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blindness

Join Sexual Health and Disability Advocates and Researchers for a Conversation on Sex, Intimacy and Disability

Join us at LightHouse for the Blind on January 12 at 6:30 p.m. for an open community discussion about sex and intimacy. Through this conversation, we hope to challenge the common misconception that having a disability diminishes one’s sexuality. This panel will create a safe place for people of all abilities to come together and proudly claim that having a disability is a natural and normal enhancement of the human experience.

Who: Members of disability communities and their loved ones, disability rights advocates and allies, members of the professional communities who serve the disabled (e.g. educators, health care professionals, social workers etc.), sexual health and disability scholars, and  anyone else who is interested. Must be 18+ years old to attend.

When: January 12, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.  

Where: LightHouse Headquarters, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103

Cost: Free to Attend.

This conversation is an opportunity to come together and discuss how we can challenge the harmful stereotypes and misunderstandings about disability, disability rights and sexuality. This panel features an incredible lineup of panelists who are all disabled. Many work and/or volunteer their time to promote and educate their communities to improve the sexual rights of individuals with disabilities. See a list of panelists and read their bios below.

Panelists will have the opportunity to share their own experiences, talk about their work and the topics they are passionate about. The remainder of the time will be allotted to and an audience Q&A to invite a community dialogue. We expect people from all walks of life to attend this event and for the conversation to cover a wide range of informative and educational topics. Please note that the conversation is adult in nature and so we are restricting the space to adults age 18 and over.

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to explore the impact of ableism on sexuality and the disabled. Come prepared to ask questions, and learn different ways to promote sexual freedom and expression as a human right for all people regardless of their abilities.

To register for this event please e-mail Laura Millar at lmillar@lighthouse-sf.org or call her at 415-694-7345.

Moderator

Laura Millar, MPH, M.A.

Laura Millar is LightHouse for the Blind’s Program Coordinator for Sexual Health Services. Legally blind herself with a Master of Public Health as well as a Masters in Sexuality Studies, she conducts research that examines how individuals with vision loss learn about and navigate the world of dating, sex and intimate relationships. Millar offers workshops, trainings and in-services for individuals who are blind or have low vision, their family members and the organizations that serve them, ensuring that sexual health information and services are comprehensive, inclusive and accessible for everyone.

Panelists

Rafe Eric Biggs, PhD

Rafe Eric Biggs, PhD, is the founder of Sexability, an organization committed to transforming sexuality and disability. He is a sexual health educator working with people with disabilities and healthcare professionals who support them. He earned his Masters and Doctorate in Organizational Psychology from Alliant International University and is a member of American Society of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (ASSECT).

In 2004 Biggs had a life altering experience. While traveling on spiritual retreat in India, he fell from a building and broke his neck. In an instant, he became a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down.

For the last decade he has counseled individuals and educated healthcare professionals on sexuality and disability including San Francisco State University, Alliant International University, UC Berkeley and Alta Bates Hospital. He started the Sexuality and Disability Support Group at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, CA.

Biggs was featured on the TLC show Strange Sex Surrogate Manhood. He is an expert on non-genital orgasms and has been featured in Huffington Post, The Sun, International Business Times, and Chat Magazine. He can be contacted at rafe@sexabilty.org and is based in Berkeley, CA.

Ligia Andrade (Zuniga), M.A. 

Ligia Andrade Zuniga, M.A., is dedicated to educating and empowering individuals living with disabilities on various aspects of independent living, particularly in the area of sexuality. She is a Director and Sexuality and Disability Educator for Sexability, an organization providing sexuality education to individuals with disabilities.

Andrade holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services with an emphasis in Administration and Counseling, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. She became interested in sexuality and disability seven and a half years ago after realizing there was very limited information, accessibility and support available regarding sexuality for quadriplegic women living with spinal cord injury, specifically for young women of color and women in the Latino Spanish-speaking community.

Andrade acquired a spinal cord injury in 2009 following an automobile accident and has since been actively and deeply involved in the community advocating for individuals with disabilities. She has been a peer supporter for seven years through the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Spinal Cord Injury Peer Support Program. For the past three years Andrade has served as a Commissioner for the San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities where she chairs the Legislation, Outreach, and Advocacy Committee, and is the Treasurer for the Board of Directors of the Center for Independence of Individuals with Disabilities (CID). She also chairs the San Mateo County Public Authority Advisory Committee, and also serves on the San Mateo County Cal-Medi Connect Advisory Committee. Ligia recently joined the United Spinal Association, where she co-chairs the Employment Committee on the Advocacy Alliance.

