Tag Archives: Cooking

Meet Penny Melville-Brown: Blind Baker and Holman Prizewinner

The LightHouse for the Blind announces Penny Melville-Brown of “Baking Blind” as one of the first three winners of the Holman Prize.

British Royal Navy veteran Penny Melville-Brown is not your average chef. First of all, she is, in fact, blind. But beyond that, Penny has a deep and unique understanding of food’s ability to break down cultural barriers and to connect people – blind and sighted alike – across the globe.

Today, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco announces Penny as one of three winners of the 2017 Holman Prize for Blind Ambition, a brand-new award for blind adventurers of all kinds.

Penny preps food wearing an apron in the kitchen

“While food is a mainstay across the media and popular culture, it is almost impossible to find any inclusion of visually impaired people,” Penny says.  With her Holman Prize project, Penny hopes to change that.

With the $25,000 Holman Prize, Penny will travel to Costa Rica, Malawi, Australia, China and the United States, all over the course of a year. Along the way, she will meet chefs, teach blind people and community leaders the techniques and panache of blind baking, and film these encounters to ensure that people change their assumptions about the capabilities of blind chefs.

Equal parts travelogue and instructional video series, Penny’s video blog will teach all of us, sighted or otherwise, something new about the art of cooking.

Penny dishes up some food in the kitchen, smilingPenny also has a special connection with the namesake of the Holman Prize, James Holman, a 19th Century world traveler known as the first blind man to circumnavigate the globe. Both became blind while serving in the British Royal Navy (albeit nearly 200 years apart). Now, like Holman, Penny will take off around the world, crossing multiple continents to teach others about the capabilities of those with disabilities.

Penny is one of three inaugural winners of the Holman Prize. Her fellow prizewinners, Ahmet Ustunel and Ojok Simon, hail from the US and Uganda respectively, and also have ambitious adventures planned over a range of geographies and subjects. Ustunel is planning a solo kayak journey from Europe to Asia, while Simon is planning to build out a blind-led social enterprise for beekeepers in Uganda.

They will all meet at the Lighthouse in San Francisco in September.

Penny began hosting and producing regular video segments this year for a program she calls “Baking Blind”. She takes pride in her collaborations, which will only grow with the help of The Holman Prize. A YouTube original, she can be seen in her videos making everything from apple tarts to lamb tajines and quail eggs in soy sauce.

Read about all three Holman Prize winners in-depth.

Holman Honorees: Meet the 2017 finalists.

Meet the blind judges who picked the winners.

Support The Holman Prize

The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, is actively seeking sponsorships and support for the 2018 Holman Prize, including donations of equipment for the winner’s projects. To offer your support, contact holman@lighthouse-sf.org. Individuals may donate any amount using LightHouse’s secure form. For sponsorship inquiries, email us or call +1 (415) 694-7333.

 

For press inquiries, email press@lighthouse-sf.org.

 

Get Your Hands Dirty in the LightHouse Teaching Kitchen this Month

If you walk into the LightHouse teaching kitchen on any given day, you’ll find our Cooking Instructor Sydney Ferrario cheerfully bustling around the kitchen, hoisting giant tubs of flour or dicing mounds of plump vegetables. We’ve seen (and tasted) a lot of gourmet concoctions from the LightHouse kitchen thanks to Sydney’s patient guidance.

Not only is she lively, informative, and knows her way around a stand mixer, but she also has plenty of adaptive techniques for cooking and baking to share with her students. She’ll show you that there’s nothing to fear about the kitchen, the oven, or even chopping unwieldy apples with a very sharp knife (hint: it’s all about curling the fingers away from the sharp blade), and is even better doing it in a gorgeous kitchen you can get with the right kitchen design tunbridge wells from different contractors in the UK.

