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LightHouse News

Who are our SF Pride sponsors and why do we march together?

Thanks to the support of community sponsors The Mental Health Association of San Francisco and The Arc San Francisco, we have organized a pan-disability contingent for San Francisco Pride 2018 ready to make a strong statement about intersecting identities in the LGBT+ community. 

Learn more about their reasons for marching with us below:


Meet the Mental Health Association of San Francisco

The Mental Health Association of San Francisco LogoQ: What is the mission of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco?

A: The mission of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF) is to cultivate peer leadership, build community and advance social justice in mental health.

Q: Why is the Mental Health Association of San Francisco a proud sponsor of the LightHouse Disability Pride contingent? 

A: MHASF is a proud sponsor of the LightHouse Disability Pride contingent because we care deeply about the mental health of the LGBTQ+ communities we serve. Many of us are LGBTQ+ identified ourselves and have personal experience of mental health challenges due to stigma, isolation, and discrimination. We support one another and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our community partners to raise awareness about disability pride, rights, and resources.

Q: How does the work your organization does connect with the work we’re doing here at LightHouse? 

A: Just as LGBTQ+ communities are not a monolith but a coalition of community partners with common goals and a shared vision, MHASF is a part of the larger community of disability advocates, including LightHouse. While the focus of our work may differ, our communities sometimes overlap, and MHASF is committed to promoting equality and self-reliance for people with mental health challenges, providing professional development and skills training, and amplifying the voices of people with lived experience.

Q: What does Disability Pride mean to you? 

A: At MHASF, Disability Pride means bringing our whole selves to all we do and celebrating all of what makes us who we are. For many of us, our mental health conditions and histories have played an important role in making us the amazing, compassionate, resilient people we are today. We are proud of all we’ve accomplished, alone and together, and we want to share that pride with our community.

A: The first Pride was a riot. How can we keep this activist legacy in Pride and stay true to the spirit of the event? 

Q: Our goal at MHASF is to advocate when possible — and agitate when necessary! Pride is a celebration of everything LGBTQ+ communities have accomplished, but now more than ever, we recognize that we can’t afford to be complacent, especially when it comes to our rights and our mental health. MHASF is proud to stand with LightHouse and other members of the Disability Pride contingent to support each other and call out injustice wherever we find it.


Meet The Arc San Francisco

The Arc San Francisco Logo

Q: What is the mission of The Arc San Francisco?

A: Our mission is to transform the lives of adults with developmental disabilities by advancing lifelong learning, personal achievement and independence. Our full name is The Arc San Francisco. The “arc” in our name represents the arc of achievement. We believe that with the right support, over time, people with developmental disabilities can fulfill their highest potential, achieving personal goals and lifelong success — however it is personally defined. Our vision is to foster an inclusive world in which all people with developmental disabilities can thrive.

Q: Why is The Arc San Francisco a proud sponsor of the LightHouse Disability Pride contingent?

A: We are thrilled to be partnering with another organization that believes in the absolute equality of people with disabilities, and recognizes the intersectionality of people who have disabilities and are part of the LGBTQ community.

Q: How does the work your organization does connect to the work we’re doing here at LightHouse?

A: We have clients with developmental disabilities who are blind or have low vision. Both organizations recognize the full humanity of the people we serve which includes sexuality and sexual and gender identifications.

Q: What does Disability Pride mean to you?

A: Like LGBTQ Pride, we recognize that people with disabilities have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. People with disabilities are all born with unique gifts and talents to share, and have every right to fulfill dreams, achieve goals and participate fully in our communities.

Q: The first Pride was a riot. How can we keep this activist legacy in Pride and stay true to the spirit of the event?

A: It’s so important to recognize that The Stonewall Riots were a response by mostly drag queens, gender fluid people, and trans woman of color. They were what the police and US culture at the time thought were easy targets for bullying, harassment and abuse, and these revolutionaries had finally had enough. It’s a great story of how people who are ostracized, looked down on, shunned and seen as less than fully human can empower themselves, stand up, and demand justice and equality. By doing so, they not only liberate themselves, but all of us. People with disabilities experience so many of the same challenges that people who are LGBTQ face, and if you’re queer and disabled your challenges are even greater. By recognizing the true history of Pride we can learn from our achievements and empower everyone who is disenfranchised by our culture. We are not all free until everyone is free.

