This past weekend, we hosted one of the largest Youth Employment Series programs ever, with 23 blind and visually impaired youth from throughout the Bay Area and California. It was a packed couple of days, with students arriving on Friday evening and many staying in our guest residences until the weekend wrapped up on Sunday.
Starting Friday night, the students ventured out into San Francisco to visit this year’s Rainbow World Tree of Hope at San Francisco city hall and get in the holiday spirit. Saturday was a packed day of Construction and Maintenance Basics with Enchanted Hills Construction Manager George Wurtzel, who gave students a detailed run down of household tools from wrenches to screwdrivers to hammers, and how to use them. Many of the students got the thrill of building a piece of furniture for the first time. Later, students delved into hospitality and how to organize and host an event by decorating and preparing food for our YES Mentor Appreciation Dinner, covering the basics of food safety and handling.
Students also had opportunities to practice adaptive techniques, problem-solving skills, independent travel methods, literacy and organizational and household management, with time to socialize and reflect on some of the lessons about teamwork and self sufficiency learned throughout the day.
But it’s not all business: thanks to the fun-loving spirit of Youth Services Coordinator Jamey Gump, YES is full of fun, laughter and experimentation. This weekend, that included students trying their hands at Jamey’s family’s famous fudge recipe, with Jamila mixing in the Marshmallow fluff a little too soon and Andy making it clear that he would be the one licking the spoon when the time came. The students also had a good laugh at the several helium balloons that floated just out of reach while they were trying to prepare for the Mentor Appreciation Dinner. Check out photos from the weekend in the gallery below:
Each YES workshop offers an array of vocational, transitional and enrichment curricula empowering students to strive toward future employment, post-secondary educational success and full independence. The YES Program provides direct access to successful blind and low vision mentors and incorporates structured lessons in self-advocacy, adaptive technology, career exploration and daily living.
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 email@example.com 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.
Reid Davenport is an award-winning documentarian whose films focus on people with disabilities. Founder and co-director of Through My Lens, Davenport has been creating films and public speaking for five years. As a man with cerebral palsy, his hope is to inspire disabled students to share their personal stories, as he has done. “There is a tremendous space for amateur videos now on YouTube and social media and a few people with disabilities have already grasped that fact and taken back the narrative,” he says. “That’s what we want to encourage, take back and start to chip away at the misrepresentations of disability.”
On Beat follows Larry and Tanisha Cotton, a Deaf couple with three hearing children. The family uses music to bond and express themselves. Davenport and Zhang discovered the Cotton family with another story in mind, having heard about Uber’s efforts to hire Deaf drivers (Larry is a driver), but once he came across their gospel group, he knew he had a different story to tell.
Davenport and co-director Cheng Zhang collaborated by playing off each other’s strengths. Because “her strength was shooting,” and Davenport “was more involved in the interviewing,” they “balanced each other quite well.” Davenport also brought a disability aesthetic to the film, as he has in other projects as well, by “shying away from medicalization of the disability, trying not to make a portrait a pathological impairment, instead focusing on the social impact of being disabled.”
The main thing Davenport wants other filmmakers to know is that with the proliferation of social media comes a unique opportunity. “The authority over the audience that they have is unprecedented, so they need to tell their stories.” He urges them to embrace stories about disability and not shy away from it.
Watch the trailer to On Beat below and buy your tickets to catch it at Superfest today:
Fourteen months ago, LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin proposed a wild new idea: What if we create a prize to fund a blind person to do something ambitious? What if we fund their dreams ahead of time, to get them out in the world leading, creating, exploring and changing the face of blindness rather than simply rewarding them for past achievement?
After a rigorous application process including a social media competition, multiple rounds of judging and a detailed project proposal, we found our inaugural Holman Prizewinners, an unlikely trio from vastly different walks of life. The three winners, kayaker Ahmet Ustunel, baker Penny Melville-Brown and beekeeper Ojok Simon each have one-of-a-kind projects that allow them to build and foster social impact in their immediate community.
This week, we hosted the prizewinners in San Francisco for a full week of trainings, meetings, skill-sharing and fun before they commence their projects starting October 1. It was a busy week, but was more than we could have ever hoped for.
