Tag Archives: california

Guide Dog Users: Have Your Voice Heard on AB1705 Regarding the California Guide Dog Board

On April 25, the Business and Professions Committee will hear California Assembly Bill 1705 starting at 9:00 a.m. The hearing will determine whether to extend the term of the California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind to January 1, 2022. Under the existing bill, the board will sunset on January 1, 2018. This is an impactful decision that affects many members of the LightHouse community. Take a moment to gain some background on the bill and let your voice be heard in the outcome of this vote.  

The California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind was established in the 1940s, in response to an influx of people with insufficient skill, expertise or knowledge claiming to be guide dog trainers. The guide dogs they provided weren’t trained properly and, rather, were ineffective and dangerous to blind people. At that time, a state-mandated governing body for guide dogs was a necessary regulatory and safety measure.

Now, however, the usefulness of this Board is being called into question by numerous blindness organizations and prominent guide dog users, including California Council of the Blind.
California is the only state with a board of this kind, most likely because the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), established in 1989, serves a similar purpose. IGDF is the industry-elected body responsible for the development, monitoring and evaluation of guide dog training standards applied within all IGDF-member organizations.

In light of this body, many think having a state-mandated board is redundant and a misuse of state resources, as well as a drain on the time and resources of the California guide dog schools, all of whom are accredited by IGDF.

LightHouse Board Member Gena Harper, who has been a guide dog user for 35 years, is taking a firm stance on the matter.

“As a blind person, the presence of the board is frustrating,” she says. “It is patronizing that the state feels the need to have a protective body over guide dogs for the blind, especially when that body doesn’t actually do anything to provide the protections it claims.”

If you are a guide dog user who has traveled to or from the state of California or spent time in that state, and/or if you anticipate traveling with your guide dog to California, we urge you to let your voice be heard on this matter. Contact the Legislative Committee described below to express your view on extending the term of the State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind.

To have your voice heard, contact the committee members below and relay your stance on AB1705. Voting YES will extend the board’s term for four years, while voting NO will uphold the dismantling date of January 1, 2018.

Rudy Salas, Jr. (Chair) Dem – 32

assemblymember.salas@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 4016

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0032; (916) 319-2032

William P. Brough (Vice Chair) Rep – 73

assemblymember.brough@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 3141

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0073; (916) 319-2073

Dr. Joaquin Arambula Dem – 31

assemblymember.arambula@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 5155

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0031; (916) 319-2031

Catharine B. Baker        Rep – 16

assemblymember.Baker@assembly.ca.gov    

Capitol Office, Room 2130

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0016; (916) 319-2016

Richard Bloom   Dem – 50

assemblymember.Bloom@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 2003

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0050; (916) 319-2050

David Chiu        Dem – 17

assemblymember.chiu@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 4112

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0017; (916) 319-2017

Jordan Cunningham     Rep – 35

assemblymember.cunningham@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 4102

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0035; (916) 319-2035

Brian Dahle      Rep – 01  

assemblymember.dahle@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 4098

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0001; (916) 319-2001

Susan Talamantes Eggman        Dem – 13

assemblymember.eggman@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 4117

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0013; (916) 319-2013

Mike A. Gipson Dem – 64

assemblymember.gipson@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 3173

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0064; (916) 319-2064

Timothy S. Grayson      Dem – 14

assemblymember.grayson@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 4164

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0014; (916) 319-2014

Chris R. Holden Dem – 41

assemblymember.holden@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 5136

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0041; (916) 319-2041

Evan Low          Dem – 28

assemblymember.low@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 4126

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0028; (916) 319-2028

Kevin Mullin    Dem – 22

assemblymember.mullin@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 3160

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0022; (916) 319-2022

Marc Steinorth  Rep – 40

assemblymember.steinorth@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 5128

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0040; (916) 319-2040

Philip Y. Ting    Dem – 19

assemblymember.ting@assembly.ca.gov

Capitol Office, Room 6026

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0019; (916) 319-2019

 

See California Like Never Before: MAD Lab creates its largest low vision and tactile map yet

Photo: A close up shows the raised tactile features and brights blues and greens of this accessible map of California.

In the era of Google, reading a map can be deceptively simple. The 664 miles from say, Redding to San Diego, can seem like a simple calculation of hours, minutes, or transit stops – but truly understanding a place’s geography is not so straightforward. That’s why our state’s most reputable sources for accessible education tapped LightHouse to create a map worthy of the institution: encompassing the mountains, rivers, desert expanses and the varied, beautiful patterns of California.

Maps give us the bigger picture, show us how the earth unfolds and inform us how to traverse it – all opportunities blind people crave equally with their sighted peers. Unfortunately, most maps are not accessible. But after months of work, LightHouse’s MAD Lab is proud to present a three-foot large print, braille and tactile map of the entire state of California. It is their biggest tactile map yet.

Commissioned by the State Braille and Talking Book Library in Sacramento, the map will be part of a temporary display at the California State Capitol Building in January. It will later be moved to its permanent home at the Braille and Talking Book Library in Sacramento.

The map is 40 inches tall and 34 inches wide and was printed in six individual sections that make up the completed map. It was printed on the LightHouse’s new UV flatbed printer. High contrast coloration and large print facilitate viewing for people with low vision, and a selection of tactile symbols and fill textures denote cities, rivers, lakes, mountains, forests and deserts.

The whole map of California.
The whole map of California.

The state map went through many iterations in the design process, partially because the MAD Lab designers were met with the challenge of creating background fill textures for lakes and forests that, when touched, didn’t compete with symbols for specific landmarks.

“We had to figure out how to create varied textures, so you can tell there are different features, but also fade into the background enough so mountains and rivers could be felt on top as distinct landforms,” says Designer and Accessible Media Specialist Julie Sadlier.

By scaling down the size of the texture, Julie says they were able to achieve this. The first full draft of the map was printed in early December. The LightHouse’st Frank Welte was the first blind person to see the map after it was assembled.

A close-up shot demonstrates some of the fill textures Julie speaks of, like the circular green texture indicating a forest.
A close-up shot demonstrates some of the fill textures Julie speaks of, like the circular green texture indicating a forest.

“I’m a California Native, so I’ve seen some tactile maps of the state before but this one was probably the biggest tactile map of California I’ve ever seen,” says Frank. “It was fun to explore parts of California with which I’m not familiar, like the Northeastern part.”

And though exploring California is a perk, the overarching goal of the display is to raise awareness about the work of the Braille and Talking Book Library and its role in braille literacy and services for the blind and low vision community.

“One of the hardest things in the network of libraries serving the blind is getting the word out about our work,” says Director of the library Mike Marlin. “We provide a free service, so this display is a really helpful outreach tool. It gets our work in front of legislators and the public.”

Frank too, hopes the map encourages more institutions and organizations to make tactile maps and other material available to their communities.

“I think it is wonderful for tactile graphics to be given high visibility, so that the general public can appreciate their value as we in the blind community already do,” he says.

MAD Lab is an important resource in collaborating with organizations to make these kinds of accessible tactile tools available. The MAD Lab has earned a reputation for producing fabulous tactile media of all kinds, including raised line drawings, tactile graphics and tactile maps like this one for Alcatraz, and other GGRNA maps – for everything from Burning Man to BART.

For a rate sheet or an informal quote on a business project, contact MADLab@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7349.