Tag Archive

Blind

Are you 55 or older? Would you Like Some Individualized Support Clarifying Your Personal Goals this Summer?

Are you an older (55+) adult with recent vision loss? Would you like some cost-free help navigating the new challenges that you are experiencing? The LightHouse is offering a new program for you this summer. Reevaluate your future, set goals and initiate plans with six free one-hour sessions with our staff.

These short-term supportive sessions will help you get individualized assistance so you can get back on your feet and feel good about yourself.

  • Prioritize – you can’t do everything at once. We will help you break it down and get started, one step at a time.
  • Problem solve challenges with daily tasks/activities.
  • Revise your life plan or goals, whether leisure or work related.
  • Navigate changes in relationships with family and friends.
  • Reduce social isolation by finding ways to reconnect to your community. You are not alone.

For further details and to get started, please contact Dr. Connie Conley-Jung, Clinical Psychologist at the LightHouse by phone at 415-694-7307 or by email at cjung@lighthouse-sf.org.

Ten-Week Peer Support Group in Spanish

Anabella Denisoff and Esmeralda Soto will co-facilitate a support group starting Wednesday, June 22 to August 31. This group will meet every Wednesday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at our new headquarters.

Where: LightHouse for the Blind, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, California 94103.
When: Wednesdays, from June 22 to August 31, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Each week there will be a new topic for discussion regarding all aspects of living independently with changing vision. Thanks to a grant from the CA State Department of Rehabilitation OIB funding, there is no charge for people 55 and over. Scholarships are available to adults under 55.To register for this group, contact: Esmeralda Soto at 415-694-7323 or esoto@lighthouse-sf.org.

Diez Semanas de Grupo de Apoyo en Español
Anabella Denisoff y Esmeralda Soto facilitaran un grupo de apoyo, comenzara Miércoles, Junio 22-Agosto 31, 2016. El grupo se reunirá cada Miércoles de las 2:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. en nuestro nuevo edificio.

Dónde: LightHouse for the Blind, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, California 94103.
Cuando: todos los Miércoles entre 22 de Junio a 31 de Augusto, 2:00 p.m. a 4:00 p.m.

Cada semana habrá un nuevo tema para discusión tocante todos aspectos sobre viviendo independientemente con los cambios de visión. Gracias al OIB(Older Individuals who are Blind) financiada por el Departamento de Rehabilitación del Estado de California no habrá costo a adultos 55 años de edad o más. Becas seran disponible a adultos menor de 55 años de edad. Para registrarse para el grupo, por favor de contactar a: Esmeralda Soto al 415-694-7323 o esoto@lighthouse-sf.org.

Stay the Week – Learn and Connect at our New Headquarters

Students and instructors from the January class gather for a group photo in front of the fireplace at Enchanted Hills RetreatJoin us this month for our first Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) Immersion Training at our new Headquarters offices at 1155 Market Street in San Francisco.

Our new Student Residences can accommodate 2 to 3 students per room. Each Student Residence offers wireless internet connections, recharging stations and a personal bureau.  Students will be provided with a continental breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lodging is akin to a modern Bed and Breakfast – private men’s and women’s facilities are a short walk down the hall from each room. Student lodging is secure and comfortable both for learning and for connecting with others when there is a break from training.

Dates for our upcoming training sessions in 2016, all at our new Headquarters in San Francisco

Where: LightHouse for the Blind, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, California 94103

Session Dates:

June Session: June 13th to 17th (Deadline for sign-up is June 3rd.)
July Session: July 10th to 15th (note: all training in Spanish) (Deadline for sign-up is July 1st.)
August Session: August 16th to 22nd (training starts at our Napa site and finishes in San Francisco) (Deadline for sign-up is August 5th.)
September Session: September 18th to 23rd (Deadline for sign-up is August 9th.)

Over 160 active adults from all parts of Northern California have participated in the LightHouse immersion training programs at the Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa. Providing a second venue to facilitate Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion brings to our students the urban feel of training as well as the additional access a city has to offer, such as visiting the library for the blind; attending an audio described movie at a local movie theater or participating in an accessible art tour at one of the many museums in San Francisco.

You can be one of the first to go through our 2016 Immersion training in San Francisco. In our new urban environment you and your peers will be immersed in building a foundation of independent living skills, access technology skills, orientation and mobility and peer support to get you started on your journey of living your life the way you want in maintaining your independence. All of this along with the energy and vibrancy of one of the most beautiful cities in the world surrounding you.

