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Posts Tagged ‘Technology’
Congratulations LightHouse Employment Immersion Client Lily Esteban, Hired by Diversified Mortgage GroupMay 2, 2013
Lily Wang Esteban grew up in China and Hong Kong and moved to Hawaii at age 17. She finished high school and studied Business Administration and Gerontology at the University of Hawaii before marrying and starting a family. In her 20’s she began working for a bank, and for the next 35 years, which included a move to San Francisco in 1983, she dedicated herself to her work as a mortgage loan officer.
Then everything stopped. It began when she started having trouble reading street signs. “One evening in September 2007, while I was in the car with my husband, I asked him why they had put Christmas lights up so early; I said ‘Look they’re all over the place’. He didn’t know what I was talking about.” Lily realized that what she was seeing was the blurred lights of streetlamps, appearing like holiday lights. She went to see an ophthalmologist who diagnosed her with myopic degeneration and told her it was unlikely she would gain much vision back.
It became harder and harder for her to see, and Lily finally gave up the career she had built for four decades. She was the primary breadwinner in the family and as their finances became more precarious, she became more and more depressed. That’s when her sister encouraged her to come to LightHouse.
She went, and it changed her life.
At first Lily enrolled in the LightHouse’s Changing Vision class where she learned an array of tricks, tools and resources for the visually impaired. A LightHouse social worker connected her with the Department of Rehabilitation counselor John Grote, who introduced her to adaptive equipment such as a CCTV to enlarge printed material and a computer with ZoomText software. “The world began opening up again, and this meant that maybe I could get back to work and improve our financial situation. I enrolled in the LightHouse’s Employment Immersion Program. But I was sure I couldn’t do loans anymore – that I would have to do more simple office work such as answering phones.
“Kate Williams encouraged me not to settle, and to reach up to my dream. Kate is very inspiring – I thought I was too old to change but I look at her, she is also older and low vision. And there were other people in the class my age. I’m actually glad I lost my vision – it led me to a place where I have a brand new perspective on aging. Why be limited? You’re only as old as you feel. Kate showed me how to write a resume, how to put a cover letter together and how to present myself in an interview. But what she really did was teach me how to sell myself to employers while not selling myself short!”
After graduating from the Employment Immersion class, Lily learned that new government regulations required her to be licensed in order to work as a loan officer. Eager to return to the job scene, and with the help of her new adaptive equipment, she crammed several months’ worth of study into an accelerated online course. “I never studied so hard in my life – I finished in two weeks and then took both the state and federal exams in the same day. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do both in one day, but I was impatient. Fortunately I passed the exams and got my license.”
With license in hand, Lily was hired as a loan officer in November 2012 by Diversified Mortgage Group in Fremont, California. She went through a seven-week training and has just begun closing loans. She’s thrilled and says, “If you are interested in going back to work, I strongly encourage you to take the Employment Immersion class. You’ll learn so much about yourself and your capabilities. Kate will point out what you’re really good at, give encouragement and show you how to open doors. Then you just need to get in there and prove you can do it.”
Is it time for you to re-enter the job market? Follow Lily’s lead and join us for the next session of the 2013 Employment Immersion Program which begins Tuesday, May 28 at the LightHouse’s office at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. For more information, call Kate Williams at 415-694-7324 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talking BART maps? Yes, talking BART maps. The technology to produce BART maps that audibly describe BART stations is just around the corner and the LightHouse is helping to make this happen.
The LightHouse, working with Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, has produced a prototype for the first-ever talking maps that will enable blind or visually impaired people to handily navigate BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) subway stations. Three of the stations are completed, with the other 41 stations on this BART’s 104-mile subway line soon to follow. Muni Metro underground stations are next on the agenda, and the principal designers – who themselves are blind – envision someday bringing similar innovative devices to many sites across the nation and globe.
The talking maps concept was applied to BART by LightHouse staff and Joshua Miele, a scientist at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco. Miele directs technology research and development at Smith-Kettlewell.
“I dreamed of doing this for years,” Miele says. “A blind person at an unfamiliar station doesn’t know to head left or right, how to find a ticket kiosk, where to go up onto the street to hop on a bus. You needed to budget time for getting lost, asking strangers for assistance, or both. Well, my solution was making maps talk. The key to that was the arrival of the Smartpen.”