Here are some photos from Sydney’s ‘What’s the Scoop? Measure and Mix Cooking Class’. She had a lovely one-on-one with Jane Flower who is Outreach Manager at Guide Dogs for the Blind. Sydney walked Jane through tips for measuring, mixing, chopping and kneading dough to create a warm and flaky apple pastry. Take a moment to check out some shots from the class — and take a look at our upcoming schedule of cooking classes at the LightHouse in March.

Orientation to the Kitchen – March 7 and 9

What’s the Scoop? Measure and Mix – March 14 and 16

On the Edge: Knife Skills – March 21 and 23

The Heat is On! Oven and Stovetop Strategies – March 28 and 30

Learn more about these sessions and sign up.

All participants must be registered students of the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. To enroll as a LightHouse student, please contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org. If you have questions about class content please contact Sydney Ferrario, Instructor, at 415-694-7612 or sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org.

Cooking student Jane Flower cubes butter in the LightHouse Teaching Kitchen.
Cooking student Jane Flower cubes butter in the LightHouse Teaching Kitchen.
Sydney guides Jane's hand over the top of a tin measuring cup to level out the amount of flour.
Sydney guides Jane’s hand over the top of a tin measuring cup to level out the amount of flour.
Jane scoops baking soda and uses her fingertip to feel how full the measuring scoop is.
Jane scoops baking soda and uses her fingertip to feel how full the measuring scoop is.
Jane smiles while Sydney explains a technique for mixing.
Jane smiles while Sydney explains a technique for mixing.
Jane closes her eyes while peeling an apple to feel how much of the apple she has peeled. She slowly turns the apple while peeling strips of skin away from her.
Jane closes her eyes while peeling an apple to feel how much of the apple she has peeled. She slowly turns the apple while peeling strips of skin away from her.
Sydney guides Jane's hands while using a sharp knife to thinly and evenly slice apples. The trick is always curling your fingers away from the knife.
Sydney guides Jane’s hands while using a sharp knife to thinly and evenly slice apples. The trick is always curling your fingers away from the knife.
Jane and Sydney knead pastry dough side by side.
Jane and Sydney knead pastry dough side by side.
Sydney guides Jane's hands along a wooden rolling pin over a hefty ball of pastry dough.
Sydney guides Jane’s hands along a wooden rolling pin over a hefty ball of pastry dough.
Jane and Sydney laugh while leaning over a tray of apple pastries. The dough is spread flat with thin apple slices arranged tidily in the center. They are ready to start folding the dough around the apples.
Jane and Sydney laugh while leaning over a tray of apple pastries. The dough is spread flat with thin apple slices arranged tidily in the center. They are ready to start folding the dough around the apples.
A closeup of Sydney and Jane's hands as they fold the pastry dough around the fresh apple filling.
A closeup of Sydney and Jane’s hands as they fold the pastry dough around the fresh apple filling.
The perfectly prepared pastries are ready to go in the oven.
The perfectly prepared pastries are ready to go in the oven.
Sydney and Jane use a wooden toothpick to test the fresh-out-of-the-oven pastries.
Sydney and Jane use a wooden toothpick to test the fresh-out-of-the-oven pastries.
The finished pastry is golden and flakey with a cinnamon apple filling peaking out of its circular center.
The finished pastry is golden and flakey with a cinnamon apple filling peaking out of its circular center. Ta da!

New Cooking Classes at the LightHouse — from Knife Skills to Measuring and Mixing

It’s 2017 and we’ve cooked up a whole host of new culinary classes at the LightHouse for the new year.

Learn more about each session below and see a schedule of our upcoming classes. If you have questions about class content please contact Sydney Ferrario, Instructor, at 415-694-7612 or sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org.

Orientation to the Kitchen 

Designed for beginning home cooks and those new to blindness or low vision.