The CVCL curriculum, presented in four or five sessions per day, includes: ways to read printed materials; understanding how lighting, contrast and magnification can help you every day; techniques for organizing and labeling in your home or office; best methods for taking notes; basic cooking skills; traveling and moving safely and confidently in your home and in the community and understanding how accessible computers and other high and low tech equipment can enhance your life.

Evening discussions focus inwards, from conversations about holding yourself accountable on your journey, to self-advocacy to questions about how friends, family and partners can understand/support you and your path. Sometimes the process is planned, other times it becomes very organic. Each person and every group of students is different and we individualize much of the experience depending on your own aspirations.

Gaining understanding of what is available to you, getting hands-on with new skills and developing renewed confidence with changing vision is the overall theme of the week. While the experience is different for everyone, the act of coming together with other adult students and teachers who are blind or have low vision, to learn or relearn skills and get back into the stream of life, is a pivotal part of the week-long experience.

Transportation access to San Francisco from Humboldt County will be provided for North Coast students and for those who reside in the bay area, 1155 Market sits right above the Civic Center BART and is only a short cab ride or bus from the Cal Train Station and the temporary Trans Bay Terminal.

Blind or low vision students who are interested should have a genuine interest in learning the skills for moving forward; enjoy learning with a group of peers and are able to participate full day (from 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day) of active learning and physical participation (urban mobility and public transit in San Francisco).

Note, there is no cost to attend if you are 55 or older and living in San Francisco, Alameda, Marin, Humboldt or Del Norte counties. Limited scholarships are available for persons under 55 and not eligible for Department of Rehabilitation Services.

The Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion Training is open to adults who are ready for a jump start or a recharge as their vision has changed. Be the first student to join us in San Francisco. Interested? Contact LightHouse staff in San Francisco, San Rafael or Eureka:

Press

The LightHouse has a rich, 114-year history, and is constantly forging ahead into new territory. Below is a review of selected recent publications covering the LightHouse’s activities and programs.

For general press inquiries, or if you are a filmmaker, photographer, editor or other media producer who’d like to cover our organization, please send a note to press@lighthouse-sf.org.

Subscribe to receive releases and unique stories from LightHouse

* indicates required




Select Topics of Interest:







Recent Stories

“LightHouse Expands to Support East Bay” – KCBS News

“Cane Trainer” – The Specialist Podcast

“Visually Impaired Musicians Overcome Obstacles with Technology at Napa Camp” – Napa Valley Register

“A Hands-On Guy Doing Hands-On Work in the Information Age” – The Braille Monitor profiles Enchanted Hills Construction Manager George Wurtzel

“The Best Party at SXSW Was in a Rented House Full of Blind People” – Re/code reviews our panel at SXSW 2016

“Blind People Don’t Need Your Help – They Need Better Design” – San Francisco Magazine

“Travelers in the Dark” – The New York Times provides a look into our flagship blindness skills immersion program

“Blind Architect drafts different blueprint for success” – CBS Evening News

“Pixar’s New App Gives the Blind a New Way to Experience Movies” – The California Report

“In Savvy Real Estate Play, LightHouse for the Blind to move to $45M new HQ” – San Francisco Business Times 

“An Architect Lost His Sight and Kept Working Thanks to Breakthrough Technologies for the Blind” – Dwell

“Forbes Honors Two LightHouse Mentors in Annual ’30 Under 30′” – LightHouse

“Is Braille Relevant in the Digital Age” – KALW Radio

“A Guiding Hand for the Blind” – The Wall Street Journal profiles Employment Program Manager Kate Williams

“This Tactile Map of Burning Man is Awesome, No Matter Your Level of Sight” – CityLab

Coverage of Donald Sirkin’s historic bequest on KQED’s The Leap PodcastNPR Weekend Edition, KQED Forum, KTVU News, and in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

“Craftsman’s blindness Doesn’t Hinder his Woodworking Vision” – Napa Valley Register

“40 Years After Acid Attack, a Life Well-Lived,” profile of board past-president Josh Miele in the New York Times

“New Technologies Map Mass Transit and More for the Blind” – WNYC’s The Takeaway

“Nonprofits Need to Stay in MId-Market Despite Rising Rents” – San Francisco Chronicle

