Tag Archives: low vision

See Your Designs Through Someone Else’s Eyes: A New Virtual Reality Experience

On May 18th, LightHouse for the Blind presents Eyeware, So You Can See Your Designs Through Someone Else’s Eyes

“Looking through the eyes” of another is a nice empathetic metaphor, but it can quite literally be a valuable exercise. Next month, a mini-conference at LightHouse for the Blind in San Francisco spotlights a new real-time, immersive ocular simulation that allows individuals to experience how people with low vision, color blindness or a variety of eye conditions navigate built environments.

LightHouse invites architects, developers, educators, designers and anyone who strives to build accessible environments – including transport systems, urban spaces, buildings, automotive design, interiors, software interfaces and prototyping – to explore a new opportunity in inclusive design: Join us to try on Eyeware.

On May 18, we’re inviting designers and planners to move beyond metaphors and look at the world a little differently. For years, vision professionals have simulated various eye conditions through goggles, plastic filters and other low tech solutions. Here, users are invited to try on a more efficient solution. The first demonstration of its kind, Eyeware will demo new virtual and augmented reality technology developed by Theia Immersive Systems that allows designers and consumers to step into a real-time simulation of someone else’s eyesight.

LightHouse welcomes Theia in their first North American presentation and workshop at 1155 Market St. (10th Floor) in San Francisco. Co-presented by Yahoo and welcoming a host of other companies dedicated to universal design, this event will take place in two sessions, with one morning presentation geared toward physical space, and an afternoon session focused on interface design. All are invited to a complimentary lunchtime event with two active simulation rooms. The event will likely sell out, so RSVP now.

More about the Eyeware App

Utilizing a robust set of proprietary visual filters (“like Instagram for your eyeballs”), Theia Immersive Systems’ Eyeware App is the gateway to a software suite that allows design professionals to see the world with a variety of eye conditions including color blindness, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and even certain rare conditions that cumulatively affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Eyeware can be used with a cardboard or custom headset to deliver a combination VR + AR experience, giving anyone with so-called “normal” vision a new level of insight. The Eyeware filters, when applied, give designers additional tools to audit, manipulate and run wayfinding routes in both preexisting and newly rendered environments. Theia’s design tools can be deployed anywhere in the design process to facilitate collaboration, design review and visual accessibility for professionals, clients and users both sighted and blind – moving designers beyond simple notions of brightness and contrast into nuanced aesthetic palettes that work for all types of vision. The Eyeware App, available now for iOS and Android, sets the stage for a comprehensive design suite from Theia, now in Beta.

Why would I want to experience a Visual Impairment?

From the subtle, gauzy effects of cataracts to the more dramatic challenges of tunnel vision or retinopathy, changes in vision are incredibly hard to convey in words, photographs or standard-ratio video. Fully sighted designers can guess, but rarely know exactly how to optimize their products for low vision.

Developed by the UK Transport Systems Catapult’s spinoff – now called Theia Immersive Systems – to tackle the challenges of public transit, the new virtual and augmented reality software will join the toolkit of accessibility best practices observed by agencies such as the LightHouse and Arch4Blind in communicating the nuances of various eye conditions and their implications for design. With Theia’s tools, the designer now has a direct connection to the experience of a variety of clients and users.

From testing out physical interfaces for low lighting conditions, to evaluating for effective color contrast in side-by-side comparison, to actually strapping on the gear and diving into your CAD model or environment design, these tools give designers an edge on ensuring the project’s visual accessibility from the outset.

Try it for the first time

Join us at the LightHouse to hear Theia’s creators discuss concepts, applications and exciting emerging use cases, including integrations with 3D audio and force-feedback synthetic touch. There will be ample time to try out the technology in custom simulations generated specifically for the LightHouse facility.

The Theia and LightHouse teams will also be available for meetings to share more information about product rollout, support and partnerships for maximizing the potential of these exciting new tools.

RSVP for the event on Eventbrite. Trouble with Eventbrite? Email dbrown@lighthouse-sf.org.

