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Arts and Entertainment

Our Popular Woodworking Workshop with George Wurtzel Returns in the New Year

Photo: Surrounded by woodworking tools and machinery, George Wurtzel works on a wooden bowl in the DeLong-Sweet Tactile Arts Barn at Enchanted Hills.

Join expert carpenter George Wurtzel at our popular workshop for both beginning and experienced woodworkers.

This class will cover wood turning, hand tool work and an introduction to power tools. We’ll learn how to measure accurately without sight, using click rules, gauge blocks, Vernier calipers and talking tape measures. We’ll talk about wood types and construction techniques and learn when to glue, when to nail and when to use screws. We’ll also touch on finishing techniques.

Who: Adults (ages 21 and older) who are blind or have low vision and are eager to learn woodworking
Where: Enchanted Hills Camp
When: Thursday, February 16 through Sunday, February 19, 2017
Cost: $300.00 plus $40.00 for transportation
Class is limited to six participants, so sign up now.

For questions and registration, please contact Taccarra Burrell at TBurrell@LightHouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7310.

Dance Like a Star on Saturday, September 17

Part of the LightHouse BEST (Building Excellence with Skills Training) Series for middle school and high school youth

Work off the lunch you made in our Iron Chef cooking class (or just attend this class on its own) with some new dance moves. Or just attend this class on its own. You’ll have fun while our blind mentors teach you a variety of dance steps. The class is intended for dancers of all experience levels, whether you are just learning to tango or ready to master the two-step. Who knows, we might even have time to learn the Nae Nae!

Who: Youth who are blind or have low vision, ages 8 to 18
What: Learn dance from low vision and blind mentors
When:  From 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 17. This is a one-time-only class.
Where:  The new LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, 94103
Waiver: Each participant must submit a LightHouse Youth Program waiver form if they have not done so for a previous outing or event.
Cost: FREE for youth who are blind or have low vision

Classes will be limited to 12 participants and all participants must RSVP.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact Jamey Gump, Youth Services Coordinator, at (415) 694-7372, or by email at jgump@lighthouse-sf.org.

Tickets on Sale Now for Superfest: International Disability Film Festival!

Photo: Image from the film “Awake”.

Together with the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is pleased to announce that tickets are now available for this year’s Superfest: International Disability Film Festival, our 30th anniversary!

Day 1: Saturday, October 22 at the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, Berkeley
Screenings: 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
30th Anniversary Celebration 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.
Come celebrate Superfest International Film Festival’s 30th with an anniversary party, in between screenings.
Tickets to Saturday’s party and screenings are available here.

Day 2: Sunday, October 23 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco
Screenings: 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Tickets for Sunday’s screenings are available here.

Our panel of judges – made up of film aficionados, disability studies scholars and disability community organizers, all people with disabilities – had a difficult task selecting these films from a total of 119 submissions from 18 countries. The selected films bring to the screen a variety of topics and disabilities, each helping move forward Superfest’s mission to celebrate cutting-edge cinema that portrays disability culture in all its diverse, complex, and engaging facets.

Buy tickets at superfestfilm.com.





Just Across the Street – Explore the Sound Commons Exhibit with a Sighted Guide on Saturday, August 13

PHOTO: LightHouse staffers Justine Harris-Richburgh and Christina Daniels use mallets to play wooden xylophones at the Exploratorium’s “Sound Commons” exhibition.

“Sound Commons” is a new Exploratorium art installation at UN Plaza, located right in our front yard. On Saturday, August 13 a group of LightHouse volunteers from Oracle will give guided tours of this tactile and interactive exhibition just across the street from the new LightHouse building.

If you’d like to check out this fabulous exhibition on August 13, email volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org or call our volunteer reservation line at 415-694-7320.

When: Saturday, August 13, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Where: LightHouse for the Blind, 1155 Market Street, 10th Floor, San Francisco, 94103

LightHouse staff peer down echo tubes during a guided tour of Exploratorium’s “Sound Commons” exhibition.