“Blind Teens Tap Into Sense at Chemistry Camp” – National Public Radio

 

 

Disney – Pixar is Making Movies Better for Blind People

concept art: a landscape from Pixar's new film, 'The Good Dinosaur'

On a warm, sunny morning last month, a group of LightHouse employees piled into a van and drove north to Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas’ historic outpost in the rolling hills of Marin County. But we weren’t there to talk Wookies and Ewoks; we were being hosted, along with a handful of other blindness organizations, by Pixar Animation Studios

Some might be surprised to hear that Pixar and Disney (which now owns the Emeryville-based animation studio) would be seeking out blind and low vision individuals to test animated movies, but that’s exactly what was happening last month. In Lucas’ private theater, a group of almost thirty sat for a test screening of Pixar’s summer hit, Inside Out, each with a light set of headphones and a specially-loaded iPad on their lap. A small group of some of Pixar and Disney’s greatest movers and shakers waited patiently for feedback of a brand new technology they’ve been working on for some time now. Specifically, they’re on a mission to figure out two things: What is good audio description, and how can it best be delivered.

Many blind moviegoers and television fans don’t use audio description (also called Descriptive Video Service or DVS). Due to a combination of factors, including a range of DVS standards and practices, there are lots of blind and visually impaired folks who feel like it’s just not for them. Personally, I was one of those people — I had never watched a full film with audio description, and I’m told that about half of the group gathered at Skywalker was in the same boat.

And yet, once the narration kicked in and we got the levels right, the audio described Inside Out was a ball. We laughed, we (well, some of us) cried. Most of all, there wasn’t one person in the theater that felt left out of the experience. None of us needed to whisper back and forth quizzically about what was happening onscreen; none of of us sat silently spacing out during action sequences; and most importantly, we all smiled at the same time.

Paul Cichocki, the post-production supervisor at Pixar who oversees foreign language and audio described soundtracks, has been running these kind of focus groups for years, but this year they’re trying a few, exciting new things. “All studios make an effort to do this descriptive audio track,” he told me, “but we wanted to place the same kind of attention to the quality of audio narration as we do to the films themselves.” Disney’s aim, under the guidance of Paul and others, is to innovate rather than placate, to find an elegant solution to the seemingly daunting challenge of helping blind folks enjoy the movies as much as anyone else.

After the film, I sat at a table with Inside Out’s producer Jonas Rivera (who also produced Up) and a few other blind elementary and high school students and talked about our experience. We had all found the audio description satisfactory, useful, and even pleasurable — even those of us who had never used the tool before — but Rivera was nonetheless eager to improve the experience in any way possible.

“Did you understand what memories looked like?” He asked about clarity of action, about the choice of narrator, about how to properly introduce all the characters without overloading the listener. As the kids and adults responded, he took studious notes. “If this was me, when Joy sees Bing Bong disappear, I would amplify that maybe — but maybe that’s not right. Does it feel like the narrator is too robotic maybe? A little too literal, in some ways?” Jonas scribbled on a notepad as the kids talked. Simultaneously, at six other tables, a different Disney or Pixar employee did the same with other groups.

a voice actress works on the audio description for "The Good Dinosaur"When I spoke to Paul again this week, he had just gotten back from LA, where he was working with the voice actor recording audio description for Pixar’s new film, The Good Dinosaur. Usually the narrator’s script for an audio described film is contracted out to a specialized agency — in Pixar’s case it’s WGBH in Burbank, which handles most broadcast and film audio description on the west coast. Even with contractors like WGBH, Paul is totally hands-on. “I don’t know of any other studio that sits down and reviews the script for the narration track,” he told me this week. “We have the producer, the director, the writer, the film editor and myself comb through that script and make changes. I sent 3-4 rounds of changes to WGBH for The Good Dinosaur. And it’s about helping them, too — they don’t get direct feedback very often about what’s good and bad about their script.  We want to up that standard for the whole community — so that blind people can feel like they really saw the movie.”