We started out the week by heading to One Market Restaurant, where Penny baked with some of San Francisco’s top pastry chefs, exchanging tips and tricks, learning new methods, and even teaching them a few non-visual techniques. We want to extend a huge thank you to Michael Dellar for opening the restaurant to us and extending himself to give the blindness community such a warm welcome in the food and hospitality world. Watch this video of Penny and Mac folding a peach galette together.
Penny is finishing out her American adventure with three more major cooking stops: China Live in San Francisco, Cheeseboard in Berkeley, and Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland. She’s planning lots of updates and videos, which will be coming out weekly starting next week at Baking Blind.
Ahmet Ustunel, who actually lives in the same bustling SF downtown as LightHouse headquarters, was more of a tour guide than visitor this week. He took us to Lowell High School, where he teaches, and gave his fellow prizewinners a tour. Not only did Ahmet introduce us to some of his blind students, but also let Ojok climb up onto the roof of Lowell’s garden shed to investigate the beehive there!
We’ll be honest: For a minute there, we were a little worried Ojok almost wasn’t going to make here from Uganda due to a passport snafu, but with a lot of faith and a little luck, we welcomed him with open arms on Wednesday afternoon. He wasted no time – and within 12 hours he was running along Ocean beach and talking bees with fellow blind beekeeper Aerial Gilbert.
On Thursday the Holman crew headed over to the Arkansas Friendship Garden on Connecticut Street in the SF hills, where the journalist and author Meredith May keeps an active colony of bees regularly producing honey. Within minutes, Ojok had his hands in the hives – with no gloves, we might add – gently manipulating all the little worker bees without being stung once. At the end of the afternoon, everyone even got to dig their hands into some honeycomb and taste the sweet stuff right out of the hive.
Ojok then produced a small jar of honey that he had brought with him from Uganda, and the group got to taste the difference between the fruity, nectar-like honey of San Francisco’s Italian bees and the smoky, meaty honey made by Ojok’s Africanized “killer” bees. Ojok will return to Uganda next week and begin expanding the Hive Uganda program, which already has 38 blind and low vision sighted beekeepers, to teach honey farming to dozens more over the course of the next year.
On Friday, Ahmet took us out on the water – which, as he’s told us many times, is “his favorite place in the world.” The prizewinners and some documentary filmmakers hopped on a few sailboats with blind sailor Walt Raineri and the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS), who took them all for a spin around McCovey Cove. Ahmet showed off some prototypes of the system he’ll use to autonomously navigate the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey next year, including directional and depth-sensing tools, all of which provide audible feedback. Learn more about his sonar technology from our livestream. As Ahmet’s project beings, you can follow him on Facebook and Instagram – and keep an eye out for him at your local waterway this fall while he trains for his big crossing, make sure to his page, he is the kind of guy that will buy instagram video views to motivate himself on social media!
If the live-streams, descriptions and photos weren’t enough, don’t worry: We had our cameras and microphones following along with the prizewinners all week long, and we’ll be soon bringing you scenes from the week.
This month we’re pleased to welcome Dr. Jill Lobingier, who is now providing regular eye exams and checkups for community members in our new in-house optometric clinic. These general health checkups are a great supplement to our low vision clinic, and we’re happy to provide all of our neighbors a convenient new option for eye care here in SF. You can´t forget that eye exams for kids are important, so make sure to take your child too.
The LightHouse Eye Center is a satellite clinic of the U.C. Berkeley School of Optometry located on the 10th Floor of the LightHouse Building in downtown San Francisco. The clinical staff includes a U.C. Berkeley School of Optometry graduate and residency trained doctors of optometry and senior optometry interns.
The clinic is located in our state-of-the-art building just adjacent to the Civic Center BART stop. With the same quality service and expertise found at UC Berkeley, the LightHouse Eye Center operates right in the heart of San Francisco, providing primary eye care such as glasses and contact lens prescriptions with thorough ocular health examinations as well as low vision services for the visually impaired. The eye clinic now serves both people with low vision and fully-sighted family members and friends, and anyone else interested in a regular optometric checkup.
With vision insurance, primary care eye exams typically cost between $10 and $20 copayment (Accepted providers include Blue Shield of California, Vision Service Plan, Eyemed, March Vision, Medi-Cal, Medicare). We do not have an optical center on site, but can order contact lenses and at the completion of your exam you will receive a copy of your prescription, which can be filled at your local optical retailer.