To sign up to march or learn more about our SF Pride Disability Contingent, visit lighthouse-sf.org/sf-pride-2018.

Announcing the 2018 Holman Prize Finalists

Grid of photos of the 2018 Holman Prize Finalists

 

Last year, we started the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition, a set of annual awards of up to $25,000 each for legally blind individuals with big ideas. In our second year, we received video applications from all over the world – including nine more countries we hadn’t heard from last year – all fascinating and compelling in their own rite. The Holman Team narrowed the pool to 42 semifinalists, all of whom submitted detailed proposals mapping out their dream projects.

This week, we’re proud to announce our elite group of fourteen finalists, including a “People’s Choice” finalist who we honor for receiving the highest number of YouTube ‘likes’ for his ambitious idea. These finalists will all be in the running to make their ambitions a reality when our Holman Committee meets in San Francisco this June.

The fourteen finalists are as diverse and dynamic a group as you could imagine, including those who want to give back to their communities, those who seek to push the boundaries of science and tech, and those with infectious enthusiasm for a particular or unexpected craft.

Over the next month, we hope you’ll sound off on which Holman Prize candidate you want to see take their ambitions on the road. Feel free to tag Holman Prize on TwitterInstagram and head to the LightHouse’s Facebook page for more updates.

Meet our 2018 finalists below: 

Becky Andrews

Bountiful, Utah, USA
Becky, a marathon runner and cyclist, would use the Holman Prize to implement a series of empowerment retreats for blind and visually-impaired women.

Zeljko Bajic

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Zeljko, a radio producer and host, would use the Holman Prize to create a podcast “for and about blind people living all over the world.”

Luanne Burke

Boulder, Colorado, USA

Luanne, a seasoned long-distance runner, would use the Holman Prize to educate visually-impaired communities around the world about the joys and logistics of guided running.

Stacy Cervenka

Sacramento, California, USA

Stacy, who works in the disability employment field, would use the Holman Prize to launch an accessible travel forum similar to Yelp or TripAdvisor, geared specifically towards helping blind users optimize their trips around the world.

Leona Godin

Castle Rock, Colorado, USA

Leona, an actor and writer, would use the Holman Prize to expand her magazine “Aromatica Poetica,” which is “dedicated to the arts and sciences” of smell. Furthermore, she would use the prize money to fund her own prize, geared in part towards visually-impaired writers.

Carol Green

Kirtland, New Mexico, USA

Having recently developed a braille code for the Navajo language, Carol would use the Holman Prize to launch a summer program to educate and share the code across the Navajo Nation. Her proposal also includes tactile interpretation of landscapes and critical features of the nation’s geography.

Andrew Hasley

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Andrew, a biologist and geneticist, would use the Holman Prize to facilitate a conference for blind scientists and students from across the globe, called “Sciencing While Blind,” where participants could network and exchange tips and tools.

Conchita Hernandez

Washington, DC, USA

Conchita, who is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Special Education, would use the Holman Prize to create a workshop in her native Mexico for professionals in the blindness field, and blind people of all ages.

Georgina Hollinshead

Matlock, Derbyshire, UK

Georgina, who says she was “born a crafter,” would use the Holman Prize to launch a social enterprise called Hook and Eye Crafts, geared toward teaching blind and visually impaired people the joys of knitting, crochet and cross-stitch.

Alieu Jaiteh

Banjul, Serrekunda, Gambia

Alieu, the founder of the blindness advocacy organization Start Now, would use the Holman Prize to provide various skills, including computer literacy, cane travel and Braille, to blind and low-vision participants in rural Gambia.

Sandeep Kumar

*People’s Choice Finalist*

Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Sandeep, who has developed a tool called Eye Renk, which allows the visually impaired to easily differentiate between various ocular medications, would use the Holman Prize to build a lab for further development of Eye Rank and other technologies for the visually impaired.

Ambrose Kiplangat Lasoy

Rift Valley Province, Kenya

Kiplangat would use the Holman Prize to develop a program to enable his fellow blind and low-vision Kenyans to become dairy farmers and entrepreneurs.