Miele solved the BART map problem by adapting the capability of a Livescribe Smartpen. The new LightHouse produced flip books with tactile graphics have pages with raised symbols – easily detected with a fingertip – that indicate staircases and escalators, bathrooms and exits, and brief Braille captions. The paper also has a subtle, swirling matrix of printed dots. When a user sweeps a map page with a Smartpen (basically, a slim computer with a tiny camera that can read that pattern) a richly detailed audio commentary on each location, including all nearby landscape features and assets, will pour into the user’s ear.
Miele blended the technologies that resulted in the map project, but to actually create the maps, he relies on staff at the LightHouse. “They’ve been the lynchpin of this whole project,” Miele says. The LightHouse has a Braille production facility at its headquarters office, where the Access to Information Services team will produce and distribute the maps.
To make talking BART maps a reality, considerable information had to be gathered. Each station required a detailed study to decide what features to represent. LightHouse Board member Chris Downey, a blind architect, called in colleagues from major architectural firms, like HOK and Gensler, and other members of the AIA (American Institute of Architects) to help. Volunteer teams fanned out across the subway system. Downey says necessary data not only streamed into the LightHouse, but flowed back in the other direction. Participating architects grew much more cognizant of how blind and disabled people experience space – which can influence and improve their future designs.
“It’s the first time a project like this has been accomplished anywhere,” says Miele. “But it won’t be the last. This sort of tool can be used everywhere, airports, bus and train stations, malls, schools, libraries, national parks, even your governor’s office.”
It is estimated that the first talking BART maps will get into riders’ hands by Fall 2013. For more information, please contact Greg Kehret, Director of Access to Information Services, at 415-694-7349 or email@example.com.
Are you looking for something to spice up your summer plans? If so, NFB STEM-X, the latest National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS) program, is just what you’ve been waiting for! This inquiry-based science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program will provide participants with learning opportunities in STEM disciplines ranging from engineering and robotics to the science of cooking.
If you have attended or heard about previous NCBYS programs, like NFB Youth Slam or NFB Project Innovation, you are familiar with the exciting opportunities such programs provide. So, follow the link below and apply today! And don’t forget to tell your friends to do the same! Applications close at 11:50 p.m. on May 15, 2013.
To learn more, or to apply please visit www.blindscience.org/STEMX.
Questions about the program can be directed to Natalie Shaheen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For several months now the LightHouse has been hosting a monthly class on iOS apps called “I Think Therefore I App.” This session is an informal and informative way to learn about interesting apps for daily use, from exercise apps to apps that can help keep your life on track.
Join us for “I Think Therefore I App” every second Thursday of the month from 10:00 until 11:30 a.m. For more information or to RSVP for the class, please contact Molly Irish at 415-694-7320 or email@example.com.
Upcoming Class Dates:
- Thursday, April 11, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
- Thursday, May 9, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
- Thursday, June 6, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Want to get a jump start on living successfully with little or no vision? Would you like to meet students starting their journey like you? And do it in the world class Napa Wine Country? Apply now for one of the spaces available in the Lighthouse’s new immersion retreat at Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa.
The LightHouse presents a one week immersion retreat for adults new to low vision or blindness. Learn basic, yet essential daily living skills to live confidently. This retreat offers mentoring, peer participation and support in the splendid wine country setting of the LightHouse’s Enchanted Hills Retreat.
June 9 through 14
If you are a Department of Rehabilitation client or are over 55, you may be eligible for these classes free of charge. For more information or to sign up for any of our training classes, please contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357, or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://bit.ly/visionclass2013.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has a number of programs and services to directly assist blind veterans, including:
- Fast, easy access to services and resources
- A nationwide network of blind mentors
- Thirty scholarships for higher education offered annually, generally ranging from $3,000 to $12,000
- Eligibility for financial assistance to attend the convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando on July 1-6
- NFB-NEWSLINE®, the largest on-demand audio newspaper service in the world
- Free advice on finding the right assistive or mainstream technology to meet your needs
- Training and employment opportunities with the federal government
- Effective advocacy on issues important to blind veterans, including access to the military Space Available program
- The opportunity to join in advocacy and fellowship with like-minded blind veterans through the National Association of Blind Veterans, a division of the National Federation of the Blind (http://www.nabv.org)
- A positive philosophy of blindness emphasizing the normality of the blind and our ability to compete on terms of equality with our sighted peers
For more information on NFB programs for blind veterans, please contact Dr. Joanne Wilson by phone at (410) 659-9314, extension 2335, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Did you know that our Adaptations store offers 30 different digital magnifiers, some that can fit in your pocket?
