a sighted person who is slowly and inexorably and tragically losing my eyesight’, to ‘I’m a blind person, just like all these other blind people here, who is living a pretty good life as a blind person’,” she says. “That might sound obvious or not like a big deal, but for me it was very profound. It made me feel like blind people are my people. That was a big thing — and I still think about each of the people there and what their stories were.”
“We were all in it together and there were all these resources that were being offered. I start thinking, ‘What do I need to shift to live my life really understanding that I’m a blind person and there are resources available and I can find my way from A to B, even if I don’t have someone there by my elbow’. So that was kind of the mindset that led me from one LightHouse service to the next.”
CVCL led her on a long path with LightHouse, from orientation and mobility classes with Katt Jones, counseling with Rachel Longan, braille instruction with Divina Carlson, and access tech instruction with Shen Kuan. Ruth also enthusiastically marched in the 1155 Market Street Grand Opening parade in June 2015, bringing her full-circle from her initial introduction to the organization.
“There’s no feeling of tragedy in the air at LightHouse,” she says. “A lot of sighted people say things to a blind person, like oh I can’t imagine. And there’s nobody at LightHouse who can’t imagine. Everyone understands.”
LightHouse helped show her a path forward, but it was Ruth who stayed highly motivated and kept coming back for more. Along with seeking braille instruction at LightHouse, Ruth took three classes at Hadley School for the Blind and practiced consistently on her own. She’s also starting to make the transition from magnification to using a screen reader, which will allow her to extend her work life for several years.
Now, she’s in the midst of reading her very first braille book: Carol by Patricia Highsmith.
“There’s something about holding a book in your hands, something about hearing the words in your head instead of in your ears,” she says. “I don’t have a lot of speed at braille, but I think I will enjoy braille for the rest of my life.”
To sign up for a Changing Vision Changing Life retreat, contact Debbie Bacon, Rehabilitation Counselor at email@example.com or 415-694-7357. The next CVCL sessions take place June 12 through 16 at Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa and July 17 through 21 at LightHouse Headquarters in downtown San Francisco.
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 number of YouTube ‘likes’ for his ambitious idea. These finalists will all be in the running to make their ambitions a reality when our Holman Committee meets in San Francisco this June.
The ten finalists we selected (plus one selected by the internet) are as diverse and dynamic a group as you could imagine, including those who want to give back to their communities, those who seek to push the boundaries of science and tech, to those with infectious enthusiasm for a particular craft.
Over the next month, we hope you’ll sound off on which Holman Prize candidate you want to see take their ambitions on the road. Feel free to tag Holman Prize on Twitter, Instagram and head to the LightHouse’s Facebook page for more updates.
Meet the Finalists
Ahmet Ustunel, who lives in San Francisco, plans to take a solo kayak journey across the Bosphorus Strait from Europe to Asia. To prepare, he proposes to develop his non-visual kayak guidance system over the course of several months, including several voyages around San Francisco Bay, practicing a total of 500 miles over the course of the year before embarking for Turkey.
Caroline Kamaluga lives in Zomba, a city in the Southern Region of Malawi, where women and especially blind women are lucky if they receive sufficient education. One of these fortunate few, Kamaluga proposes to give back to her community by developing a mentorship for blind girls throughout the country. Currently an elementary school student teacher, she hopes to foster a new sense of strength amongst the girls of Malawi.
Jamie Principato is a physics student from Colorado who wants to show the world that rocket science is within reach for blind and low vision students who have a motivation to thrive in the sciences. Jamie is developing a series of workshops called Project BLAST, which will use adaptive technology to allow blind students to send high altitude balloons to the outer limits of the stratosphere.
Muttasim Fadl, who lives in Baltimore and trains blind and low vision students here in America, wants to return to his home country of Sudan and give back. Over two months of travel through the country, Muttasim would like to deliver both valuable tools, such as white canes, as well as lectures, in order to enable blind students to succeed in their pursuits.
Ojok Simon, who lives in rural Uganda, wants to create jobs where they are not available. A beekeeper by trade, Ojok wants to train blind and visually impaired people in his community to build and maintain their own bee farms to inspire a future generation of apiary entrepreneurs.
Peggy Chong calls herself “The Blind History Lady.” Based in New Mexico, Chong has a passion for uncovering stories about great blind individuals, much like James Holman, whose stories might go otherwise without note into the annals of history. Chong proposes to travel throughout America, visiting archives and collecting information about these individuals who might have at one time been Holman Prize contenders themselves.
Penny Melville-Brown, from the UK, has a baking show unlike any other. She proposes a whirlwind itinerary across the world in which she visits culinary experts both blind and sighted, cooking together, talking about food and documenting it all on video. Brown would like to make “Blind Baking” a household name.
Rachel Magario, who was born in Brazil and now lives in Colorado, has a passion for exploration, and with a travel show all her own, she hopes to document how blind people experience the world in a format that is fascinating for any audience. Like a blind Anthony Bourdain, Magario proposes to trip around North America this year, landing herself in some unlikely spots and crafting a fun, relatable narrative about how blind people explore.
Saghatel Basil has ambitions of peace in the Middle East. After growing up in Croatia, Syria and Yemen, and now residing in Sweden, Saghatel wants to embark on a path of peacekeeping trainings around Europe that will allow him to give back to those uprooted by various conflicts in the Middle East.
Tony Llanes believes that blind folks can have a crucial role in maintaining the infrastructure and safety of his home, the Philippines. An amateur radio operator, Tony proposes to train a cadre of blind individuals to build a radio network that will serve as a lifeline in times of natural disaster. Prone to extreme weather, earthquakes and other fast-acting crises, Tony’s project would turn blind radio operators into valuable agents of disaster relief.
Peoples’ Choice Finalist: Felipe Rigoni Lopes has big ambitions to become the first blind president of Brazil. Though Felipe’s educational journey has been largely funded through scholarships, he applied to the Holman Prize to raise awareness and help propel other blind individuals who find themselves drawn to participate in politics.
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 participation.
Who: Students ages 14 and up and their blind or sighted friends.
Where: Fitness Studio at LightHouse Headquarters, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco
When: Mondays at 5:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. Classes last 75 minutes. (Please note that beginning in Monday, June 5, classes will be Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 to 6:45 PM, both days.) Classes close 10 minutes after the start time.
Class fee: $10 per class. Yoga mats, blocks and belts will be provided. This class is open to the public, blind or sighted, so bring a friend!
For inquiries or to RSVP, contact Evening & Weekend Program Coordinator Serena Olsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-694-7316.
Note: Yoga may require intense physical exertion. While it can be modified to meet your needs, we suggest that if you have any concerns prior to participating, please consult your doctor.
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 to select our winners in just a few weeks.
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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