Aishwarya T.V.

Secunderabad, Telangana, India

Aishwarya, a filmmaker and rehabilitation counselor, would use the Holman Prize to create a training center for the blind and low-vision community to study elements of filmmaking like script writing, film editing, sound mixing, production and more.

Red Szell

London, UK

Red, an extreme sports enthusiast, would use the Holman Prize to undertake an extreme sports triathlon to conquer Am Buachaille, one of the most remote rock pinnacles at the Northwest tip of the United Kingdom.

Learn more about the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition at www.holmanprize.org.

Meet the blind judges who will select the 2018 Holman Prizewinners

In its second year, the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition received almost one hundred applications from 19 countries and 22 American states. The semifinalists’ proposed projects are extraordinary – including bringing beep baseball to Argentina, creating the world’s first tactile Escape Room, launching a magazine dedicated to the art and science of smell and empowering people who are blind in rural Gambia. It won’t be an easy task to choose he three 2018 prizewinners from such a strong and diverse group.

The Holman Team is in the process of selecting finalists for the judging committee to select from, but in the meantime, we invite you to peruse the whole group of semifinalists’ Holman Prize submission videos to experience the diversity of people and proposals in the field.

In just a few weeks, we’ll welcome our judges in San Francisco to review the finalists’ proposals and select the 2018 Holman prizewinners. Learn more about the judges below and stay tuned for a forthcoming announcement of our elite group of Holman Prize Finalists.

Bryan Bashin Headshot

Bryan Bashin, CEO at the LightHouse for the Blind in San Francisco since 2010.

Don Brown Headshot

Don Brown, CEO of Access Work Systems, a HR compliance Management consulting firm, which he founded in 2000.

Dr. Wendy David headshot

Dr. Wendy David, licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Seattle and published author of books including, “Sites Unseen: Traveling the World without Sight.”

Chancey Fleet Headshot

Chancey Fleet, assistive technology coordinator at the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library at New York Public Library.

Aerial Gilbert headshot

Aerial Gilbert, former outreach manager for Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael. She is also an avid rower and has competed in the adaptive division of the World Rowing Championships.

Rosa Gomez, assistant deputy director of the Specialized Services Division of the California State Department of Rehabilitation.

Anil Lewis headshot

Anil Lewis, executive director of the NFB Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, MD.

Dr. Brian Miller Headshot

Dr. Brian Miller, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in Washington D.C.

Dr. Sile O'Modhrain Headshot

Dr. Sile O’Modhrain, professor in performing arts technology at the school of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan.

Jason Roberts Headshot

Jason Roberts, an accomplished author, Roberts’ wrote “A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler,” about the intrepid blind traveler (and namesake of this prize) James Holman.

Dr. Sharon Sacks headshot

Dr. Sharon Sacks, former superintendent of the California School for the Blind. Sacks recently retired.

Victor Tsaran headshot

Victor Tsaran, technical program manager at Google, helping to make Android accessible for all.

Dr. Sheri Wells-Jensen

Dr. Sheri Wells-Jensen, associate professor in the Department of English at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Gary Wunder Headshot

Gary Wunder, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri and the editor of the Braille Monitor.

A touching way to tell your parents ‘thank you’, this Mother’s and Father’s Day

This Mother or Father’s Day, pick up a braille card made by the MAD Lab to express your appreciation for your mom or dad. The Adaptations Store is offering several designs, each with ink-print, tactile and braille designs on a white background.

The words 'Happy Mother’s Day’ in blue text and braille, in the middle of a red ink and tactile heart, made up of braille x’s and o’s.
The words ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ in blue text and braille, in the middle of a red ink and tactile heart, made up of braille x’s and o’s. Blank inside.
The words 'Happy Father’s Day’ in blue text and braille, in the middle of a red ink and tactile heart, made up of braille x’s and o’s.
The words ‘Happy Father’s Day’ in blue text and braille, in the middle of a red ink and tactile heart, made up of braille x’s and o’s. Blank inside.
  • Individual cards are $6, or you can purchase four for $20.
  • All cards come with an envelope.
  • All front covers of the greeting cards feature a combination of ink print and tactile graphic design.
  • The Adaptations Store and the MAD Lab will continue working together to design fun and creative accessible greeting cards that appeal to a wide audience, for all occasions.
  • We will roll out cards all-year-round. Stay posted for cards for all occasions!
  • If you have suggestions for cards we should make for upcoming holidays, please email adaptations@lighthouse-sf.org!