The SmartLux Digital is ideal for anyone who is visually impaired and wants an economical, portable video magnifier. The SmartLux Digital features a generous depth of focus and includes a stand that, when placed in its fully extended position, is ideal for reading. When placed in its half-extended position, it is ideal for writing. The two small SMD-LEDs on the underside of the device can be switched off when viewing other backlit displays, such as cell phones, to avoid screen glare. The screen is hard-coated for protection and is made with an additional anti-glare layer of film.
- Display: 5 inch LCD TFT display with contrast ration 600:1
- Magnification: 5x, 7x, 9x, and 12x
- Color Modes: Full color, black on white, white on black, black on yellow, yellow black
- Weight: 7.8 oz.
- Dimensions: 3½ in W x 6½ in L x 1¼ in H
- Power: Rechargeable; power cord with attachments included
- Run Time: Operating time is 2½ hours
- Charging Time: 2 hours
- 2-year warranty
To purchase the SmartLux Digital or peruse our full inventory of magnifiers and other gadgets designed for the blind and visually impaired, contact Adaptations, the LightHouse Store at 1-888-400-8933 or visit our store online for more information.
The Paciello Group (TPG) is carrying out a mobile accessibility survey which will be available until the end of January 2013. The survey is a simple 15 question survey that takes just a few moments to complete. Input is being sought from people with disabilities or people using assistive technologies on a mobile device.
Mobile technology is a new and thriving frontier for accessibility. Seasoned accessibility professionals are anxious to help mobile developers deliver accessible experiences. More information is needed to understand both usage patterns and hardware/software platforms, to guide decisions to meet the needs of people with disabilities who use mobile devices.
This survey has been created in an effort to start gathering this data. Tabulated findings will be publicly available to help mobile authors and accessibility professionals better serve the mobile accessibility community. A few moments of your time today will help developers make better informed choices as we move forward.
Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is investigating experiences, both positive and negative, of users of Magic Jack, a provider of voice over Internet protocol (“VOIP”) phone services. In particular, DRA is interested in hearing about any problems that blind or low vision users who reside in California might have experienced regarding barriers when attempting to obtain customer service from Magic Jack.
If you are legally blind and use Magic Jack, especially if you have obtained or attempted to obtain customer assistance from Magic Jack, they would very much appreciate speaking with you. To share your experiences, please contact Michael Nunez by phone at 510-665-8644 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re offering a boatload of new classes, clubs and events! From support groups to free acupuncture sessions, you’re sure to find something to interest you.
Sign up now! For updated information about our classes, visit our online calendar.
All classes are offered at LightHouse San Francisco Headquarters unless otherwise noted.
New! LGBTQ Support Group
Second Saturday of every month beginning October 13, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.
This is a very special opportunity for LGBTQ individuals living with vision loss or blindness. This support group will be a safe and fun place to build community for LGBTQ visually impaired individuals, find new friends, support one another, have fun, increase self-esteem, and engage in your community. All ages welcome.
Group leader Rachel Longan is an MFT intern with 8 years of experience conducting support groups. She currently runs support groups at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA and is an intern at the Pacific Center (serving the LGBTQ community) in Berkeley. Recently she co-facilitated a support group for individuals coping with vision loss. As a visually impaired individual, Rachel works skillfully and empathically with the visually impaired community. Please RSVP to Rachel Longan at email@example.com or call John Liang at 415-694-7334.
New! The Family Circle – A New Family Support Group
Second Saturday of every month beginning October 13, from 10:00 a.m. to noon
Have you or your loved ones ever felt alone, abandoned, or at a loss in your journey to cope with blindness and vision loss? Have you ever wondered how other families address blindness and low vision as part of their daily lives? Do you have an interest in meeting other families whose lives have also been impacted by blindness and/or adventitious vision loss? If so, you and your family are cordially invited to join “The Family Circle,” a new family support group offered by SF LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired Community Services program.
“The Family Circle” offers an informal support group setting designed to provide a comfortable, safe, and non-judgmental place for all family members to openly discuss and share their own experiences and challenges in living with blindness and vision loss. Group sessions will provide an open forum for families to explore a wide variety of topics related to blindness and blindness-related issues, particularly as they pertain to daily living and family life. The primary goals of the “The Family Circle” are to help families seamlessly integrate blindness into daily living as a natural and non-inhibiting factor through strengthening family unity; creating meaningful and sustainable support systems, alliances and networks; sharing resources and best practices; enhancing communication skills; and developing and implementing effective coping strategies.