Check back on the LightHouse blog again soon for more exciting news from Disney•Pixar.

article by Will Butler

Disney•Pixar is Making Movies Better for Blind People

concept art: a landscape from Pixar's new film, 'The Good Dinosaur'

On a warm, sunny morning last month, a group of LightHouse employees piled into a van and drove north to Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas’ historic outpost in the rolling hills of Marin County. But we weren’t there to talk Wookies and Ewoks; we were being hosted, along with a handful of other blindness organizations, by Pixar Animation Studios

Some might be surprised to hear that Pixar and Disney (which now owns the Emeryville-based animation studio) would be seeking out blind and low vision individuals to test animated movies, but that’s exactly what was happening last month. In Lucas’ private theater, a group of almost thirty sat for a test screening of Pixar’s summer hit, Inside Out, each with a light set of headphones and a specially-loaded iPad on their lap. A small group of some of Pixar and Disney’s greatest movers and shakers waited patiently for feedback of a brand new technology they’ve been working on for some time now. Specifically, they’re on a mission to figure out two things: What is good audio description, and how can it best be delivered.

Many blind moviegoers and television fans don’t use audio description (also called Descriptive Video Service or DVS). Due to a combination of factors, including a range of DVS standards and practices, there are lots of blind and visually impaired folks who feel like it’s just not for them. Personally, I was one of those people — I had never watched a full film with audio description, and I’m told that about half of the group gathered at Skywalker was in the same boat.

And yet, once the narration kicked in and we got the levels right, the audio described Inside Out was a ball. We laughed, we (well, some of us) cried. Most of all, there wasn’t one person in the theater that felt left out of the experience. None of us needed to whisper back and forth quizzically about what was happening onscreen; none of of us sat silently spacing out during action sequences; and most importantly, we all smiled at the same time.

Paul Cichocki, the post-production supervisor at Pixar who oversees foreign language and audio described soundtracks, has been running these kind of focus groups for years, but this year they’re trying a few, exciting new things. “All studios make an effort to do this descriptive audio track,” he told me, “but we wanted to place the same kind of attention to the quality of audio narration as we do to the films themselves.” Disney’s aim, under the guidance of Paul and others, is to innovate rather than placate, to find an elegant solution to the seemingly daunting challenge of helping blind folks enjoy the movies as much as anyone else.

After the film, I sat at a table with Inside Out’s producer Jonas Rivera (who also produced Up) and a few other blind elementary and high school students and talked about our experience. We had all found the audio description satisfactory, useful, and even pleasurable — even those of us who had never used the tool before — but Rivera was nonetheless eager to improve the experience in any way possible.

“Did you understand what memories looked like?” He asked about clarity of action, about the choice of narrator, about how to properly introduce all the characters without overloading the listener. As the kids and adults responded, he took studious notes. “If this was me, when Joy sees Bing Bong disappear, I would amplify that maybe — but maybe that’s not right. Does it feel like the narrator is too robotic maybe? A little too literal, in some ways?” Jonas scribbled on a notepad as the kids talked. Simultaneously, at six other tables, a different Disney or Pixar employee did the same with other groups.

a voice actress works on the audio description for "The Good Dinosaur"When I spoke to Paul again this week, he had just gotten back from LA, where he was working with the voice actor recording audio description for Pixar’s new film, The Good Dinosaur. Usually the narrator’s script for an audio described film is contracted out to a specialized agency — in Pixar’s case it’s WGBH in Burbank, which handles most broadcast and film audio description on the west coast. Even with contractors like WGBH, Paul is totally hands-on. “I don’t know of any other studio that sits down and reviews the script for the narration track,” he told me this week. “We have the producer, the director, the writer, the film editor and myself comb through that script and make changes. I sent 3-4 rounds of changes to WGBH for The Good Dinosaur. And it’s about helping them, too — they don’t get direct feedback very often about what’s good and bad about their script.  We want to up that standard for the whole community — so that blind people can feel like they really saw the movie.”

Check back on the LightHouse blog again soon for more exciting news from Disney•Pixar.

article by Will Butler

Blind & Low Vision Skills Training

Our team of teachers and specialists (many of whom are low vision/blind themselves) are highly trained in low vision and blind skills techniques and strategies, providing solutions to all aspects of maintaining one’s independence.

From learning essential safe travel skills in your home and community to accessing your daily mail, beloved novels, or e-mail and the internet using the latest access technology, the LightHouse can accommodate any individual seeking to enhance self-reliance. While there are many different ways to meet your needs and desires for training and independence, understanding what we can offer is important.

