Tag Archives: accessibility

Win Two Free Tickets to Tomorrow’s Accessible Pre-Screening of ‘Wonderstruck’ at Mill Valley Film Festival

Following in the footsteps of accessible festivals like Superfest International Disability Film Festival, more mainstream festivals like Mill Valley Film Festival (October 5 – 15) are starting to catch on to the importance of accessible viewing.

In collaboration with our partners at accessible moviegoing app Actiview, we’re offering you (and a plus one) a chance to attend Mill Valley’s VIP accessible pre-screening of the 2017 film ‘Wonderstruck’ (Julianne Moore, Amazon). The screening is tomorrow, Friday, October 13 at 7 p.m. at The Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center (1118 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA 94901). Actiview will be providing Audio Description and Closed Captioning through their app, which you can download online.

There will be press, potentially some of the people that worked on the movie, and more. It’s an opportunity to show filmmakers that access is crucial—and that blind and deaf people want to attend their movies!

The film travels through two different eras — 1927 and 1977 — and follows two deaf children who secretly wish their lives were different. In the earlier time period, Rose (Millicent Simmonds) begins a quest to find her idol, actress Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore). Fifty years later, Ben (Oakes Fegley) searches for his father in New York. “Wonderstruck” is adapted from a novel of the same name by Brian Selznick. In his Cannes Film Festival review, Variety’s Owen Glieberman praised Haynes’ direction, writing, “For a while it plays like two movies in one, and Haynes is so on his game in staging each of them that the audience gets swept right up in the bittersweet mixed-media rapture of his filmmaking.”

To enter to win tickets, contact LightHouse Producer Camilla Sterne at csterne@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7306 before 10 a.m. on Friday, October 13. Please be absolutely certain you can attend the screening before you enter!

Actiview is collaborating with Mill Valley on a number of accessible screenings throughout the weekend, particularly two on Sunday, October 15 that you can still purchase tickets for! It’s a great opportunity to try out the app and see a few well-regarded new films, for only $15 with advanced ticket purchase.

Here’s the info:

Breathe (Andrew Garfield, Bleeker Street)
Watch the trailer.
Sunday 10/15 Century Larkspur Theater at 11:30am.
Tickets available in advance for $15

Last Flag Flying (Steve Carell, Lionsgate)
Watch the trailer.
Sunday 10/15 Century Larkspur Theater at 2pm.
Tickets available in advance for $15

New Movie Tech for the Blind and Deaf, Actiview, Launches with Disney’s Cars 3

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.

On June 16, Actiview launched in the App Store to offer widespread accessibility for the summer Pixar release of Cars 3.

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.

Here’s what to know:

  • Available on the App Store (http://appstore.com/activiewempoweredentertainment)
  • Audio Description for Blind and Low Vision
  • Amplified audio for Hard of Hearing
  • Captions and Languages coming soon
  • Works with Cars 3 in all US theaters
  • Assistive services are free

How to use Actiview:

  1. Download the Actiview App from the App Store.
  2. On June 16, Cars 3 assistive audio (assistive tracks will be available to for download in advance. Download over Wi-Fi before getting to the theater if you want to save on data use)
  3. Go to the Cars 3 screening of your choice, open the app, and choose either Audio Description, Amplified Audio or the two tracks combined.
  4. Give us your feedback by emailing comments to team@actiview.co or by calling our hotline at 1(844)-399-2789 to sound off!

Please note: The first time a user opens the app, there is a 30-second tutorial helping the user to understand how to navigate the app which requires headphones to go through.

Now Available at Adaptations: Next Generation Braille Apple Manuals

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.

Adaptations also carries a wide variety of low-vision and blindness products, including talking watches and alarm clocks, games, kitchen products, braille supplies and much, much more. Get in touch with us at (415) 694-7301 or adaptations@lighthouse-sf.org, or stop by our store between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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 skuan@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7312.

Photos from The First-Ever Maker Faire, Made Accessible

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.