From the Exploratorium website: “[Across the street from the LightHouse you can experience] the ringing of chimes and other harmonics when you visit Sound Commons, an interactive, sound-based installation designed to encourage playful social activity in this challenging public space…Three long Echo Tubes, looking like exposed ductwork, will create surprising echoes and other sound effects as people clap and talk into them. Another experience will inspire quietude: a bed of gravel embedded with sound-sensors will challenge users to walk as quietly as possible and score them on their tip-toeing skill.

Read the entire article.

Summer Concerts: Blind Music Academy Announces Three Concert Dates in August

PHOTO: Music academy students jam on keyboards and guitar.

Blind Music Academy Offering Free Concerts in August

In its third year, LightHouse’s summer Music Academy grows and expands. With an emphasis on composition, performance and learning to read and write music in braille for musicians who are blind or have low vision and are ages 16 to 24, our talent pool and ambition continues to grow. This year we’re excited to host students from the United States, Mexico and Canada. And with the opening in May of the LightHouse’s state-of-the-art San Francisco facility, Blind Music Academy will now be held both in the city and the country.

This year we have fourteen dedicated blind musicians, all under the age of 25, who are spending a week honing their skills as musicians and composers. The students are from all over North America, and though some of these individuals are already quite formidable talents, they are spending this week focused on not only becoming better performers but achieving fluency in braille music and other accessible forms of musical notation.

Each year Blind Music Academy culminates with a performance by our blind students, and this time around the group has announced that they will perform not once but three times, with additional concerts in both downtown Napa and San Francisco. Our students include a virtuosic classical pianist from Vera Cruz, Mexico and a locally-known jazz radio DJ and percussionist from El Paso, Texas, and the shows are guaranteed to be musically diverse and exciting.

Experience the power of Music Academy by joining us at one of these three, free concerts:

Blind Music Academy Summer Tour Dates

  • Friday, August 5 – Covenant Presbyterian Church, 7:30 p.m.
    1226 Salvador Ave, Napa, CA 94558
  • Saturday, August 6 – Enchanted Hills Camp, 4:00 p.m., with dinner following.
    3410 Mt Veeder Rd, Napa, CA 94558
  • Tuesday, August 9 – LightHouse for the Blind, 5:30 p.m., with reception following.
    1155 Market Street, 10th Floor, San Francisco 94103

The concerts are free. For those attending the concert at Enchanted Hills Camp, we are requesting a donation if you wish to join us for dinner after the show. Please RSVP for all concerts to Tony Fletcher at tfletcher@lighthouse-sf.org.

Our students walk into the Music Academy session brimming with talent. Take a look for yourself. Watch these videos for two of our students, concert pianist Fernando Apan and percussionist Lawrence Brown:

Fernando Apan interprets Mozart

Fernando Apan: Fantasía Para Piano y Clarinet

Interview with Lawrence Brown

About Blind Music Academy
Enchanted Hills Camp has paired up with Bill McCann, founder and president of Dancing Dots Braille Music Technology. Bill McCann pioneered this specialized music academy model both in Canada and in the United States. Music Academy is for musicians who are blind or have low vision between the ages of 16 to 24 years old who are serious about music or might be thinking of entering the profession. This academy introduces students to using non-visual techniques to compose music, read the works of others, learn performance skills and gain the capacity to compete for and win employment in the music field.

This year’s Music Academy session is full. If you have questions about next year’s session, please contact Taccarra Burrell at ehc@lighthouse-sf.org or 451-694-7310.

Learn How to Use the Victor Reader Stream and Take One Home When You’re Done

If you are 55 or older, you are eligible for free LightHouse training on the Victor Reader Stream, a handheld accessible media player that is second-to-none. Upon completing the training successfully you’ll be able take your Victor Reader Stream home at no cost, at a savings of $329.00!

The Victor Reader Stream, manufactured by HumanWare, offers you an easy way to access written word and audio files. During this three-week intensive training course beginning on July 26, you will fully learn how to use this versatile technology that gives users the opportunity to hold an enormous library of books and magazines in the palm of their hands.

Class dates: Tuesdays and Fridays, July 26, 29, August 2, 5, 9, 12
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Please bring your own lunch.
Location: LightHouse for the Blind, 1155 Market Street, 10th Floor, San Francisco 94103

Sign up now as space is limited. All students must register by Friday, July 22nd. 

Adaptations, the LightHouse Store sells the  Victor Reader Stream for $329.00. Students who fully complete the three-week course and demonstrate independent use of the device will leave the class with a free device.