Alex Ghenis

Alex Ghenis is a long-time Berkeley resident, disability activist, researcher and educator. In his freshman year at UC Berkeley, Alex co-founded the “Are Cripples Screwed?” panel discussions with his close friend, Kash Moore, and has been speaking about sex and disability for the past 10 years since.

Ghenis was also the dating and relationship columnist “Axel Grande” for National Spinal Cord Injury Association’s Life in Action magazine, where he covered topics including meeting people and “getting physical.” His goal is to help people with disabilities have better understanding of our own sexuality – and educate the entire public so that we are viewed as sexy and worthy of love.

Kevin Mintz, Ph.D.

Kevin Todd Mintz is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Stanford University. He holds an AB in Government from Harvard College, an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Doctorate of Human Sexuality from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. His Ph.D. dissertation, Sex-Positive Political Theory: Pleasure, Power, Public Policy, and the Pursuit of Sexual Liberation, focuses on developing a justification for political institutions and civil society taking proactive roles in promoting sexual liberties.

His research interests include the application of sexology to political theory, LGBTQi activism and disability politics.

Senya Hawkins, M.A., MFTi

Senya Hawkins, M.A, MFTi, is a registered marriage and family therapist intern with a master’s degree in psychology. He currently works as the Assistant Director of Progress Foundation’s Supported Living Program. Hawkins’ areas of expertise include systems change social-psychology, vocational rehabilitation, gender and sexuality. He also facilitates groups and workshops on the topics of sex and disability, social and vocational skill building, diversity and managing disabilities in the workplace (www.senyahawkins.com). Hawkins is in the process of finishing his final exams for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

Hawkins is dedicated to demystifying sexuality and providing information about sex and gender to groups who are often under-educated on these subjects. His goal is to help increase accessibility in bedrooms and communities by encouraging communities to become more aware, more empathetic, more experienced and more knowledgeable about sexuality and gender.

Robin Wilson-Beattie

Robin Wilson-Beattie is a disability and sexuality health educator and writer, teaching the world to embrace and explore your sexuality,  regardless of ability. She is a member of the Association of American Sexual Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), the Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN),  and a certified graduate and member of the San Francisco Sexuality Information Training (SFSI).

Wilson-Beattie has been involved in sexuality education and awareness since high school. After acquiring a physical disability, she began speaking on sexuality and disability topics and issues in 2008. She consults with individuals and organizations on issues of adaptive sexual support, and has had written articles and curriculum on this subject. Wilson-Beattie is a nationally recognized self and systems disability advocate. She is a deep-fried Southern girl, Sex Geek, comic book nerd, mid-century buff and proud Mama of one amazing daughter. Find her on Twitter @SexAbled, or like sexAbled on Facebook.

Hear a New Blindness Story in This Week’s Pop-Up Magazine – Win Tickets

Win two tickets to Pop-Up Magazine at the Paramount Theater in Oakland this Thursday, November 10: email “Pop Up” to wbutler@lighthouse-sf.org.

When we started LightHouse Interpoint this spring, we had a vision of a literary magazine featuring stories by the world’s best blind writers. So far we’ve published work by world travelers, parents, professors, journalists, and regular blind people who have something interesting to say.

The LightHouse has always imagined Interpoint being bigger than just online essays, though, and this week we’re proud to announce that we have an Interpoint story, written and edited by blind people, going on tour with Pop-Up Magazine. The piece premiered at the Los Angeles Ace Hotel Theater on Thursday night to a massive audience response, and will be performed on all the stops of Pop-Up Magazine’s November tour, which means you can see it live in San Francisco, Oakland, Chicago, Boston, and Brooklyn.

Below find the full tour schedule and links to buy tickets. More about Pop-Up Magazine:

Called “a sensation” by the New York Times and referred to by the SF Chronicle as “Fast-paced, loose, often funny, and wholly unpredictable,” Pop Up Magazine is a signature San Francisco event which takes the live storytelling of radio programs like This American Life to the next level: in the form of a live, unrecorded show. With events that have sold out venues such as Davies Symphony Hall and the Greek Theater in Berkeley, Pop-Up presents the highest calibre of storytelling with all the excitement of a live concert. This month, our writers will be sharing the stage with the likes of Ira Glass, Gillian Jacobs, Joshua Bearman and Mallory Ortberg, among many others.

A huge thank you to Pop-Up Magazine for collaborating so closely with the LightHouse to develop yet another unique, untold story in the Interpoint series. See you at the theater!