Check out the photos below: 

Participants feel the large tactile globe at LightHouse headquarters.
Participants feel the large tactile globe at LightHouse headquarters.
Painter Charles Blackwell guides a student’s hand as she feels the raised paint on his painting.
Painter Charles Blackwell guides a student’s hand as she feels the raised paint on his painting.
Maker Faire participants read tactile maps at the LightHouse headquarters.
Maker Faire participants read tactile maps at the LightHouse headquarters.
A closeup of a student's hand examining arduino electronics.
A closeup of a student’s hand examining arduino electronics.
Arduino expert Josh Miele teaches participants about electronics in the Toyota Innovation Lab at LightHouse.
Arduino expert Josh Miele teaches participants about electronics in the Toyota Innovation Lab at LightHouse.
Three participants stand outside of Maker Faire chatting with an Oracle Volunteer.
Three participants stand outside of Maker Faire chatting with an Oracle Volunteer.
Youth Services Coordinator Richie Flores holds a spiral of purple rope lights in the Dark Room.
Youth Services Coordinator Richie Flores holds a spiral of purple rope lights in the Dark Room.
After a long day of exploring the Faire, a yellow lab guide dog rests its head on a participant's leg.
After a long day of exploring the Faire, a yellow lab guide dog rests its head on a participant’s leg.
A group of participants and LightHouse Staff including Youth Services Coordinators Richie Flores and Jamey Gump, and Director of Access Technology Erin Lauridsen feel lush blades of grass in a aquaponics display.
A group of participants and LightHouse Staff including Youth Services Coordinators Richie Flores and Jamey Gump, and Director of Access Technology Erin Lauridsen feel lush blades of grass in an aquaponics display.
Richie and a participant stand next to a robotic dinosaur.
Richie and a participant stand next to a robotic dinosaur.
Richie, Erin and a student smile for group shot.
Richie, Erin and a student smile for group shot.
A group shot of two participants and an Oracle volunteer.
A group shot of two participants and an Oracle volunteer.
Jamey and five students smile for a group picture.
Jamey and five students smile for a group picture.
Two students and an Oracle volunteer pose together.
Two students and an Oracle volunteer pose together.
Two students and an Oracle volunteer pose together.
Two students and an Oracle volunteer pose together.
Participants in the bus on the way to Maker Faire raise their arms in celebration.
Participants in the bus on the way to Maker Faire raise their arms in celebration.

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

 

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

Aira’s agents are the backbone of their operation, and it’s safe to say these paid professionals have some of the coolest jobs you could imagine. Aira has put out an announcement that they are hiring agents in the San Francisco Bay Area, to work from home or from the co-working spaces available at LightHouse.

If you’re interested, read the full posting here www.FencingDirect.com.

Aira Agent – Part Time, San Francisco

At Aira, we are giving increased freedom and independence to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. But we need your help as the star of our service!

As an Aira Agent you simply log onto our dashboard from your computer at home and begin answering video calls from our customers who reside across the United States – you will help them to shop, read their mail or computer screen, cook meals or even describe individuals in social settings – the scenarios are varied and unique. You will join a small but growing team of Aira Agents who, along with training, will help you hone your skills and share your calls.

Through a live video stream, you are able to see what they would be seeing, and provide the information they need to make decisions or explore their world.

Hours are flexible. We offer a range of hours per day between the times of 4 a.m PST to 10pm PST.

In order to apply, submit here. To see more about Aira go to Aira Inspiration or the Aira Website.

We are looking for:

  • People that are Enthusiastic, eager, and well spoken.
  • People that love to search the web and find the best info.
  • People that can multitask while remaining focused and calm.
  • People that want to grow with a company- the opportunities are just beginning with Aira.

AMC Theaters Agrees to Improve Services for Blind Movie-Goers

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

San Francisco, CA – April 28, 2017 – AMC Theaters (AMC) has reached an agreement with several blind individuals, the California Council of the Blind (CCB), and the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco (LightHouse) to ensure blind customers have reliable access to audio description services at AMC movie theaters nationwide.

Audio description is a verbal description of the visual events on screen, which plays between pauses in dialogue. Many movies come with audio description tracks, and customers who are blind or visually impaired can listen to audio description through special headsets that are available at the theatres. With audio description, people who are blind and visually-impaired can fully enjoy the important and beloved American pastime of going to the movies.