Adaptations is the only place in Northern California with a comprehensive offering of tools, technology, and other solutions for blind and visually impaired people. The store is located at our San Francisco headquarters at 1155 Market Street, on the 10th floor. Store hours are Monday through Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with extended hours on Tuesdays until 7 p.m. We are also open on the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Although we do not take online orders at the current time, we encourage you to call our staff at 1-888-400-8933 to inquire about item pick up or mail orders or email our store staff at adaptations@lighthouse-sf.org.

LightHouse Issues RFP for Comprehensive Program Evaluation

The front facade of The Lighthouse Building, our new headquarters at 1155 Market Street

Request for Proposals

LightHouse Program Evaluation RFP (.docx)

The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco is soliciting proposals to evaluate the efficacy of the organization’s student-facing programs.

The LightHouse embarked upon a three year strategic plan in 2017, and one of the core focus areas of the final plan is establishing an ongoing methodology for program effectiveness and evaluation. The LightHouse has more than 80 unique programs, spanning the breadth of the blindness experience, including skills training, community service and integration, innovation, and technology and employment services. We also offer robust programs at our Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa, three satellite training centers, and a direct-employment light manufacturing facility. Altogether we serve approximately 3,000 people who are blind or have low vision every year.  Our goal is to determine how effective our programs are and how to evaluate their scope and impact going forward.

The successful proposal will address two key needs. The first is to measure the impact and effectiveness of several dozen key LightHouse programs. The second is to develop an ongoing system for staff to continue internal program measurement and evaluation going forward.

The LightHouse seeks to work with an outside consultant to build a flexible mechanism for evaluating program effectiveness, both in the program development process and while programs are active. We wish to build a mechanism so that program directors and management will quickly know when programs are succeeding, and also help determine how we might wish to change or eliminate programs that exhibit limited effectiveness.

Download: LightHouse Program Evaluation RFP (.docx)

SUBMISSION DEADLINE AND PROCESS

Proposals are due no later than 5:00 pm PDT on Friday June 1st. Please see full RFP for submission guidelines and contact information.

An Enchanted Hills Camp Update: Get ready for Summer 2018

At the beginning of April, our AmeriCorps Blue2 completed their 12 week service at Enchanted Hills Camp, leaving it in much better shape than they found it! This bright, talented, caring, energetic group left their mark — they renovated and cleaned all the Lakeside Cabins, dining hall, and kitchen, installed new windows in the Gathering House, removed Azola from the lake, worked on fire abatement, repaired smoke and heat damage, helped resurrect the pool area, mowed, raked, lifted, fixed, painted, hauled, polished and cared for Enchanted Hills in every way possible. We’re so thankful to Blue2 for serving with us and we salute them as they embark on their next assignment in Puerto Rico!

But the work’s not finished yet — so earlier this week we welcomed a brand new AmeriCorps Green4 team, who will finish what Blue2 started as we get ready for our campers to arrive in June! We’ll be constructing platforms for eight state-of-the-art Sweetwater Bungalows starting on May 5, which will house campers after our lower camp cabins were destroyed.

Meanwhile, our friends at the Kiwanis Club of Greater Napa helped seal the hand-carved benches in the Redwood Grove Theater and stopped by with some ‘Bat Hotels’ for our resident EHC bats. We also have two new furry camp residents: meet our new donkeys Citizen and Quill, who are seem to be getting along just swimmingly with the goats. And all the necessary tree work is happening as we speak!

EHC is coming back to life with the help of an entire community, and we’re so thankful for the care and support of our volunteers, donors, camp staff and many more. A huge thank you to Access Ingenuity, Miner Family Winery, the Yale Alumni Association, Salesforce, Sterling Vineyards, Wells Fargo, Osprey, XL Construction, BPM Accounting and Consulting Firm, and the Northern CA Association of the Deaf-Blind. If you’d like to join the EHC family, check out our current job openings; we’re still looking for summer camp counselors. You can also support us by donating to our Rebuild EHC fund or joining us in Napa on April 21 for our largest annual fundraiser, Cycle for Sight. Learn more at cycle4sight.com.  