Pop-Up Magazine, Dates and Tickets:

11/3 – THE THEATRE AT ACE HOTEL – Los Angeles

SOLD OUT

11/9 – NOURSE THEATER – San Francisco

SOLD OUT

11/10 – PARAMOUNT THEATRE – Oakland

BUY TICKETS

11/12 – HARRIS THEATER – Chicago

BUY TICKETS

11/15 – WILBUR THEATRE – Boston

BUY TICKETS

11/17 – KINGS THEATRE – Brooklyn

BUY TICKETS

Producer, LightHouse Media

POSITION:            Producer, LightHouse Media

REPORTS TO:                 Director of Communications

STATUS:                    Exempt

 

Founded in 1902, San Francisco’s LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired promotes the independence, equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or have low vision. We offer blindness skills training and relevant services such as access to employment, education, government, information, recreation, transportation and the environment. We also pursue the development of new technology, encourage innovation, and amplify the voices of blind individuals around the world.

JOB PURPOSE:

The LightHouse is seeking a media professional to edit and guide production of the LightHouse’s website, newsletters, social media, and overall online presence. This producer will serve as the LightHouse’s online voice, and community manager; informing, engaging and mobilizing our local and global audiences by publishing stories, announcements and useful information through our channels on a consistent and daily basis.

An editor-producer who can master the foundational tasks of copyediting, maintaining our website, email outreach and social media properties will find significant room for growth in our new Communications department as we pursue an ambitious slate of video, audio, and photo projects. Communications is a small, agile team where each individual is expected to think creatively, produce steadily, and be prepared to juggle deadlines.

 

QUALIFICATIONS:

Education or equivalent:  College degree in digital arts, design, journalism or a closely related field.  Four years of relevant work experience may be substituted for educational expectation.

Experience: Has been paid to write or tell stories; Can copyedit like a machine, or better; Can publish in WordPress and MailChimp; Can take edits and want to become an even better writer; Has a basic aptitude for Adobe Creative Cloud.

Other:  Obsessed with social media and its evolution; love podcasts and radio; willing to follow web accessibility best practices and official guidelines (read about WCAG); know the disability community – or if not, are fully prepared to research, get acquainted and interact; enjoy meeting people and talking to them; committed to supporting marginalized communities.

An ideal candidate might also:

  • Have a background in journalism, research and reporting
  • Be familiar with public relations / publicity
  • Know how to record and edit audio
  • Know how to record and edit video
  • Have a mind for advertising

 

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS:

Able to sit at a desk and perform computer-intensive work for long periods of time; operate standard office equipment; move 20lbs independently.

 

JOB ACCOUNTABILITIES:

On a daily basis, the Producer will:

  • Write, collect and edit LightHouse announcements
  • Copyedit all written work intended for public consumption
  • Maintain LightHouse newsletters and listservs
  • Interact on LightHouse and Enchanted Hills Camp social media: answer questions, engage people, and increase our following
  • Update and edit the LightHouse calendar
  • Check in with other LightHouse’s departments about new announcements and opportunities

In addition to the above duties, a qualified Producer may also:

  • Dream up new ideas for stories
  • Produce audio and video content
  • Crop and edit photos
  • Organize media assets
  • Improve the functionality and design of our WordPress site
  • Support and collaborate with LightHouse’s Creative and Brand Manager
  • Attend events

 

WORKING CONDITIONS:

LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is an equal opportunity employer to all.  We strive to maintain a scent-free environment and a drug-free workplace. We also operate under a mutual “employment at will” policy.

 

TO APPLY:

Please submit a cover letter and résumé as Word attachments (no .PDFs please), to hr@lighthouse-sf.org, including the job title in the subject line. Please include a link to any relevant clips or portfolio pieces. Due to time constraints we will only respond to complete submissions in which there is serious interest; thanks for your understanding.

Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist

POSITION:            Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist

REPORTS TO:                       Director of Rehabilitation Services

STATUS:                    Exempt

 

JOB PURPOSE:

The Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) is responsible for teaching orientation and mobility to blind, low-vision and deaf-blind adults & seniors from diverse backgrounds. In providing orientation and mobility instruction, the COMS will conduct assessments and provide training which reflects recent and progressive travel and orientation techniques and trends, focusing on student’s travel needs in the home, work and community.  The COMS must have the ability to assess and teach to differing skill levels, as well as to train on varied mobility devices and options such as;  monocular use, purpose-built GPS, BrailleNote GPS, Seeing eye GPS, BlindSquare, Google Maps, Audible Pedestrian Signals and the Lighthouse’s very own tactile maps of public streets, transit hubs, and public spaces.