With the Victor Reader Stream you can:

  • download and listen to audiobooks by your favorite authors
  • subscribe and listen to your favorite podcasts
  • listen to the latest newspapers and magazines
  • record critical phone numbers and calendar information with the touch of a button

To participate in this class you:

  • must be 55 years or older and not currently enrolled with the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) or Veterans Administration (VA)
  • must not currently own a Victor Reader Stream
  • must be an avid reader and interested in downloading books and magazines from online sources

Note: If you are a consumer of DOR or the VA, please speak with your counselor to request individual training from the LightHouse.

Funding for this class is specifically from the Older Individuals who are Blind (OIB) program.

How to Register:
If you are new to the LightHouse, have not participated in LightHouse classes within the past year or have questions, please start by contacting Demenagement ADT and Debbie Bacon at 415.694.7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org.  If you are a current LightHouse student and meet the criteria we’ve listed above, please register with Shen Kuan at 415.694.7312 or skuan@lighthouse-sf.org.


Music Academy Expands: Now in the Woods and in the City

Photo: Music Academy student edits music with accessible software

This year campers will enjoy our acclaimed music academy at Enchanted Hills, but to make things even more interesting we’ll also be taking campers out of the woods and into the city for some urban musical experiences.

Do you sing or play an instrument? Train with some of our nation’s best instructors at Music Academy at Enchanted Hills Camp. The LightHouse is partnering with Dancing Dots, the world’s leading provider of accessible music technology for the blind, to bring our summertime Music Academy back to the redwoods. The Academy is open to young, motivated musicians who are blind or have low vision and are 16 to 24 years old.

  • Where: Enchanted Hills Camp, Napa and LightHouse Headquarters, San Francisco
  • When: Monday, August 1 through Wednesday, August 10, 2016
  • Cost for the week, all-inclusive: $300
  • (If the registration fee is a barrier, let us know; some scholarships will be available.)

Bill McCann, President and Founder of Dancing Dots, blind himself, will lead a team of four blind instructors and technicians to teach the latest and greatest techniques for blind and low vision students.

This year in addition to time at Enchanted Hills, students will stay at our new headquarters in San Francisco. In the city there are many venues where young people can experience a variety of musical styles, including jazz, classical and rock music, and we’ll be visiting one or more of these. Our young musicians will also have the opportunity to perform in a variety of settings including a venue in St. Helena, our Redwood Grove Theater at Enchanted Hills Camp and at our new headquarters office.

To sign up for this session, contact Taccarra Burrell at ehc@lighthouse-sf.org or 451-694-7310 for an application or with any questions.

Enchanted Hills to Host “Woodworking for the Blind” Annual Summer Workshop

Led by our own master woodworker, George Wurtzel, Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind is excited to host the Woodworking for the Blind’s Fifth Annual Summer Workshop from August 23 through 27.

Woodworking for the Blind is a national organization of both novice and experienced blind woodworkers. The August Workshop features three full days of instruction at Enchanted Hills and will concentrate on various aspects of wood joinery including dovetails, mortise and tenons, box finger joints and lap and bridle joints. In addition there will be sessions on cutting curves with templates on both router and bandsaw, as well as woodturning techniques, coloring wood with dyes and stains, finishing guidelines and a presentation on developments in talking tools.

Although this workshop is full, George Wurtzel will be presenting another workshop training for blind woodworkers from November 10 thru the 13 at Enchanted Hills Camp. Applications for this special workshop will be available through the LightHouse website in August.

For further information, contact George Wurtzel at gwurtzel@lighthouse-sf.org.

Ticket Giveaway to SF DocFest’s Off the Rails – Co-presented by Superfest International Disability Film Festival

Superfest International Disability Film Festival announces a partnership with SF DocFest to co-present OFF THE RAILS, a film by Adam Irving. New York’s infamous transit thief, 50-year-old Darius McCollum, has been impersonating transit staff and stealing trains and buses for over 35 years, he has been given the opportunity of National Pardon but he has never taken it. He has been arrested no less than 30 times and has spent much of his life behind bars. The subway was his sanctuary as a child and he soon had memorized every train’s schedule and stops. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, depression, and anxiety stemming from a childhood school attack, the courts have never understood his obsession with transit.