Our philosophy about teaching is that we work with you as a team, our teachers meet you where you are in your level of readiness and desire to move forward. Every person has their own journey and learning mode. As long as you are open to learning how you can do something in a new way with your changing vision, we are ready to provide the training and support you need.

For those who are new to low vision, blindness or have a recent change in their vision, we recommend our flagship program, CVCL.

Immersion Training: Changing Vision, Changing Lives (CVCL)

Changing Vision, Changing Lives is our introductory immersion program for adults who are newly blind or have experienced a change in vision and find that new skills are needed. The program introduces basic yet essential skills to live confidently at home and in the community. Topics such as magnification, organizational skills, time management, use of adaptive aids and accessing print materials provide students solutions and strategies for living with low vision or blindness. In addition, each class session includes a discussion on adjusting to changing vision.

While CVCL provides an introduction to solutions regarding blindness or low vision training and techniques, the bigger purpose is to bring people together, learning and sharing experiences together. While so many students have felt isolated in their learning, CVCL instinctively propels and motivates students to study further and know the right choices for later. A great majority of students who go through the CVCL class remain enthusiastically engaged with the LightHouse and return to leading full, active lives.

Students need not live in the Bay Area to take advantage of our CVCL program. Our facilities in Napa and San Francisco are equipped with lodging and meals to keep you comfortable and nourished throughout the training.

Read about CVCL in the New York Times!

In addition to CVCL, listed below are the core learning opportunities in which you can participate as a student. All of these skills can be learned from our headquarters in San Francisco and most of them from our satellite offices: LightHouse of Marin, LightHouse of the North Coast, or LightHouse of the East Bay.

Orientation and Mobility (O&M)

“Orientation” refers to the ability to know where you are and where you want to go; whether you’re moving from one room to another, walking route from your home to downtown, taking a bus from one place to another or ‘orienting’ to a new worksite or school campus.

“Mobility” refers to the ability to move safely, efficiently, and effectively from one place to another. This means walking confidently without tripping or falling, street crossing and use of public transportation. Learning mobility also includes learning the use of essential tools such as a cane or even a monocular for those with low vision, and strategies, such as listening for traffic patterns when crossing the street or using accessible pedestrian signals.

LightHouse teachers recognize that traveling ‘independently’ is done in so many ways and once basic skills are learned, students can concurrently learn alternate systems for travel such as Human Guide skills and transit using community Paratransit. Additionally, LightHouse Orientation and Mobility Specialists also provide training in navigation systems such as the Trekker Breeze; current mobility applications on smartphones for travel such as BlindSquare or orientation devices such as the Brain Port.

The ability to move about independently, with confidence and grace is an essential step towards self-confidence, independence and living a full life.

Essential Living Skills

Essential living skills, often referred to as Independent Living Skills or Daily Living Skills are none the less the essential skills you typically use for performing your daily routine. Many of these subconscious skills can change if your vision changes. Our team of skilled Certified Rehabilitation Specialist, Independent Living Skills and Kitchen Skills Teachers can provide you the tips, strategies, simple modifications and tools so that you can do to continue your routine at home, school or work. The beauty of the skills learned is that so many of them transfer to variety of other skills you may need in your life, such as cleaning/clearing a table requires tactile and/or visual scanning patterns or techniques, as does orientation and mobility, reading Braille or reading using a video magnifier.

While the skills are many, you work with your teacher to prioritize what skills are most essential to your independent living and daily routine. Here are some of the skills and strategies you can learn for home, school and/or work:

  • Personal Hygiene Care
  • Food Preparation and Kitchen Skills (from list making and shopping to cooking)
  • Clothing Care and developing and managing your wardrobe
  • Paper Management (bills, correspondences)
  • Organizational and labeling (visual and non visual)
  • Household Management and housekeeping
  • Record Keeping and financial/household document management
  • Money/banking management
  • Time and Calendaring Management Tools
  • Shopping (from on-line to in-store shopping)
  • Social and Recreational Involvement – getting back to a routine of fun!
  • Smartphone training and relevant apps

Access Technology 

Access Technology (AT) is exciting, ever changing and has become the big equalizer for persons who are low vision or blind. Our exceptional and trained AT staff are all users of Access Technology, from computer use (through speech or magnification), to scanning print on stand alone systems, or using a smartphone.