Under the agreement, AMC will require the managers and staff who are responsible for programming and handing out audio description equipment to be trained on the equipment. AMC and the plaintiffs in the case have developed staff and customer information guides to facilitate better service. AMC also will require managers to check the equipment regularly. Additionally, AMC will now offer audio description immediately before the feature movie begins, so customers can test the equipment before the feature movie begins to help ensure customers don’t miss any of the movie troubleshooting problems. In the rare event that a theater’s audio description equipment is out of service, AMC will now update theater websites to remove the audio description designation from showtimes. AMC has agreed to implement these changes in theaters nationwide.

This agreement resolves a lawsuit brought by CCB, the LightHouse, and several individuals, represented by Disability Rights Advocates and Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, in 2016, alleging that audio description equipment at AMC theaters frequently malfunctioned and that AMC staff did not properly check, program, or distribute the equipment to customers. AMC has provided audio description equipment to customers for years, but some blind individuals have had difficulty accessing the service because of equipment and customer service issues.

AMC Theatres and the Plaintiffs look forward to improved access to audio description services for blind and visually-impaired persons across the country.

Plaintiff Scott Blanks commented, “This settlement marks an important step toward improving access to the movies for people who are blind or have a vision impairment. I’m looking forward to going to AMC theaters and enjoying the movies with my family when AMC makes the changes to improve reliability of audio description in its theaters.”

Cynthia Pierce, AMC Senior Vice President for Facilities, Sight and Sound for AMC commented, “AMC is pleased to have worked with these organizations and individuals to develop solutions that will help bring the joy of movies to the blind community.”

California Council of the Blind President Judy Wilkinson stated, “The California Council of the Blind applauds AMC for working with us to enhance access to the movie-going experience for people who are blind. Movies are a central pillar of modern society, and ensuring that the blind community receives access to this content is critical to ensure that people who are blind are fully integrated into society.”

Bryan Bashin, Executive Director/CEO of the LightHouse states, “Access to reliable audio description is essential to ensure that blind movie-goers are able to enjoy movies in the same way that their sighted friends and family members do. Dependable audio description levels the playing field for the blind community. The LightHouse is pleased with AMC’s commitment to providing this service to blind movie-goers. We look forward to working with AMC to ensure that all blind movie-goers have a seamless experience when utilizing audio description.

Plaintiffs’ counsel Rebecca Williford of Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) explains, “We are pleased that AMC is committed to improving audio description services in its theaters. Audio description should be as reliable as any other service or technology at an AMC theater, such as a sound system or popcorn machine.”

Ernest Galvan of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, counsel for Plaintiffs, said “when effectively implemented, technology like audio description has the power to further integrate people with disabilities into their communities.  By improving access to audio description services, this agreement harnesses that potential.”

Press Contacts

Scott Blanks

Senior Director, Programs

Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

sblanks@lighthouse-sf.org

Rebecca Williford, Disability Rights Advocates

(510) 665-8644

rwilliford@dralegal.org

Michael Nunez, Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP

(415) 433-6830

mnunez@rbgg.com

About the California Council of the Blind

California Council of the blind (CCB) is a non-profit membership organization composed of Californians who are blind or have low vision. CCB’s mission is to gain full independence and equality of opportunity for all blind and visually impaired Californians. To read more about CCB visit: http://www.ccbnet.org/.

About the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (the LightHouse), a San Francisco-based non-profit corporation, is California’s oldest organization serving the blind and visually impaired community. Through training, mentorship and recreation, the LightHouse is dedicated to aiding blind and visually impaired individuals in leading productive, enriching, and independent lives. For more information visit www.lighthouse-sf.org.

About Disability Rights Advocates

Disability Rights Advocates is one of the leading non-profit disability rights legal centers in the nation. With offices in Berkeley and New York City, DRA’s mission is to advance equal rights and opportunities for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA has successfully negotiated access improvements to many contemporary technologies, including Redbox’s self-service video rental kiosks, Scribd’s digital library, the Uber ridesharing platform, and Netflix’s video streaming and disc rental. For more information, visit www.dralegal.org.

About Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP

Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP is a private law firm that specializes in complex litigation, including with respect to business disputes, employment matters, institutional reform, and civil rights.  For more information, visit www.rbgg.com/.