In honor of Superfest’s 30th Anniversary we are giving away two tickets to the DocFest screening of Off the Rails at the Roxie Theater to the 30th person to send an email to jsachs@lighthouse-sf.org with the subject line “Off The Rails”.


Sunday, June 12: 4:30 p.m. at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street in San Francisco

Tuesday, June 14: 9:00 p.m. at the Vogue Theater, 3290 Sacramento Street in San Francisco

Superfest, the world’s longest running disability film festival, celebrates disability as a creative force in cinema and culture. We feature films with fresh ideas and images that inspire thought and meaningful conversation. Superfest is coordinated in partnership by the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability and LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Spaces Filling up Fast for Horse, Music and Woodworking Special Camp Sessions

Our special STEM, woodworking and horse camp sessions return to Enchanted Hills Camp for another summer. Read on for details on each session.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) for Youth
This year Enchanted Hills Camp is again offering a special STEM program within our Youth Session at Enchanted Hills. The STEM program will run from July 13 to 16 and will provide students ages 11 to 15 or are blind or have low vision with an unforgettable, hands-on learning experience in Science, Engineering and Technology and Math. More than education and fun, though, all participants will work with real-life blind scientists, chemists and engineers who will leave an unforgettable impression that adult science success is possible with little or no vision.

During the class, students will take part in hands-on, accessible and innovative activities including computing, rocket building, plant biology and chemistry. Students will also have the opportunity to take a field trip to the Exploratorium in San Francisco for some special hands on instruction by Exploratorium scientists.

Parents and guardians who wish to register their children for the STEM program can do so on a supplemental section which is included with the Youth Session application.

Who: Youth ages 11 to 15
When: Wednesday, July 13 through Saturday, July 16
Cost: $60 Session Fee (free for those attending the youth session)

To find out more about this session, contact Camp Director Tony Fletcher at afletcher@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7319, for an application or with any questions.


Woodworking with George Wurtzel

Student Amy Liu works with wood during a session at Enchanted Hills

 Join expert carpenter George Wurtzel for a week long workshop designed for transition aged campers that are beginners and intermediate woodworkers.

This class will cover wood turning, hand tool work and an introduction to power tools. We’ll learn how to measure accurately without sight, using click rules, gauge blocks, Vernier calipers and talking tape measures. We’ll talk about wood types and construction techniques and learn when to glue, when to nail and when to use screws. We’ll also touch on finishing techniques.

Who: Youth ages 16 through 24
When: Monday, August 1 through Sunday, August 7, 2016
Cost: $300.00
Class is limited to 12 participants, so sign up now

To sign up for this special workshop, contact Camp Director Tony Fletcher at tfletcher@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7319 for an application or with any questions.

Horse Camp with Diane Starin

Join us again for Horse Camp. Participants will have a chance to learn from avid horseback rider and wrangler, Diane Starin. Starin, who is blind, has owned, ridden, taught and cared for horses for more than 30 years. She has an Associates of Science degree in agricultural business, a Certificate in Horse Husbandry and is a certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor.

This camp session is for blind or visually impaired riders, ages 16 through 24. It is geared for those that have ridden before, but not a lot. Starin has a wealth of knowledge about the proper care of horses, and students will have a truly unique chance to learn from a blind professional how it’s done with little or no sight.

Diane told us, “Horses have been my passion since I was about two and I have wanted to teach a horse camp for as long as I can remember. This is especially important to me, because blind people don’t have as much of a chance to ride and handle horses.”

Who: Youth ages 16 through 24
When: Monday, August 1 through Sunday, August 7, 2016
Cost for each camper is $300.
Space is limited to six participants, so sign up while spaces are available. We expect this session to be very popular.

A separate application is available for this session. Campers must have independent mobility skills.

Objectives for Horse Camp:

  • Teach safety
  • Teach grooming
  • Teach tacking up
  • Teach good care and maintenance
  • Expand each camper’s knowledge of different kinds of equipment and their different applications
  • Riding and lessons as time and skill level allows

To find out more about this session, contact Camp Director Tony Fletcher at afletcher@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7319 for an application or with any questions.