Dr. Jill Lobingier is originally from the Pacific Northwest. She received her bachelor’s degree in piano performance at Whitman College and then moved to Seattle to work as a certified optometric vision therapist. Dr. Lobingier graduated with honorsfrom University of California Berkeley School of Optometry in 2016. While in optometry school, Dr. Lobingier received the RobertGreer Smiling headshot of Dr. LobingierExcellence in Low Vision Award and the College of Optometrists in Vision Development Binocular Vision Award. Following graduation Dr. Lobingier completed a residency at the San Francisco VA Medical Center where she received extensive training in ocular disease and evidence-based medicine. With her diverse background, Dr. Lobingier enjoys seeing patients of all different ages and optometric needs.
Several naming opportunities are still available as part of our Campaign to Build a 21st Century LightHouse, a project that has enabled the LightHouse to grow our programs, serve more people and expand our impact. Thank you for being a part of it, and helping us provide transformative services for people who are blind or have low vision.
Every named room is marked by a permanent sign accessible in large print, braille and tactile lettering. These attractive signs are a distinctive hallmark of the new LightHouse and we’d be delighted to honor you, your family or friends with the opportunity.
The new LightHouse welcomes all who are blind or have low vision. From teens looking to meet other blind kids and do some fun weekend activities, to adults adjusting to changing vision and learning the skills they need to go back to work and everything else they want to do. A community of peers and mentors, the LightHouse is for blind people to gain skills, find support and grow. We have also invited hardwood floor installation seattle wa to build the room floors so it can be safe for the guests.
Contributions to the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse will provide tangible benefits for the blind kids, teens, adults and seniors that benefit from the joy and learning of the LightHouse for the next century. To learn more about the campaign, naming opportunities or how a gift from your estate can be used to name a space and leave an enduring legacy in you or a loved one’s honor, contact 415-694-7333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is our current list of naming opportunities:
Access Technology Demo Room
10th Floor Reception
Auditorium-Multi-Purpose Room (capacity 150)
Blindness Skills Training Area
Conference Room 925
Fitness Gym and Yoga Studio
Immersion Student Lounge
Living Room 11th Floor
Living Room-9th Floor
Thank you to our donors who have named rooms:
10th Floor: Herbst 10th Floor Reception and Community Learning Center
Art Room: Dove’s Nest Craft Studio
Board Room: Harold S. Dobbs Board Conference Room
Braille Room: Winifred Downing Braille Room
DPR Conference Toom 955
Enchanted Hills Office: Gena Harper and Mike May Enchanted Hills Camp and Retreat Office
Executive Suite: Michael and Leslye Dellar Executive Office
Finance Offices: US Bank Finance Suite
Ham Radio Room: Bill Gerrey, WA6NPC Amateur Radio Station
MADLab: Jerry Kuns and Theresa Postello MADLab
Pre-function Lounge: Susan O’Sullivan Room in memory of Audrey Baker
At Tribo51, we’re always dreaming up new recreational and educational programming to offer to our students — right now it’s yoga, qi gong, cooking classes, health workshops, guest speakers, bingo on these brand new bingo sites and even game nights.
In the coming year, we want to give the community a chance to weigh in on programs, so we’ve put together a survey to collect your input so we can continue to design fun and engaging programs that you’ll feel compelled to attend.
Fill out this two-question survey here or in the scroll box below by September 20th and be entered in a drawing to win a Chipotle gift certificate for lunch for two. We value your time and input!
In 2013, Alex Harding moved to the US from Sierra Leone, by himself, with only a $100 bill in his pocket.
Alex was young, but full of curiosity and a desire to learn and grow in the US job market. Still, as a person with low vision, Alex was at a disadvantage. As his vision changed, it became a struggle to show employers that he could work. In 2016, he signed up for the LightHouse’s Employment Immersion Program, and today he manages the facility of one of the web’s most popular skateboarding brands, Braille Skateboarding.
This is his story.
Braille Skateboarding is a tenant of LightHouse for the Blind at the Sirkin Center in San Leandro. We established a rental agreement with Braille Skateboarding because of their commitment to employ blind people like Alex.
If you’re blind, have low vision or have just experienced a change in vision and you want to gain the skills and confidence to jump back into the working world, we have a new four-week program just for you. To sign up, email Angela Denise Davis at email@example.com or contact your local Department of Rehabilitation counselor and ask to be enrolled.