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

“Blind people are makers. Since 1917 LightHouse blind workers under the Blindcraft label have made everything from fine rattan furniture to advanced basketry and even chains and rope for the US Navy. Today, blind people solder, build robots and do advanced woodworking,” says Dr. Joshua Miele, Associate Director of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, organizer of the local Blind Arduino Meetup and LightHouse Board Member. “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 Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa. This spring, we’re looking for up to 20 young makers to attend 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. Thanks to a generous grant from Oracle we’ll be offering full scholarships to cover fees and travel expenses for a few lucky participants — so sign up early! The deadline to register is May 5.

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.

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.

LightHouse to Provide Apple Technology for Students with Low Vision

 Reading is a simple pleasure; it’s also an educational necessity and a human right that millions of people with low vision are denied worldwide. Today, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco is pleased to announce an initiative that will put new technology into the hands of students with low vision, ensuring they have easy, continuous access to books.

Partnering with LightHouse Guild and the San Francisco-based American Academy of Ophthalmology, the LightHouse will train qualifying low vision students to instantly access over half a million books and read text with a whole new comfort level. Each student who meets income and eyesight requirements will receive an Apple iPad loaded with Spotlight Gateway, a new app designed specifically to expand access to digital reading materials for people with low vision. The program also includes complimentary trainings at LightHouse’s new headquarters at 1155 Market Street in San Francisco.

“The highest priority for a young person is a level playing field for learning,” says LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin, “and we won’t take exception to that for students with low vision who need better tools for reading. This is a program to ensure that hundreds of students across the West Coast get access to the printed page through the latest software.”

The LightHouse is launching its West Coast iPad Program in tandem with Lighthouse Guild’s program in New York as well as VisionServe Alliance members, who also provide services for individuals who are blind or have low vision throughout the United States.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s community of member ophthalmologists — physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care —  will support this effort by certifying qualified students across the country for the program. Participation in this program is part of the Academy’s ongoing effort to quickly refer low vision patients to vision rehabilitation services that lessen the impact of their change in vision, providing them with tools for greater literacy and, consequently, a fuller life.

“Patients can learn how to maximize their potential by using assistive devices and techniques,” says Philip R. Rizzuto, MD, American Academy of Ophthalmology. “This initiative supports ophthalmology’s commitment to helping these young people in every possible way.”

Apple Inc., has become a leader in the field of accessibility, ensuring that every one of their products functions off the shelf for blind users: Bookshare® is the national leader in providing texts to K-12 blind students; and Spotlight Gateway is built to utilize the full, vivid screen of the iPad. The combination will facilitate a huge leap forward for many struggling and underserved students across the country.

LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco and Lighthouse Guild in New York City will distribute a limited number of iPads in their respective regions, and VisionServe Alliance members (with offices across the country) will provide locations where students can access iPads if they are not in NYC or Northern California.

February 1, 2017: Ophthalmologists may begin registering students at the AAO website’s low vision rehabilitation page.

Mar. 1, 2017: Distribution program begins with tech trainings at LightHouse in San Francisco and Lighthouse Guild in New York City.

For more info on referrals, contact sblanks@lighthouse-sf.org. For press, contact press@lighthouse-sf.org.

 

About The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Founded in 1902, San Francisco’s LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired promotes the independence, equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or have low vision. LightHouse offers blindness skills training and relevant services such as access to employment, education, government, information, recreation, transportation and the environment. LightHouse also pursues the development of new technology, encourages innovation, and amplifies the voices of blind individuals around the world. Headquartered in downtown San Francisco, the LightHouse offers training programs and short term residences to accommodate students from the San Francisco Bay Area and abroad. LightHouse also runs the Superfest International Disability Film Festival and Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa, and the newly announced Holman Prize for Blind Ambition. Visit lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-431-1481 for more information.

About American Academy of Ophthalmology: The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, the AAO protects sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit aao.org.

About Bookshare®: Bookshare®, a Benetech initiative, is the world’s largest online library of accessible ebooks for people with print disabilities. Through its extensive collection of educational and popular titles, specialized book formats and reading tools, Bookshare® offers individuals who cannot read standard print materials the same ease of access that people without disabilities enjoy. The Bookshare® library has over 500,000 titles and serves more than 450,000 members. Access to Bookshare® is free for all U.S. students with a qualifying print disability. Bookshare® is an initiative of Benetech®, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit that develops and uses technology to create positive social change. For more information, visit bookshare.org.