Session I – January 3 and 5

Session II – February 7 and 9

Session III – March 7 and 9

Each session takes place on Tuesday and Thursday of the scheduled week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Designed specifically for people who have been out of the kitchen due to a change of vision and need a fresh start to feel comfortable in the kitchen and begin cooking – this class will help you get back in the kitchen with confidence!  In these classes, students will learn new ways of labeling, organization, safe work strategies and so much more! Included is a brief technology component and demonstration for recipe access.

Come prepared to try new ideas and practice the following skills:

  • Safer work strategies
  • Greater awareness of tactile, auditory, olfactory and gustatory skills
  • Organization and labeling in the pantry and refrigerator
  • Develop sensory and spatial awareness
  • Discover and explore various tools and technologies
  • Effective and Efficient cleaning

What’s the Scoop? Measure and Mix

Designed for beginning and intermediate home cooks and those new to blindness or low vision.

Session I – January  10 and 12

Session II – February 14 and 16

Session III – March 14 and 16

Each session takes place on Tuesday and Thursday of the scheduled week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Learn and practice measuring with confidence!  In the Lighthouse teaching kitchen we will explore techniques for measuring both liquids and dry ingredients in both large and small quantities. While all are welcome, this course is especially designed with the baker in mind, and we will measure those tricky things like brown sugar, flour, flavorings and oils as well as common conversions and strategies for tricky ingredients.

Come prepared to try new ideas and practice the following skills:

  • Avoiding spills, working in an orderly and tidy fashion
  • Time worn techniques with common household equipment
  • Explore new gadgets and technologies
  • Mixing, blending, beating, whisking, folding, stirring and more

On The Edge – Knife Skills

Designed for beginning and intermediate home cooks and those new to blindness or low vision.

Session I  – January  17 and 19

Session II  – February 21 and 23

Session III –  March  21 and 23

Each session takes place on Tuesday and Thursday of the scheduled week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

With an emphasis on safety and organizational work strategies, students learn and practice knife skills on a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Are you planning to eat healthier after the holidays?  Sharpen your knife skills and practice techniques for even sizes while protecting your fingers!  Tuesday we prep everything for a soup and salad and on Thursday we will throw it all together for a nourishing and healthy meal.

Come prepared to try new ideas and practice the following skills:

  • Holding and manipulating various knives, graters and other sharp gadgets
  • Hands-on guidance and practice mincing, slicing, dicing, chopping, and peeling, among others
  • Deciding which tool is best for the job and why
  • Safer work strategies, building on tactile and sensory awareness

Great cooking is not about recipes – it’s about skill and technique!

There are three sessions of the same course, each with a different menu to be determined based on seasonal availability.  Students may wish to enroll in any one session or all three.

The Heat Is On! Oven and Stovetop Strategies

Designed for beginning and intermediate home cooks who wish to gain a greater comfort level working with their gas or electric ovens and ranges.

Session I  – January  24 and 26

Session II  – February 28 and March 2

Session III –  March  28 and 30

Each session takes place on Tuesday and Thursday of the scheduled week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Cook on your home oven and stovetop with ease and safety.  Learn and practice strategies for setting up and cooking with the oven and stovetop which includes spatial awareness skills, setting up with the proper equipment and creating new habits.

Come prepared to try new ideas and practice the following skills:

  • Safer work strategies and Injury prevention
  • Systems, patterns, portioning and spatial awareness
  • Heat control, thermometers, timers, testing for done
  • Sautéing, stirring and turning
  • Using assistive technology

All classes are  $220.00* per session  and meet in Room 1010 in 10th Floor Kitchen of the LightHouse Headquarters at 1155 Market Street.  Class is 4 hours with a short break. Bring a bag lunch the first day. You will be standing, cooking and working for most of the class. Please wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes and have long hair tied back.

*Each Class Session includes two classes for four hours (9:30-1:30).  The full class fee is $220 for persons 18-54.  For those persons who are 55 and older living in the counties of Alameda, San Francisco and Marin (and not a consumer with the Department of Rehabilitation or VA) the class fee is waived thanks to the State of CA Older Individuals Who are Blind (OIB) grant funding.  Student may be asked to bring in class materials, the instructor will notify if this is necessary.