Flexibility and ‘thinking outside the box’ is essential to this position.  The COMS must be able to work with and provide information and training to family and friends, community members, volunteers and service providers and effectively communicate and collaborate with referral agencies in providing services to shared students.  The duties of the COMS may include (but are not limited to): conducting of assessments, writing individual training plans with the student, and facilitating individual and group instruction as needed.  Orientation and mobility instruction may occur on-site, in the home, workplace or the student’s community, including travel on all forms of San Francisco Bay Area-wide public transportation and Paratransit.

The COMS must be flexible working throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area, including periodic week-long training from the LightHouse North Coast office in Eureka, and able to travel as far south as Monterey and Salinas. Additionally, week-long seminar training may happen up to four times per year at Enchanted Hills Camp and Retreat.  Training may occur in either urban or rural settings. The COMS may also be asked to teach and assess for urgent and basic daily living skills.  The COMS is a professional within the Lighthouse Rehabilitation Team, sharing resources, recommendations and referrals. 

 

QUALIFICATIONS:

Education or equivalent: Master’s Degree with specialty in Orientation and Mobility, & Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) Certified – OR – Minimum of a BA Degree in Rehabilitation Services; or a related degree with National Orientation and Mobility Certification (NOMC) from the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB).

Experience: A minimum of three years teaching Orientation and Mobility preferred   A history of teaching basic independent living skills (home-to-work skills) with adults and/ or seniors necessary.

Intern supervision experience preferred; the LightHouse works with San Francisco State University and the intention is to provide supervised intern placement within LightHouse on an annual basis.

Other: Fluency in a language other than English is very helpful. Multicultural teaching experience preferred; excellent verbal and written communication skills; strong interpersonal skills in order to relate to staff, blind and visually-impaired students, and persons in the community with varied backgrounds and viewpoints.

An ability to formulate individual, sequential training plans. Knowledge of Braille desired.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS:

Ability to teach in rain, cold, heat and other inclement conditions.

 

ACCOUNTABILITIES:

  • Assess individual needs of students and set goals for instruction.
  • Provide training under training shade as necessary or recommended.
  • Provide professionally-written student assessments, goal development, and training summaries / recommendations, on a monthly basis to all third-party contracting sources (such as the Department of Rehabilitation, Veterans Administration and Regional Center).
  • Maintain weekly and monthly database entries regarding units of service provided to students, along with notes, goal-planning and reports for all direct services provided.
  • Act as Agency liaison in traffic, community transportation services and auditory signal issues or projects as requested.
  • Provide cane travel, route travel with dog guide users & teams and human guide instruction.
  • Develop and create maps for students as necessary; provide training in the use of tactile maps.
  • Maintain updated information regarding Paratransit programs, providing registration assistance and training in the programs as necessary.
  • Participate in Agency public outreach and education as requested.
  • Provide orientation and route training in all environments and on various forms of public transit.
  • Assess for and teach basic and essential independent living skills to blind and low-vision students such as labeling, money organization, use of an ATM, and home safety practices.
  • Provide assessment and training in independent living strategies that impact personal safety.
  • Provide assessment and training in independent living strategies which provide choice and independence in completing tasks in the home, volunteer work and employment.
  • Facilitate or co-facilitate classes, including our Changing Visions, Changing Lives immersion cohort and community workshops.
  • Initiate outreach, training and collaboration with local universities and school’s disabled student programs, in providing campus orientation.
  • Conduct student home safety assessments and community agency environmental evaluations.
  • Provide consultation and/or training to staff in community agencies regarding environmental modifications and strategies in working with persons who are blind or low-vision.
  • Attend and participate in All-Staff meetings, monthly Consumer Review and departmental meetings (Rehabilitation Services).
  • Complete requisite documentation in a timely manner.
  • Ensure all publicity materials have first been approved by the Director of Rehabilitation Services.
  • Completely and accurately record student information in the proprietary LightHouse client database.
  • Complete monthly billing on a timely basis (by the first of each month).
  • Maintain timely communication and responses to clients (within 48 hours of referral).
  • Maintain professional communication via e-mail and voice mail on a timely and ongoing basis.

 

WORKING CONDITIONS: 

LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is an equal opportunity employer to all.  We strive to maintain a scent-free environment and a drug-free workplace. We also operate under a mutual “employment at will” policy.