Americorps Blue2 team builds a new foundation at Enchanted Hills Camp.
Americorps Blue2 team builds a new foundation at Enchanted Hills Camp.
Our friends from the Napa Kiwanis Club put a protective coating on the benches in the Redwood Grove Theater to prevent rot. Some of the benches are charred, a reminder of the October fires in Napa.
Our friends from the Napa Kiwanis Club put a protective coating on the benches in the Redwood Grove Theater to prevent rot. Some of the benches are charred, a reminder of the October fires in Napa.
The two goats and two donkey stand beside the barn at EHC.
Meet our new donkeys Citizen and Quill, who are seem to be getting along just swimmingly with the goats.
EHC Construction Manager George Wurtzel installs new windows in the Gathering House.
EHC Construction Manager George Wurtzel installs new windows in the Gathering House.
EHC Site Staff Janet Lay smiles with the donkeys, Citizen and Quill.
EHC Site Staff Janet Lay smiles with the donkeys, Citizen and Quill.

 

Like renting Redbox movies? LightHouse is seeking blind California residents for paid usability study

In 2014, the LightHouse reached a settlement with Redbox Automated Retail LLC, which required Redbox to improve accessibility of their movie rental kiosks in California. As a result of the lawsuit, Redbox agreed to make its approximately 3,600 movie and video game rental kiosks accessible to blind users. You can now browse, select and return movies with headphones and a text-to-speech interface controlled via touchpad, thanks to careful collaboration between LightHouse and Redbox. Now, Redbox wants to make sure its accessibility measures are working to meet the needs of its blind users. And that’s where you come in.

Help the LightHouse as we continue to ensure accessibility of Redbox movie rental kiosks! Sign up to become a tester and try out Redbox’s new platform for accessibility. We have completed the first round of tests and need additional participants.

You’ll be asked to test the following functions to determine its effectiveness for blind users:

  • Accessing information with the user interface touch pad
  • Browsing through options and locate your desired movie
  • Renting a movie
  • Returning a movie

Gratuity:

  • Participants will be compensated with a $150 Visa gift card upon completion of the study survey

What is required:

  • Two visits to a Redbox kiosk convenient to your location. Redbox Kiosks are located outside and inside supermarkets and retail centers throughout CA and can be found via www.redbox.com
  • Independently operate the kiosk functions and go through the tasks without sighted assistance
  • Headphones to hear the speech output prompts
  • Debit or credit card to pay for the movie rental
  • Provide your transportation to and from the kiosk location
  • Two visits are needed to complete the study, one visit to rent the movie and one visit to return the movie.
  • Allow approximately 20 minutes per visit to navigate the interface, to browse, rent  and/or return the movie
  • Please be aware that other customers may wish to use the kiosk during the study
  • After each visit, you must complete a survey with your findings
  • The initial testing period will take place from January 12 through January 26. Note that there will be three additional test periods in April, July and October 2018.

Sign up to become a tester by emailing redbox@lighthouse-sf.org by May 12. Please note that you are responsible for your transportation to and from Redbox kiosks and incur the normal risks associated with your travel. Testers must be 18 years or older.

LightHouse is featured in the Cooper Hewitt Museum’s new exhibition, The Senses: Design Beyond Vision

This month, The Senses: Design Beyond Vision launches at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, to explore how multi-sensory design amplifies everyone’s ability to learn, explore and satisfy essential human needs and experiences.

The exhibition, which runs from 13 April until 28 October, explores design through all the senses with interactive installations, created in collaboration with more than 65 contemporary designers in the fields of product, interior, graphic, and interaction design, data visualization, scent design.

Many of the designs were created to promote independence for people with disabilities. The diverse lineup includes several designs by the LightHouse’s MAD Lab including TMAPs of the area surrounding the Cooper Hewitt Museum, our Talking BART Maps and two DCS printed floor plans of LightHouse to showcase how tactile design contributed to Chris Downey’s architectural process.