All participants must be registered students of the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. To enroll as a LightHouse student, please contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org. If you have questions about class content please contact Sydney Ferrario, Instructor, at 415-694-7612 or sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org.

As a division of the Independent Living Skills Program, culinary classes provide cooking lessons for the home cook with an emphasis on blind kitchen skills, including, but not limited to, orientation, organization, knife skills, measuring, food safety, and navigating the oven and stove top safely. Also included is a recipe access component for interpreting and replacing visual cooking terminology with cues for taste, touch and smell. The goal is to provide guided practice so students can replicate skills at home.

Note about ingredients: LightHouse recipes use common cooking and baking ingredients including various fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, spices, dairy, eggs, wheat flours, etc. If you have a food allergy, please check with the instructor before attending the class. Adjustments to recipes cannot be made during class.

Special Dietary Needs?  For those with special dietary needs or allergies, please contact Sydney Ferrario at 415-694-7612 to discuss how we can help you with a customized program and recipes. Her background includes Wheat, Gluten, & Dairy-Free cooking and cooking for those with Diabetes.

Know Someone With Changing Vision? Our Next Immersion Training Sessions are Coming Up

Photo: Class Picture of the September CVCL Immersion Training Session 2 Class

Fall is a time for harvest and abundance. Over the past four years, 250 students have harvested their skills and received an abundance of support, opportunities to connect and a rich introduction to skills ranging from accessing print, learning about technology to organizing their households and traveling independently.

Holli Clark of Santa Cruz County has participated in both sessions and had this to say about her experience:

“Just a note to share my big thanks for the wonderful Immersion experience! One of my big reasons for wanting to go for Immersion training was because I just didn’t know what I didn’t know. I figured there were better ways of doing things than I had made up over the years. I was certainly correct in that, and am delighted to be learning many new skills. This translates to being more productive, efficient, confident, independent and safer. [The] week was packed with immeasurable value. I learned so much from each trainer and really appreciated your focus on scheduling us according to individual needs…Your staff are both exceptional trainers in their fields as well as wonderful, caring people.”

Sydney and Holli

Photo: Cooking Instructor Sydney Ferrario and CVCL student Holli Clark stand together in the Betty Ruhland Teaching Kitchen at the LightHouse

 We’re offering one last CVCL session before year’s end, and another in February. Details on both follow:

December Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) Immersion Training Session 2
This session is facilitated from the new LightHouse Building in the heart of San Francisco.  The focus of this week’s training is “boots hit the ground in training”. Students participating in this week must have already received basic skills training in orientation and mobility, access technology or independent living and must be committed to focusing intently in all three of these skill areas in a small group and individual learning environment. (Please note: students do not need to have attended a previous CVCL session to attend CVCL 2 in San Francisco.)

This five day session is designed for students who are committed to full days of instruction, homework and practice in the evening and will take full advantage of the professional training time, mentoring and peer support and self-study that will be available.

Students will participate in a minimum of three of the following areas:

  1. Access Technology, including:
  • Computer training (Mac or PC) – using the software you are currently learning
  • Smart Phone Training – Apple or Android
  • Tablet Training – Apple or Android
  1. Orientation and Mobility Training 1:1
  2. Introduction to Braille
  3. Smart Cooking for Independence
  4. Low Vision Training – Using your Tools to Your Benefit
  5. Independent living skills

When: CVCL 2 will run from Monday, December 5th (arrival at 9:30 a.m. – training starts at 10:00 a.m.) through Friday, December 9 (leave at 11:00 a.m.)

Where: The session will be held in our headquarters building at 1155 Market St., 10th Floor in San Francisco. Participants will stay overnight throughout the week in our Student Residences.