 

TO APPLY:

Please submit a cover letter and résumé as Word attachments (no .PDFs please), to hr@lighthouse-sf.org, including the job title in the subject line. We will not consider videos or hyperlinks to online profiles. Due to time constraints we will only respond to complete submissions in which there is serious interest; thanks for your understanding.

How vs. Why: Advice from a Blind Filmmaker

 

LightHouse Interpoint is our new literary supplement, featuring written work by some of the world’s most interesting and engaged individuals who are blind or have low vision. Read our submission guidelines here.

The world of a visual storyteller is a world of promises and challenges: how to find the best shot; how to capture the best shot; how to get back to the studio without accidentally erasing the best shot. And as you can imagine, when people see my white cane, they want to know more than ever about these promises and challenges. Above all, they want to know, how do you do it?

What they don’t immediately understand is that I’ve had the good fortune to see some remarkable sights, from the sun rising over the white sands of a New Mexican desert to the moon over El Capitan. I’ve seen the joy on the face of a marathon runner breaking the tape at the finish line, and the anguish of a parent steering her child through another round of chemotherapy. I’ve been a reporter, a photographer, an editor and a filmmaker my whole life, and I can hardly remember a time where I’ve worked more than a few feet from the lens of a camera.

Michael Schwartz holds a camera

Beyond all the day-to-day challenges and promises of visual storytelling, though, filmmakers all face a more important question, the question of not how but why. I can weave those shots together, but why do it unless the story makes the viewer feel something? Continue reading How vs. Why: Advice from a Blind Filmmaker

Anthony Don’t: On Blindness and the Portrayal of Marie-Laure in ‘All The Light We Cannot See’

This is the third installment of A Month of Blind Women, presented by LightHouse Interpoint and The Toast. Interpoint is the new literary supplement from LightHouse for the Blind in San Francisco. Read previous essays at this link.

Cover Art: All The Light We Cannot See

By Sheri Wells-Jensen

 

When I think of All The Light We Cannot See, the latest, most popular portrayal of blindness, there are many scenes that run through my head. Here are two, summarized, for your consideration:

In 1940, under the imminent threat of German invasion, a middle-aged locksmith and his twelve-year-old blind daughter are fleeing Paris. Everything happens quickly and their escape is urgent. The locksmith is working furiously, but, short of running her hands over a toy model of the city, the blind daughter does nothing. Her father asks nothing of her except that she use the bathroom, and so she waits, passive as an upholstered chair, while he assembles their possessions, packs their food, then buttons her into her coat, and leads her out the door.

Why isn’t this adolescent girl participating in her own escape?

Four years later, the locksmith is drawing his now-sixteen-year-old daughter a bath, despite the fact that there is a decidedly maternal female character just downstairs. The locksmith washes his daughter’s hair, and she is docile as he explains that he is leaving. At the end of the bath he hands her a towel and helps her climb onto the tile.

Why is a middle-aged man bathing his sixteen-year-old daughter, even if he does step outside while she puts on her nightgown? Who is this girl? Is she the heroine or the victim of the story? Does she get to be both?

***

This helpless, sexless child is the blind girl who is one of the main characters of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, a book which first enraged me, then began to haunt me and fill me with a kind of appalled despair. The book has raised neither widespread outrage nor offense in most readers. People love it. It won a Pulitzer. Book clubs are gobbling it up. Every morning, on my way to work, I hear ads for it on my local NPR station. And every morning, I feel the same gut-deep sense of despair, a kind of a mental nausea, as Marie-Laure begins to slide into her place in the public consciousness as a reasonable representation of what it’s like to be blind. Continue reading Anthony Don’t: On Blindness and the Portrayal of Marie-Laure in ‘All The Light We Cannot See’

About

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired provides education, training, advocacy, and community for blind individuals in California and around the world. Founded and based in San Francisco since 1902, the LightHouse is one of the largest and most established comprehensive blindness organizations in North America, with a wide variety of programs to suit a wide variety of needs, as well as a rich network of blindness advocates and professionals.

LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, tax EIN 94-1415317.

Links

If you are blind or have low vision, and would like to benefit from our services, visit our programs page.

If you would like to support the LightHouse, visit our donate or volunteer pages.

If you are interested in our new headquarters at 1155 Market St. in San Francisco, visit our tours page.

To participate in our summer camp sessions, classes and workshops in Napa, visit our Enchanted Hills page.

For press inquiries or to read about LightHouse in the news, visit our press page.

For canes, technology, and other assistive devices at our store, visit our shop page.