The group will meet on the second Saturday of October, November, and December 2012 from 10:00 a.m. to noon at LightHouse San Francisco Headquarters. Light snacks will be provided. At this time enrollment is open, yet limited to 4 families. The group will be facilitated by Lynda Johnson, MFT. To RSVP, please contact Lynda at 650-504-1650.
New! Youth Support Group
Mondays beginning October 8, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.
Find support from people your age at the LightHouse. Are you a blind or low vision teen struggling with important life questions and/or concerns, but feel you have no one to turn to? Do you find yourself at a loss or overwhelmed in adjusting to and coping with the many emotional and social challenges that often accompany life as a blind or low vision teen? Would you like to connect with and support other blind and low vision teens who are also confronted with similar struggles and challenges?
If so, then come and check out the new teen support group happening at LightHouse San Francisco Headquarters. Blind and low vision teens between the ages of 12 to 17-years-old are invited to share their experiences as well as discuss ideas and strategies on how to best overcome these unique challenges while getting the most out of life. The purpose of this group is to provide a safe and confidential environment where teens can come together to support and encourage one another, problem solve, and obtain valuable advice. Topics for group discussion will center on relevant issues that are both important and meaningful to each participant.
This exciting new group will be led by Courtney Mazzola, a young, blind professional. In addition to being an experienced counselor in the San Francisco Bay Area, Courtney is an accomplished martial artist, horseback rider, adventurer, and world traveler. More importantly, Courtney offers practical and meaningful advice for any teen trying to find their way—and identity—in an otherwise complicated and oftentimes confusing world.
If you or someone you know is interested in attending this dynamic support group exclusively for blind and low vision teens, please RSVP to Courtney Mazzola by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Director of Community Services John Liang at email@example.com.
New! Free Acupuncture Treatments with Joyce Wu, LAC.
Dr. Wu offers free acupuncture treatments to blind and low vision clients every Friday from 9:00 a.m. through 1:00 p.m. at LightHouse San Francisco Headquarters.
Joyce Wu practices traditional Chinese medical arts, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, and diet therapy. Joyce has been involved with Chinese medicine for over ten years. Her clinical experience covers many types of acute and chronic illnesses, and her philosophy of treatment is to strengthen the whole person.
A $5 donation is suggested; however no one will be turned away due to lack of funds. Appointments are by reservation only. To RSVP please contact: Joyce Wu, L.Ac. Lic.# AC14078 at 415-810-3217 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about Dr. Wu at www.joyceacupuncture.com.
New! Healthier Living: Managing Ongoing Health Conditions
Every Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for six weeks. To RSVP please contact Molly Irish at 415-694-7320 or email@example.com.
Sign up now and take control of your health! This is a program developed by Stanford University School of Medicine and co-sponsored by LightHouse for the Blind, Department of Adult and Aging Services, City College of San Francisco and 30th Street Senior Center.
Chronic diseases—such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cancer, and diabetes—are among the most prevalent, costly, and preventable of all health problems. Many people who suffer from multiple chronic conditions feel they lack the skills to manage their own health.
The Healthier Living: Managing Ongoing Health Conditions program encourages participants to maintain and adapt practical coping strategies. The program focuses on providing mutual support to the participants thus building their confidence in their ability to manage their health and thus maintain active lives. After completing the workshops participants demonstrate significant improvements in their self-reported general health, in aspects such as improved attitude and gained skills.
Healthier Living includes a series of 2½ hour workshops presented over a 6-week period by two trained leaders, one or both of whom are non-health professional with a chronic disease themselves. The curriculum includes workshops and appropriate behavior modifications and coping strategies to enable the participants to manage their chronic diseases and medications and increase physical activity levels.
More Community Service Offerings!
Please check out our LightHouse Calendar for more information on new clubs, classes and events in October, including:
- Blind Brewers Club
- LH Blind Backpackers Club
- LH Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Youth Group
- LH Outdoor Adventurers Club
- LH Blind Poets Society
- Chair Massage
- Field Trip to Anchor Steam Brewery
- Halloween Party
- Art Slam
- LH Writer’s Guild
- LH Philosophers Club
- LH Fishing Club
- Beanies for Babies Volunteer Knitters
- LH Volunteer Corps