Thursday, May 18: Full Day Schedule

10 a.m.
Theia Immersive Systems – Presentation
“Ocular Simulations for Interior and Exterior Environments”
Fee: $10 (includes cost of VR cardboard)

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
VR + AR Activations
Free to attend
Experience Theia’s ocular simulations over a variety of environments and interfaces in LightHouse’s custom-outfitted simulation rooms.

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Complimentary Lunch

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Theia Immersive Systems – presentation
“Ocular Simulations for Physical and Digital Interfaces”
Fee: $10 (includes cost of VR cardboard)

2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.
VR + AR Activations
Free to attend
Experience Theia’s ocular simulations over a variety of environments and interfaces in LightHouse’s custom-outfitted simulation rooms.

New Cooking Classes at the LightHouse — from Knife Skills to Measuring and Mixing

It’s 2017 and we’ve cooked up a whole host of new culinary classes at the LightHouse for the new year.

Learn more about each session below and see a schedule of our upcoming classes. If you have questions about class content please contact Sydney Ferrario, Instructor, at 415-694-7612 or sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org.

Orientation to the Kitchen 

Designed for beginning home cooks and those new to blindness or low vision.

Session I – January 3 and 5

Session II – February 7 and 9

Session III – March 7 and 9

Each session takes place on Tuesday and Thursday of the scheduled week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Designed specifically for people who have been out of the kitchen due to a change of vision and need a fresh start to feel comfortable in the kitchen and begin cooking – this class will help you get back in the kitchen with confidence!  In these classes, students will learn new ways of labeling, organization, safe work strategies and so much more! Included is a brief technology component and demonstration for recipe access.

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

  • Safer work strategies
  • Greater awareness of tactile, auditory, olfactory and gustatory skills
  • Organization and labeling in the pantry and refrigerator
  • Develop sensory and spatial awareness
  • Discover and explore various tools and technologies
  • Effective and Efficient cleaning

What’s the Scoop? Measure and Mix

Designed for beginning and intermediate home cooks and those new to blindness or low vision.

Session I – January  10 and 12

Session II – February 14 and 16

Session III – March 14 and 16

Each session takes place on Tuesday and Thursday of the scheduled week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Learn and practice measuring with confidence!  In the Lighthouse teaching kitchen we will explore techniques for measuring both liquids and dry ingredients in both large and small quantities. While all are welcome, this course is especially designed with the baker in mind, and 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

On The Edge – Knife Skills

Designed for beginning and intermediate home cooks and those new to blindness or low vision.

Session I  – January  17 and 19

Session II  – February 21 and 23

Session III –  March  21 and 23

Each session takes place on Tuesday and Thursday of the scheduled week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

With an emphasis on safety and organizational work strategies, students learn and practice knife skills on a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Are you planning to eat healthier after the holidays?  Sharpen your knife skills and practice techniques for even sizes while protecting your fingers!  Tuesday we prep everything for a soup and salad and on Thursday we will throw it all together for a nourishing and healthy meal.

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

  • Holding and manipulating various knives, graters and other sharp gadgets
  • Hands-on guidance and practice mincing, slicing, dicing, chopping, and peeling, among others
  • Deciding which tool is best for the job and why
  • Safer work strategies, building on tactile and sensory awareness

Great cooking is not about recipes – it’s about skill and technique!

There are three sessions of the same course, each with a different menu to be determined based on seasonal availability.  Students may wish to enroll in any one session or all three.

The Heat Is On! Oven and Stovetop Strategies

Designed for beginning and intermediate home cooks who wish to gain a greater comfort level working with their gas or electric ovens and ranges.

Session I  – January  24 and 26

Session II  – February 28 and March 2

Session III –  March  28 and 30

Each session takes place on Tuesday and Thursday of the scheduled week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Cook on your home oven and stovetop with ease and safety.  Learn and practice strategies for setting up and cooking with the oven and stovetop which includes spatial awareness skills, setting up with the proper equipment and creating new habits.