LightHouse AT Specialists and Trainers work with students in the following ways:

Assessment: Matching student’s abilities and needs with the array of tools is essential. LightHouse AT staff start off by conducting an AT Assessment with each student to understand the following:

  • What is the student’s current experience and skill with technology in general? What are they using now (including PC and/or MAC use)?
  • Visual function as it relates to best options effective and efficient access to print, either magnification or speech access.
  • Does the student have financial limitations to equipment needs?
  • Is the student a Braille user?
  • What tasks does the student need to complete using AT?
  • Does the student need to be mobile in using his/her AT?

All of these questions and help to identify not only what training a student may need, but also the equipment (from low tech to high tech) may be the best fit for the student, their vision and their intended use.

Training: The language alone used in teaching Access Technology as well as the names of the equipment and software can be overwhelming and hard to understand, but our AT staff understand this and their goal is to work with each student, ensuring the student can use the chosen technology efficiently and effectively as well as having the tools to problem solve potential hardware, software or user challenges. While each student works with the teacher on a path of training and equipment, training options are also varied and include some of the following (may be taught individually or in a small class environment):

  • Keyboarding Skills – effective touch typing skills are a foundation of access technology use
  • Computer software instruction using screen magnification, screen reading or a combination of both
  • Use of Video Magnification Systems (desk top, handheld or in conjunction with a computer system)
  • Internet Browsing and Website Use
  • Access and Reading materials in accessible formats
  • Use of scanning systems and software
  • Use of portable recording and listening systems
  • Use of smartphones and tablets (iOS or Android), including ‘best’ apps for blind access
  • Use of refreshable braille displays
  • Use of GPS devices

Spotlight Gateway: Low vision students referred by the American Academy of Ophthalmology will receive complimentary trainings in Spotlight Gateway, a new app designed specifically to expand access to digital reading materials for people with low vision. Select students who meet income and eyesight requirements will receive a complimentary Apple iPad loaded with Spotlight Gateway. This LightHouse will then train qualifying low vision students to instantly access over half a million books through Bookshare and read text with a whole new comfort level.

This program is a partnership with Lighthouse Guild, Benetech, VisionService Alliance, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Spotlight Text.

February 1, 2017: Ophthalmologists may begin registering students at the AAO website’s low vision rehabilitation page.

Mar. 1, 2017: Distribution program begins with tech trainings at LightHouse in San Francisco and Lighthouse Guild in New York City.

For more info on referrals, contact sblanks@lighthouse-sf.org.

Braille

Braille is not a fading form of communication. It is not only an essential means of writing and reading, but is one of the primary skills that is essential to successful education and employability.

The LightHouse is not only dedicated to teaching Braille, but also supports many businesses, schools and community agencies in ensuring that they have and maintain Braille access. Braille is everywhere in public venues, elevators, ATM’s, restaurants and more, it is a tactile reading and writing system that most anyone can learn (youth and adults) and the LightHouse teaches every day of the week.

Adult students of all ages can benefit from learning Braille for simple label writing and labeling and playing cards with friends and family, to learning contracted braille for notetaking and reading text books or documents or learning refreshable displays in tandem with computer use or smartphones.

To receive low vision or blind skills training, contact:

LightHouse Headquarters for San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area (including LightHouse of the East Bay): Debbie Bacon, Rehabilitation Counselor – dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org.

LightHouse of Marin, for Marin County: Jeff Carlson, Social Worker – jcarlson@lighthouse-sf.org.

LightHouse of the North Coast, for Humboldt and Del Norte Counties: Janet Pomerantz, Social Worker – jpomerantz@lighthouse-sf.org.

 

 

Deaf-Blind Programs

The Deaf-blind Program provides training, resources and support to persons who are both vision- and hearing-impaired. The goal of the program is to ensure that deaf-blind individuals have access to information, technology, and the skills needed to live independent and joyful lives.

Independent Living Skills Training

Training in activities of daily living is critical for deaf-blind individuals to maintain independence. Training includes meal preparation, shopping skills, labeling and organization skills and systems in the home and at work. Students will be given a multitude of examples of how accessible technology can be of use in daily activities.

Orientation and Mobility Training

Upon referral, LightHouse Orientation and Mobility instructors provide training to enhance an individual’s ability to travel independently and safely in their community.