About Spotlight Text: Spotlight Text, developed by Focus Reading Technology, Inc. and Dr. Howard Kaplan, is the first eBook reader specifically for individuals with low vision. With scrolling text available in marquee or teleprompter mode, The Spotlight Gateway iPad app provides a large, easy-to-use interface for people who require larger text. For more information, visit spotlighttext.com

About Lighthouse Guild: Lighthouse Guild, based in New York, is a leading not-for-profit vision and healthcare organization with a long history of addressing the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities or chronic medical conditions. With more than 200 years of experience and service, Lighthouse Guild brings a level of understanding to vision care that is unmatched. By integrating vision and healthcare services and expanding access through its programs and education and awareness, we help people lead productive, dignified and fulfilling lives. For more information, visit Lighthouseguild.org

About VisionServe Alliance: VisionServe Alliance, founded in 1987, and now celebrating its 25th year, provides a forum for top executives of private agencies and organizations specializing in blindness and represents the interests of such agencies before many organizations, professional, governmental and non-profit groups. VisionServe Alliance is the only organization whose members directly represent every aspect of services to people who are blind or visually impaired, including dog guide schools, adult rehabilitation agencies, private residential schools, early intervention and pre-school programs, career placement/employment and manufacturing, membership organizations, advocacy organizations, low vision clinics, and services to those with multiple disabilities. For more information about VisionServe Alliance, visit the website visionservealliance.org or call 314-961-8235.

Blind Soldering: See Photos from Our First-ever Electrical Workshop

On November 6, the LightHouse held its first-ever soldering workshop for people who are blind or have low vision. It was a huge success, and we have the photographs to prove it! Scroll down for more.

Soldering is a fundamental skill in electronics work that involves using a hot iron to fuse metal to form a permanent connection between electronic components. The aim of the workshop was to help students make their own accessible continuity testers – one of the most fundamental tools for students working in electronics without vision.

While most continuity testers use lights to indicate the strength of electric currents, accessible continuity testers emit a range of tones — high for a free path and low for an impeded path. Unfortunately, accessible continuity testers cannot be purchased, and previous manufacturers have ceased production. Each student left the workshop with a fully-functioning accessible continuity tester for use in their future work; and the skills to solder it themselves.

LightHouse extends a special thanks to Dr. Joshua Miele, Associate Director of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, for facilitating the workshop.

“Blind people are makers. We can do things like soldering and building robots and woodworking,” says Dr. Miele. “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.”

Here are a few lovely shots from the workshop, by photographer Erin Conger:

The workshop was held in LightHouse's Innovation Lab on the 11th floor. A close-up of the sign outside the STEM lab in room 1145 reads “Innovation Lab Sponsored by Toyota”. A large window reveals a few students hard at work inside the lab.
The workshop was held in LightHouse’s Innovation Lab on the 11th floor. A close-up of the sign outside the STEM lab in room 1145 reads “Innovation Lab Sponsored by Toyota”. A large window reveals a few students hard at work inside the lab.
A diverse array of students, instructors, and volunteers are hard at work in the LightHouse’s Innovation Lab. A Be My Eyes poster stands out in the background as an indicator of the space’s many uses.
A diverse array of students, instructors, and volunteers are hard at work in the LightHouse’s Innovation Lab. A Be My Eyes poster stands out in the background as an indicator of the space’s many uses, including as a home base for two accessibility start-ups.
Baskets hold some of the essential components for making continuity testers: stainless steel forceps, insulated handle-wire strippers, wire cutters, wrenches, and Phillips-Head screwdrivers. A few spools of insulated wire — also essential — sit to the left.
Baskets hold some of the essential components for making continuity testers: stainless steel forceps, insulated handle-wire strippers, wire cutters, wrenches, and Phillips-Head screwdrivers. A few spools of insulated wire — also essential — sit to the left.
Red, green, black and white insulated wire spools sit on a table. Color indicators help sighted individuals distinguish between wires, while vision impaired students use a system of knots to differentiate between them.
Red, green, black and white insulated wire spools sit on a table. Color indicators help sighted individuals distinguish between wires, while vision impaired students use a system of knots to differentiate between them.
A close up of a student’s hand resting on the table near a soldering iron set in its station. A soldering iron is a handheld tool with an insulated handle and heated metal tip used to melt solder.
A close up of a student’s hand resting on the table near a soldering iron set in its station. A soldering iron is a handheld tool with an insulated handle and heated metal tip used to melt solder.
A group of 13 students, instructors, and volunteers are hard at work around the long central table in LightHouse’s Innovation Lab.
A group of 13 students, instructors, and volunteers are hard at work around the long central table in LightHouse’s Innovation Lab.
Six students and volunteers sit around two tables, hard at work. The grey work surface is scattered with castaway bits of wire and solder. The lab’s large windows offer a view of neighboring grey buildings.
Six students and volunteers sit around two tables, hard at work. The grey work surface is scattered with castaway bits of wire and solder. The lab’s large windows offer a view of neighboring grey buildings.
A student’s fingers slide down the length of a pair of stainless steel forceps to find the point of contact on the circuit board. This technique helps students who are blind create landmarks for soldering throughout the process.
A student’s fingers slide down the length of a pair of stainless steel forceps to find the point of contact on the circuit board. This technique helps students who are blind create landmarks for soldering throughout the process.
A curl of smoke rises from the tip of a hot soldering iron as a student melts points of solder onto his circuit board.
A curl of smoke rises from the tip of a hot soldering iron as a student melts points of solder onto his circuit board.
A female soldering student wearing reflective sunglasses and a colorful headband leans over her work station, deep in a concentration. A steel vice is used to steady a yellow circuit board for ease of work while soldering.
A female soldering student wearing reflective sunglasses and a colorful headband leans over her work station, deep in concentration. A steel vice is used to steady a yellow circuit board for ease of work while soldering.
Workshop facilitator Dr. Joshua Miele of the Smith-Kettlewell Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Low Vision and Blindness oversees the work of a male soldering student.
Workshop facilitator Dr. Joshua Miele of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute oversees the work of a male soldering student.
A man in a grey shirt and suspenders clasps a yellow circuit board. Behind him, the student with the tawny shirt is hard at working with his soldering iron in hand. A smattering of tools are sprawled across the table next to a folded cane.
A man in a grey shirt and suspenders clasps a yellow circuit board. Behind him, a student in a  tawny shirt is holding a soldering iron in hand. A smattering of tools are sprawled across the table next to a folded cane.
Clasping a pair of yellow wire-strippers, a female student in a teal shirt uses the instrument’s notched jaws to remove the insulation from a section of yellow wire. Her other tools are scattered on the table in front of her. Other students are hard at work in the background.
Clasping a pair of yellow wire-strippers, a female student in a teal shirt uses the instrument’s notched jaws to remove the insulation from a section of yellow wire. Her other tools are scattered on the table in front of her.
Two older male students collaborate at a busy soldering station.
Two older male students collaborate at a busy soldering station.
A middle-aged blonde male bends over his workstation.
A middle-aged blonde male student bends over his workstation.
A grey-haired student in a black polo shirt glides his hands over the notches on his circuit board.
A grey-haired student in a black polo shirt glides his hands over the notches on his circuit board.
A man with long gray hair and a purple shirt sits facing away at one of the high top work surfaces in the Innovation Lab. His glossy black guide dog is on the floor at his feet, staring directly into the camera.
A man with long gray hair and a purple shirt sits facing away at one of the high top work surfaces in the Innovation Lab. His glossy black guide dog is on the floor at his feet, staring directly into the camera.
A smiling grey-haired male student wearing a black hoodie and a white button-up sits at the table grasping a completed continuity tester.
A smiling grey-haired male student wearing a black hoodie and a white button-up sits at the table grasping a completed continuity tester.

The LightHouse’s Innovation Lab will continue to offer workshops in STEM fields, so stay tuned. It is part of our mission to strengthen the representation of people who are blind or have low vision in the tech industry and other STEM fields.

For more information about future workshops visit the LightHouse Calendar or contact Director of Community Services Lisamaria Martinez via email at lmartinez@lighthouse-sf.org or by phone at 415.694.7350.