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

  • Safer work strategies and Injury prevention
  • Systems, patterns, portioning and spatial awareness
  • Heat control, thermometers, timers, testing for done
  • Sautéing, stirring and turning
  • Using assistive technology

All classes are  $220.00* per session  and meet in Room 1010 in 10th Floor Kitchen of the LightHouse Headquarters at 1155 Market Street.  Class is 4 hours with a short break. Bring a bag lunch the first day. You will be standing, cooking and working for most of the class. Please wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes and have long hair tied back.

*Each Class Session includes two classes for four hours (9:30-1:30).  The full class fee is $220 for persons 18-54.  For those persons who are 55 and older living in the counties of Alameda, San Francisco and Marin (and not a consumer with the Department of Rehabilitation or VA) the class fee is waived thanks to the State of CA Older Individuals Who are Blind (OIB) grant funding.  Student may be asked to bring in class materials, the instructor will notify if this is necessary.

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.

As a division of the Independent Living Skills Program, culinary classes provide cooking lessons for the home cook with an emphasis on blind kitchen skills, including, but not limited to, orientation, organization, knife skills, measuring, food safety, and navigating the oven and stove top safely. Also included is a recipe access component for interpreting and replacing visual cooking terminology with cues for taste, touch and smell. The goal is to provide guided practice so students can replicate skills at home.

Note about ingredients: LightHouse recipes use common cooking and baking ingredients including various fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, spices, dairy, eggs, wheat flours, etc. If you have a food allergy, please check with the instructor before attending the class. Adjustments to recipes cannot be made during class.

Special Dietary Needs?  For those with special dietary needs or allergies, please contact Sydney Ferrario at 415-694-7612 to discuss how we can help you with a customized program and recipes. Her background includes Wheat, Gluten, & Dairy-Free cooking and cooking for those with Diabetes.

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.

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.

Know Someone With Changing Vision? Our Next Immersion Training Sessions are Coming Up

Photo: Class Picture of the September CVCL Immersion Training Session 2 Class

Fall is a time for harvest and abundance. Over the past four years, 250 students have harvested their skills and received an abundance of support, opportunities to connect and a rich introduction to skills ranging from accessing print, learning about technology to organizing their households and traveling independently.

Holli Clark of Santa Cruz County has participated in both sessions and had this to say about her experience:

“Just a note to share my big thanks for the wonderful Immersion experience! One of my big reasons for wanting to go for Immersion training was because I just didn’t know what I didn’t know. I figured there were better ways of doing things than I had made up over the years. I was certainly correct in that, and am delighted to be learning many new skills. This translates to being more productive, efficient, confident, independent and safer. [The] week was packed with immeasurable value. I learned so much from each trainer and really appreciated your focus on scheduling us according to individual needs…Your staff are both exceptional trainers in their fields as well as wonderful, caring people.”

Sydney and Holli

Photo: Cooking Instructor Sydney Ferrario and CVCL student Holli Clark stand together in the Betty Ruhland Teaching Kitchen at the LightHouse

 We’re offering one last CVCL session before year’s end, and another in February. Details on both follow:

December Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) Immersion Training Session 2
This session is facilitated from the new LightHouse Building in the heart of San Francisco.  The focus of this week’s training is “boots hit the ground in training”. Students participating in this week must have already received basic skills training in orientation and mobility, access technology or independent living and must be committed to focusing intently in all three of these skill areas in a small group and individual learning environment. (Please note: students do not need to have attended a previous CVCL session to attend CVCL 2 in San Francisco.)

This five day session is designed for students who are committed to full days of instruction, homework and practice in the evening and will take full advantage of the professional training time, mentoring and peer support and self-study that will be available.

Students will participate in a minimum of three of the following areas:

  1. Access Technology, including:
  • Computer training (Mac or PC) – using the software you are currently learning
  • Smart Phone Training – Apple or Android
  • Tablet Training – Apple or Android
  1. Orientation and Mobility Training 1:1
  2. Introduction to Braille
  3. Smart Cooking for Independence
  4. Low Vision Training – Using your Tools to Your Benefit
  5. Independent living skills

When: CVCL 2 will run from Monday, December 5th (arrival at 9:30 a.m. – training starts at 10:00 a.m.) through Friday, December 9 (leave at 11:00 a.m.)