Employment Access Program

This program for deaf-blind clients of the California Department of Rehabilitation assists individuals in developing skills to find and retain employment. The following areas are covered:

Pre-vocational Skills Assessment

Each program participant receives an assessment of his/her skills in activities of daily living, communication, job-readiness and access technology in order to determine what training would assist the participant in obtaining employment.

Communication skills training:

Includes training on a variety of specialized tools and systems, such as FM and other assistive-listening devices; tactile communication, such as Print on Palm and Tactile American Sign Language; telecommunication systems and assistive technology; and recruiting and working with certified interpreters and with Support Service Providers (SSP)

FCC Free Equipment Program

The LightHouse continues to provide telecommunication equipment and training to eligible deaf-blind Californians. In our initial three years of the FCC grant we’ve distributed over $1 million in free telecommunications devices to over 300 deaf-blind Californians. This means phone, email and other valuable ways to connect with friends, family and potential professional connections.

We have been able to provide a range of equipment depending on need and skills, for example: iPhones with Braille displays; computers with screen readers and noise canceling headsets to hear JAWs; assistance with upgrading software such as ZoomText or JAWS; or providing braille displays to folks who can no longer hear the speech on the screen reader, but can read email using a braille display.

To find out more about any of these programs, contact Sook Hee Choi, Deaf-Blind Specialist at schoi@LightHouse-sf.org. Read more about our Sook Hee and here accomplishments here.

Getting Started

What Does “Blind” Really Mean? Am I Blind? What about “Visually Impaired”?

Of the 285 million people in the world who are blind or have low vision, only a relatively small percentage have no light perception. For everyone else, blindness is a gradation. Some people see quite clearly, in certain light conditions. Others see only shapes and colors. For some, their field of vision is complex and hard to explain. The diversity of these extra functions is what makes blindness particularly confusing to the unacquainted observer. For those with changing vision, the daunting part is not usually the fear of darkness, but the fear of admitting that you’re different. The LightHouse is here to educate not only the public, but those blind individuals who don’t have prior familiarity with the experience of blindness about the immense potential, normalcy, and joy available to anyone living with differences in their eyesight. Even if you don’t think of yourself as “blind,” the LightHouse likely has something to offer you.

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

What Happens Here?

For starters, we’re not just “here,” we’re all over. With a beautiful, brand new high-rise headquarters in the heart of downtown San Francisco, we pride ourselves on offering the cutting edge of all things related to blindness. Whether you want to learn how to use your new iPhone, make the perfect omelette, travel across the country or learn how to access a half million books and newspapers, we’ve got a class and a trainer for you. On any given day, you’ll find students in SF training on accessible technology, engaging in mentoring and community-oriented projects and workshops, or getting out of the city to explore nature, go to conferences, or just go have fun.

Teens wearing athletic jerseys after playing sports

We make maps that you can read without your eyes, and we outfit world-class museums to ensure that everyone can enjoy them. At our historic camp and retreat in the rolling hills of Napa County, we offer science and math camps for blind kids, teach accessible horseback riding and music instruction, and host families and individuals of all ages and backgrounds. People come from all parts of California — and dozens of countries around the world —  to take advantage of what the LightHouse has to offer.

In addition to San Francisco and Napa, we offer regular classes of varying length and content in Eureka, San Rafael, and Berkeley. Each location has its own personality and service offerings, and people come from all around the state to take advantage of different curricula and instructors. When getting to know our programs, we can work with you to customize your experience based not only on where you live, but what you want to learn.

We also operate a sprawling light manufacturing plant in San Leandro where blind and sighted employees work together in various for-profit business ventures with an increasingly-expanded service base.

Interested in Receiving Services?

When you’re blind or have low vision, getting the services you need is not always an easy or intuitive process. And yet there are lots of ways to ensure that you get the training and information you need with as little headache and cost to you as possible. In California, we serve many working-age youth and adults through the California Department of Rehabilitation, which supports blind and low vision individuals who want to work. Individuals who apply for services through DOR can often benefit from our programs without charge and will be supplied needed equipment, fees for training and guidance. There is also funding available for Older Individuals who are Blind, and OIB funding often covers adults over the age of 55 who want to acquire skills to improve their lives. When it comes to funding and accommodations, this is just the beginning. The important thing to remember is that we can walk you through this process.

Call 415-694-7323 or email info@lighthouse-sf.org to join the thousands of people already benefiting from what the LightHouse has to offer.