Are you a teacher or educator working with blind and visually impaired students? Or maybe just a parent looking for tools to help your blind child do their homework? If so, the Adaptations Store has you covered for the school year ahead. Make sure to check acidadedosbarrios.org the best site to find all the educational info you need to complete any work assignments.
Just in time to head back to school, our Premier Kit for Teachers of Blind Students and scar cream is a newly-introduced, premium accessibility kit containing more than 20 hand-picked products you will find yourself reaching for again and again throughout the school year, in the same way you find yourself going back to the orogoldstores.com products over and over.
With the Premier Kit, you can:
Create markings and labels using a Dymo tape labeler, which comes with three rolls of clear, adhesive labeling tape
Need to create a label or a sign containing more than one line? No problem. The kit includes clear plastic adhesive sheets that can be cut into any size or shape
Bump Dots and Locator Dots can be a great way to add a simple tactile mark wherever you may need one
A slate and stylus for brailling, Bold Writer Pens and items like our boldline tablet or a full-page writing guide offer numerous choices to both students and teachers alike
Create helpful shapes and diagrams using the included package of Wikki Stix
Teach a student about geographic locations in and around the country with our included maps of both the state of California as well as the continental US.
Use the pocket-sized contractions guide to refresh students’ knowledge of the Unified English Braille Code
Practice reading by playing a game with a set of tactile dice or a pack of playing cards
The Braille/large print ruler can be used to teach the concept of measuring, and a talking keychain clock is a great way to show young students about telling time
Braille alphabet cards for those beginners who are new to Braille, or for showing the concept of Braille to sighted classmates
All of these helpful items come packaged conveniently in an easy-to-carry LightHouse tote bag.
The Premier Kit for Teachers of Blind Students retails for $125 from the LightHouse for the Blind’s Adaptations Store, and can be shipped anywhere in the US. Give us a call at 415-694-7301 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to order yours today!
Lockheed Martin, App Dynamic, Grove Collective, the San Francisco Public Library and the State of the California—what do these things all have in common?
Each of these companies and institutions hired one of our Employment Immersion Graduates within the last two weeks, representing a step towards improving employment rates in the blind and visually impaired community.
These five hires are a testament to our students’ tenacity and hard work, as well as to companies’ increasing dedication to inclusivity. The batch of prestigious hires also speaks volumes to the commitment of our Employment Immersion Program staff, who work one-on-one with students even after they complete the four-week program and liaise with employers to match them with students, and vice versa.
“We don’t care if you’re young, old, totally blind, low vision, have a college degree or no college degree,” says Employment Program Manager Kate Williams. “It doesn’t matter as long as you have a real desire to go to work. We furnish our Employment Immersion students with the tools to make sure that happens, by building their confidence and giving them the techniques to conduct a successful job search.”
In the blindness community, we know that one size does not fit all, and this is reflected in the curriculum of this four-week workshop. With a combination of short lectures, interactive activities, expert speakers and candid, honest discussions, each blind or low vision student has an opportunity to explore their interests, aptitudes, and think outside the box about which part of the job market holds the highest promise for their talents and ambitions.
Step-by-step training includes:
Using personality indicators like Meyers Briggs and Gallup StrengthFinder to identify core strengths as a springboard to build a career
Resume and cover letter building
Job search techniques, networking and the hidden job market
The application process
Blindness disclosure and requesting accommodations
Interview preparation including self presentation and body language
Free professional and online portrait photographs courtesy of LightHouse for the Blind
“We spend a great deal of time on encouraging our attendees to connect,” says Williams. “My motto is ‘People hire people.’ We help students make connections during the job search and interview process that are genuine and show their own authenticity. We’re fostering relationship building — which is a lifelong skill.”
With an increase in referrals as LightHouse steps in as the key provider of services in the East Bay, our Employment Immersion Program is growing and evolving to meet higher standards and increasing volume of blind jobseekers. The sky’s the limit, once the skills are there.
Keep chipping away at those employment statistics and sign up for a Employment Job Preparation Workshop this fall. The workshop is open to people who are blind or have low vision, from any background, seeking any job. To sign up, contact Employment Immersion Trainer Angela Denise Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-694-7353.