Where: The session will be held in our headquarters building at 1155 Market St., 10th Floor in San Francisco. Participants will stay overnight throughout the week in our Student Residences.

Cost: There is a $1,300 fee for this training but you may qualify for partial or full scholarship if you are not already working with the Department of Rehabilitation or the Veterans Administration. It is highly recommended that all students have a solution for taking notes, such as the Victor Reader Stream (training will be provided in how to use this recording device)

***

February Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion Training Session 1
This session is held at Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa and is specifically geared for students new to blindness and low vision. For five days, up to 14 adult students have the opportunity to develop basic skills in a range of areas – access technology; orientation and mobility; organization and labeling; magnification and lighting; cooking; braille and community, state and national resources.

The week is full, active, emotional and supportive and students are given the opportunity to meet others, to harvest their own skills and determine the direction of the quality of their lives. There are three scholarship openings for persons 55 and better living in Humboldt, Del Norte, San Francisco, Marin or Alameda County who are not consumers of the Department of Rehabilitation or the VA. For those who are consumers of the Department of Rehabilitation, we encourage you to discuss this opportunity with your counselor.

When: CVCL I will run from February 6th – 10th.

Where: The session will be held in at Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa. Participants will stay overnight throughout the week in our lakeside lodgings. Transportation is available from San Francisco, Berkeley and Marin County.

Cost: There is a $1,300 fee for this training but you may qualify for partial or full scholarship if you are not already working with the Department of Rehabilitation or the Veterans Administration.

***

For More Information, to Register for Session 1 or Session 2, or if you have questions, please contact Debbie Bacon at dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7357 in San Francisco; Jeff Carlson at jcarlson@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-258-8496 in Marin County or Janet Pomerantz at jpomerantz@lighthouse-sf.org or 707-268-5646 in Humboldt County.

 

Major LightHouse for the Blind Expansion to Serve the Blind and Visually Impaired of the East Bay

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Bryan Bashin, CEO
510.725.1549
bbashin@lighthouse-sf.org

Scott Blanks, Sr. Director, Programs
510.499.2362
sblanks@lighthouse-sf.org

(SAN FRANCISCO, CA) LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Northern California’s oldest and largest nonprofit serving the blind, today announced a major initiative to aid hundreds of East Bay blind and visually impaired students affected by the scheduled closure of the Oakland Lions Center for the Blind.

“This week we’re signing a long-term lease to quadruple the size of our Alameda County office, effective August 31, 2016, the announced date of the Lions Center closure” said LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin. Throughout its 114-year history the LightHouse, though headquartered in San Francisco, has served students mostly from the nine-county Bay Area outside of San Francisco proper. Recognizing the unmet needs in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, the LightHouse first opened a satellite office at Berkeley’s Ed Roberts Campus in 2011, providing employment, tech skills and mobility training. In 2014 the California Department of Rehabilitation awarded the LightHouse a key contract to serve older blind adults in Alameda County. Today’s announced expansion will allow the organization to support up to 30 teachers for working-age blind and visually impaired people in Alameda County, where most LightHouse students live.

The new Ed Roberts Campus training facility will complement the greatly expanded teaching capacity of LightHouse’s new 40,000 square-foot Market Street headquarters in San Francisco, opened just three months ago. The Ed Roberts Campus, built directly on top of Berkeley’s Ashby BART station, houses a renowned group of disability organizations in a safe and transit-friendly location. Nearly a dozen progressive disability organizations have discovered that the Ed Roberts campus is an ideal place to gather people with disabilities, and their friends and family.

Shortly after the Lions Center closes, the expanded LightHouse staff will take up the slack by teaching braille, adaptive computer skills, personal and home management, how to find employment and Orientation and Mobility to hundreds of students throughout the east bay.

“While we’re sorry the chaos around the Lions Center closure has affected several hundred blind students in the east bay,” Bashin said, “the new extra capacity of the LightHouse and its 100+ employees will provide them services and to fulfill our organization’s core mission to train and empower all of the region’s visually-impaired residents.