The exhibition was organized by Andrea Lipps, Cooper Hewitt’s Assistant Curator of Contemporary Design, and Ellen Lupton, Cooper Hewitt’s Senior Curator of Contemporary Design around several key concepts:

  • Design is multisensory, engaging the whole body
  • Senses interact and transform each other
  • Materials have sound, temperature, weight, and other tactile qualities
  • Sound is a vibration that can be felt on the body and skin and trigger mental images
  • Language and past experiences influence perception making each person’s sensory experience unique

“Across all industries and disciplines, designers are avidly seeking ways to stimulate our sensory responses to solve problems of access and enrich our interactions with the world,” says Cooper Hewitt’s Director Caroline Baumann. “The Senses shares their discoveries and invites personal revelation of the extraordinary capacity of the senses to inform and delight.

“Within the inclusive environment created for the exhibition, there will be over 40 touchable objects, as well as services, such as audio and visual descriptions of the works on view, to ensure the exhibition will be welcoming to visitors of all abilities, an important step forward in our ongoing commitment to making Cooper Hewitt accessible to everyone.”

The Senses: Design Beyond Vision will launch at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York on 13 April and run until 28 October 2018.

To contract for custom tactile maps of your neighborhood, workplace or university or propose a project, visit http://lighthouse-sf.org/braille-and-accessible-design/.

Safe Streets: Our new campaign strives to educate about cane laws, eliminate traffic deaths

Did you know? Pedestrians using guide dogs or white canes with or without a red tip must be given the right-of-way at all times.

This spring, we’ll be out in the streets wearing bright orange shirts and teaching drivers and pedestrians about traffic laws and best practices when it comes to blind or low vision pedestrians. Thanks to a Vision Zero SF Safe Streets For Seniors grant, we’re joining the community effort led by the City and County to eliminate all San Francisco traffic fatalities by 2024.

On March 28, we’ll kick off our efforts in Civic Center Plaza from 11 to 1 p.m. Our senior ambassadors will be out in the streets demonstrating safe pedestrian practices including street crossing and human guide. We have several events scheduled throughout the spring, so be sure to mark your calendars for April 25, May 9 and May 30 if you can’t make the kickoff.

Attention drivers and cyclists! Blind pedestrians using white canes or dogs guides have the right-of-way AT ALL TIMES, according to law. Please follow the California DMV rules below to keep pedestrians safe:

  1. White cane users have the right-of-way – always.
  2. Stay off the crosswalk, but don’t stop more than 5 feet away. We listen for cars.
  3. Don’t shout, honk or yell instructions to blind pedestrians. It’s confusing!
  4. Don’t block sidewalks, alleys or park across driveways with your cars.
  5. Stop at ALL crosswalks where pedestrians are waiting.
  6. Quiet cars: keep a safe distance from all pedestrians.
  7. When you turn right, always watch for blind pedestrians.
  8. Trust our mobility skills. We’ll stay in our crosswalk as long as you stay in your lane!

Vision Zero SF is the City’s road safety policy that will build safety and livability into our streets, protecting the one million people who move about the City every day.

Why do we need it? Every year in San Francisco, about 30 people lose their lives and over 200 more are seriously injured while traveling on city streets. These deaths and injuries are unacceptable and preventable, and San Francisco is committed to stopping further loss of life.

What does it mean? The City and County of San Francisco adopted Vision Zero as a policy in 2014, committing to build better and safer streets, educate the public on traffic safety, enforce traffic laws, and adopt policy changes that save lives. The goal is to create a culture that prioritizes traffic safety and to ensure that mistakes on our roadways don’t result in serious injuries or death. The result of this collaborative, citywide effort will be safer, more livable streets as we work to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024.

Announcing the 2018 Holman Prize Semifinalists

Our 2018 Holman Prize applicants were met with a challenge in the first round: to create a 90-second video pitching a dream project, and giving us a taste of their motivations and personality. We received applications from every continent (except Antarctica), and have narrowed the field down to 42 worthy applicants.

The most important thing about the Holman Prize, though, is the entire group of applicants and the impressions they make on the world. Our 2018 candidates pitches were viewed thousands of times on YouTube: that’s thousands of people watching videos that chip away at stereotypes of blindness and offer a multifaceted view into the wide ranging and one-of-a-kind ambitions of blind people worldwide.

Below is the list of semifinalists for the 2018 Holman Prize. In June, their proposals will be reviewed by the 2018 Holman Committee — a fresh group of highly accomplished blind women and men from around the world, comprised of some returning judges and some new to the committee.

Click on each name to watch their original pitch video, share, and spread the word: This is what blind ambition really looks like.

The 42 Semifinalists, in alphabetical order:

Becky Andrews, a marathon runner and cyclist, would use the Holman Prize to implement a series of empowerment retreats for blind and visually-impaired women.

Manuel Aregullin, an assistive technology instructor who has also studied music in Cuba for more than twenty years, would use the Holman Prize to teach Cuban music to large groups of students, as well as upgrading the assistive technology he uses in his lessons and purchasing more instruments.

Michael Armstrong would use the Holman Prize to train for a triathlon, which he would complete using a non-visual technique called Vibravision that would enable him to compete without the aid of technology or a sighted companion.

Edward Babin, a songwriter, producer and entrepreneur who performs as Eddy Echo, would use the Holman Prize to organize a showcase for blind and visually impaired musicians in New York City.

Zeljko Bajic, a radio producer and host, would use the Holman Prize to create a podcast “for and about blind people living all over the world.”

Luanne Burke, a seasoned long-distance runner, would use the Holman Prize to educate rural visually-impaired communities around the world – including countries like Scotland, China and New Zealand – about the joys, and logistics, of guided running.

Stacy Cervenka, who works in the disability employment field, would use the Holman Prize to launch an accessible travel forum similar to Yelp or TripAdvisor, geared specifically towards blind users.

Peggy Chong, the “Blind History Lady,” would use the Holman Prize to conduct research into the Blinded Veterans of WWI through the Maryland Historical Society, Library of Congress, and more.

Jean Elston would use the Holman Prize to travel North America, creating small paintings and sketches that she will turn into larger pieces when she returns home. Jean would also create a video blog of her journey, to give her audience more insight into her process and challenges.

Matt Formston, a longtime surfer, would use the Holman Prize to teach his blind and low-vision community how to become surfers themselves and to “share the feeling of freedom” that surfing can provide.

Divyanshu Ganatra, an entrepreneur and avid paraglider, would use the Holman Prize to facilitate mountaineering, rock climbing, scuba diving, paragliding and more for both his visually-impaired and sighted peers, with the hope of creating a larger dialogue around disability.

Nathan Gibbs, a tech consultant and web developer, would use the Holman Prize to continue his “As Alexa Sees It” project, which is intended to make Amazon’s Echo technology even more useful for blind and low-vision consumers.

Leona Godin, an actor and writer, would use the Holman Prize to expand her magazine “Aromatica Poetica,” which is “dedicated to the arts and sciences” of smell. Furthermore, she would use the prize money to fund her own prize, geared in part towards visually-impaired writers.

Carol Green, a teacher of the visually impaired, would use the Holman Prize to teach Braille, in the Navajo language, to blind children and adults in the Navajo Nation during a summer program that would also include life skills training.

Andrew Hasley, a biologist and geneticist, would use the Holman Prize to facilitate a conference for blind scientists and students from across the globe, called “Scienc’ing While Blind,” where participants could network and exchange tips and tools.

Markus Hawkins, a long time practitioner of the healing arts, would use the Holman Prize to travel to China to study the healing art of chilel, and then incorporate it into his practice upon returning home.

Conchita Hernandez, who is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Special Education, would use the Holman Prize to create a workshop in her native Mexico for professionals in the blindness field, and blind people of all ages.

Andrew Hesser, would use the Holman Prize to travel throughout the UK producing nature documentaries to facilitate the blind and low-vision community’s connection to the great outdoors, all in character, using an alter ego named “Bryan.”

Justin Holland, a bodybuilder and video blogger, would use the Holman Prize to travel the world and engage with blind and low-vision communities, encouraging them to get involved in adventures and athletic activities.

Georgina Hollinshead, who says she was “born a crafter,” would use the Holman Prize to launch a social enterprise called Hook and Eye Crafts, geared toward teaching blind and visually impaired people the joys of knitting, crochet and cross-stitch.