The LightHouse has chosen to announce its new expanded Berkeley office in advance of the Lions publicized closure to allow time for current Lions students to plan for a seamless continuation of their studies in September. Displaced blind students, rehabilitation counselors and concerned families can contact the LightHouse directly to arrange for uninterrupted training. Former students of the Lions Center for the Blind are welcome to continue their studies at any LightHouse facility. To make arrangements please contact LightHouse Rehabilitation Counselor Debbie Bacon at 415.694.7357, or email her at dbacon@LightHouse-sf.org.

About the LightHouse
LightHouse for the Blind is one of the nation’s strongest organizations serving the blind. With six locations throughout northern California, the LightHouse now serves 3,000 people annually. A vital community of innovation, mentorship and community since 1902, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is the place where people who are blind or have low vision come to learn skills and gain confidence. LightHouse staff, senior management and Board of Directors are either blind themselves or have significant professional experience in the blindness field, a unique strength of the organization for decades. LightHouse Employment Immersion program participants earn a collective $2.5 million annually, the most successful blindness employment program in California.

Next Mind’s Eye Therapy Group Series Starting in September

PHOTO: Rachel Longan

LightHouse for the Blind’s Counseling and Psychological Services program is offering the next Mind’s Eye therapy group beginning September 7. This group is intended for individuals who are moving forward in their lives with recent changes in their vision.  Group facilitator, Rachel Longan, has thoughtfully designed Mind’s Eye for adults who are navigating this very personal journey.

When: Wednesday mornings, from September 7 through November 16, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Where: The new LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, 94103

Sudden or actively progressive vision changes can affect many aspects of a person’s life. Group participants are able to process their experiences in a safe and understanding setting.

Ms. Longan incorporates a variety of techniques and experiential exercises into each session. Some of the topics the group is covering include new challenges in relationships, social participation, and emotional factors commonly associated with adjusting to vision changes.

Please be aware that this is not a drop-in group – there is a registration process and a nominal fee for participating in this group. People who are interested in enrolling in the group are urged to contact Ms. Longan at 415-694-7302 or email her at rlongan@lighthouse-sf.org.

About the Therapist
Rachel Longan has over 10 years of experience conducting support groups in a variety of settings.  Rachel herself has low vision and has designed and facilitated the Mind’s Eye group specifically for individuals experiencing recent changes in their vision.

Ms. Longan has guest lectured at the International Conference on Costello Syndrome and at UC Berkeley.  She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, conducts a parent group for the City of Berkeley, and has a private psychotherapy practice also in Berkeley.

Changing Vision Changing Life II – A New Addition to Our Immersion Training

PHOTO: Cooking Instructor Sydney Ferrario preps food with students.

Are you ready to kick your skills up a notch? We’ve added a brand-new session to our Changing Vision Changing Life Series of small group trainings: The Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) II Immersion.

This motivating six-day overnight session is designed for students who may have participated in CVCL instruction in the past and are now focused on practicing the skills they’ve learned in a more intensive and structured manner.

Note: You don’t need to have attended a previous CVCL session to attend this one. However, you need to have had some basic training in Orientation and Mobility, independent living skills and/or access technology.

This session is great for students who are currently training in all of the areas above and can benefit from multiple days of one-on-one and small group instruction.

In this session, students will work on all of the following:

Access Technology, including

  • Computer training (Mac or PC) – using the software you are currently learning
  • Smart Phone Training – Apple or Android
  • Tablet Training – Apple or Android

Peer Group Support – Moving Forward
Advocacy – Taking Control
Orientation and Mobility Training 1:1
Introduction to Braille
Smart Cooking for Independence
Low Vision Training – Using your Tools to Your Benefit
Physical and Recreational Exploration to Enhance Mobility

When: This session will run from Sunday, September 18 (arrival at 3:30 p.m.) through Friday, September 23 (leave at 10:30 a.m.)

Where: The session will be held in our headquarters building at 1155 Market St., 10th Floor in San Francisco. Participants will stay overnight throughout the week in our Student Residences.

Cost: There is a $1300 fee for this training but you may qualify for partial or full scholarship if you are not already working with the Department of Rehabilitation or the Veterans Administration.

To find out if this session is the best fit for you please contact Debbie Bacon at dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-357.