Alieu Jaiteh, the founder of the blindness advocacy organization Start Now, would use the Holman Prize to provide various skills, including computer literacy, cane travel and Braille, to blind and low-vision participants in rural Gambia.

Ambrose Lasoy would use the Holman Prize to develop a program to enable his fellow blind and low-vision Kenyans to become dairy farmers and entrepreneurs.

Rachel Longan, a psychotherapist and singer, would use the Holman Prize to travel both the United States, and around the world to countries like Russia and Tanzania, teaching pre-existing vocal choirs how to make their organizations more accessible and accommodating for blind and low-vision participants.

Rachel Magario, a seasoned traveler and video blogger, would use the Holman Prize to retrace the footsteps of James Holman’s first travels across Europe, for a video series called “In the Footsteps.”

Zahra Majid, who is currently pursuing a degree in media studies, would use the Holman Prize to travel and meet with visually impaired students around the world, in countries including Canada, the United States and Scandinavia, in order to gather a wealth of information for a database project she is calling VIAdvisor.

Dr. Sakui Malakpa, a university professor originally from Liberia, would use the Holman Prize to purchase laptops and other training tools for blind and low-vision communities in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Michael McCulloch, a retired aerospace engineer, would use the Holman Prize to produce an audio described documentary film about his upcoming hiking trek to Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. He would also write a book entitled “The Blind Man’s Guide to Machu Picchu,” containing hiking instruction, tips and more.

Louie McGee, an athlete and current high school senior, would use the Holman Prize to fund his training for the Iron Man competition, with a speaking tour to follow.

Francis Okello Oloya, a psychologist, would use the Holman Prize to create a guide dog program for his blind and low-vision community.

Joshua Pearson, an accessibility specialist and folk singer, would use the Holman Prize to record under-the-radar musicians around the world, in countries including the United Kingdom, Thailand, Vietnam and more.

Kellsea Phillips, a passionate athlete and aspiring competitor in the TV show American Ninja Warrior, would use the Holman Prize to train for, and attend, more competitions and auditions for the show.

Sandeep Kumar (People’s Choice Finalist), who has developed a tool called Eye Renk that allows the visually impaired to easily differentiate between various ocular medications, would use the Holman Prize to travel and teach underserved communities about Eye Renk.

Mariano Reynoso would use the Holman Prize to bring the sport of Beep Baseball to his home country of Argentina.

Maria Saavedra, a dance instructor originally from Colombia, would use the Holman Prize to launch a dance academy designed specifically for the visually-impaired community.

Marco Salsiccia, an accessibility specialist and self-proclaimed “hockey nut,” would use the Holman Prize to  travel for a full year with the San Jose Sharks hockey team, attending at least one game at each arena, in order to assess the accessibility of each rink and promote hockey to blind and visually-impaired athletes.

Nicole Schultz-Kass, a vocational rehabilitation counselor and YouTube blogger, would use the Holman Prize to interview and adventure with blind and low-vision people in 25 different locations around the United States, compiling the experiences on her YouTube channel,  “CraftyBlindChick.”

Matthew Shifrin, an actor and composer, would develop a multi-sensory comic book experience called “Hapticomix,” based on the Daredevil series, that incorporates surround sound, original music, a full cast, motion-simulation, and smell.

Red Szell, a writer and broadcaster, would use the Holman Prize to undertake an extreme sports triathlon to conquer Am Buachaille, one of the most remote rock pinnacles in the UK.

Aishwarya T.V., a filmmaker and rehabilitation counselor, would use the Holman Prize to create a training center for the blind and low-vision community to study elements of filmmaking like script writing, film editing, sound mixing, production and more.

Johnny Tai, a Martial Arts trainer, would use the Holman Prize to provide martial arts courses for the blind and visually-impaired community in his native Taiwan.

Danny Thomas Vang and Jeshua Gilbert Aveno would construct a multi-sensory “escape room” that enables visitors, and visually-impaired users in particular, to gather information and instructions from their environment.

Antyenette Walker, who performs under the name Young Ant, is a hip-hop MC who would use the Holman Prize to create more music and share it with her fans around the world.

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