Cost: There is a $1,300 fee for this training but you may qualify for partial or full scholarship if you are not already working with the Department of Rehabilitation or the Veterans Administration. It is highly recommended that all students have a solution for taking notes, such as the Victor Reader Stream (training will be provided in how to use this recording device)

***

February Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion Training Session 1
This session is held at Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa and is specifically geared for students new to blindness and low vision. For five days, up to 14 adult students have the opportunity to develop basic skills in a range of areas – access technology; orientation and mobility; organization and labeling; magnification and lighting; cooking; braille and community, state and national resources.

The week is full, active, emotional and supportive and students are given the opportunity to meet others, to harvest their own skills and determine the direction of the quality of their lives. There are three scholarship openings for persons 55 and better living in Humboldt, Del Norte, San Francisco, Marin or Alameda County who are not consumers of the Department of Rehabilitation or the VA. For those who are consumers of the Department of Rehabilitation, we encourage you to discuss this opportunity with your counselor.

When: CVCL I will run from February 6th – 10th.

Where: The session will be held in at Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa. Participants will stay overnight throughout the week in our lakeside lodgings. Transportation is available from San Francisco, Berkeley and Marin County.

Cost: There is a $1,300 fee for this training but you may qualify for partial or full scholarship if you are not already working with the Department of Rehabilitation or the Veterans Administration.

***

For More Information, to Register for Session 1 or Session 2, or if you have questions, please contact Debbie Bacon at dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7357 in San Francisco; Jeff Carlson at jcarlson@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-258-8496 in Marin County or Janet Pomerantz at jpomerantz@lighthouse-sf.org or 707-268-5646 in Humboldt County.

 

Pie for the Season Workshop (two-day course)

Photo: Ingredients for apple pie are assembled on a counter.

Tired of those warehouse pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving? Make it yourself! Learn to make a holiday pie from scratch, yes, including the crust! Designed for the intermediate home cook, students will practice measuring skills, and learn the basics of pastry dough, including proper pastry mixing techniques, rolling and fitting to a pie dish.

When: Wednesday, November 16 and Thursday, November 17, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (bring a bag lunch)
Where: the LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th floor, San Francisco, 94103
Fee:  $60 includes all food supplies
Space is limited to 5 students per class.

Prior baking experience is not required for this class, however, good basic cooking skills and comfort in the kitchen are required. Students must be able to participate on both days as dough will be made the first day and filling and baking will be done the second day.

Recipes planned are an Apple Double Crust and a Sweet Potato Pie, depending on ingredient availability. Please bring your own 9-inch pie tins or glass pie baking dishes so that you can bring your pies home.

If you are a current student at the LightHouse, register for this class with Sydney Ferrario at sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org. If you are new to the LightHouse, please contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org. Please let us know at the time of registration if you have special dietary needs or food allergies so that we may accommodate recipes as much as possible.

BEST Classes for Youth on Saturday, October 15, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Photo: Jamey Gump teaches during last year’s Youth Cooking Class.

Who: Youth who are blind or have low vision, ages 8 to 18
When:  From 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month (upcoming class dates are October 15, November 19 and December 17)
Where: The 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 low vision and blind youth
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.

Blind Youth to Battle it Out During Iron Chef of the LightHouse Cooking Class, 10:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Learn how to cook while having fun with a series of Iron Chef-type competitions.
More about Iron Chef at the LightHouse.

 LightHouse BEST Challenge, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
In the BEST Challenge, students participate in a two-hour course of challenges meant to encourage team-building, introduce them to new techniques and reinforce those they use daily. The course will incorporate a variety of independent living skills, from adaptive technology to Orientation & Mobility.

Tactile Painting, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.
This session will have our BEST students expressing themselves through art. Students will have a spooky good time creating Halloween themed tactile paintings, under the guidance of Enchanted Hills Art Area Leader Julie Cabrera.

Since our class is two weeks before Halloween students will not be carving pumpkins, however they are welcome to bring one from home to decorate with the tactile materials provided.

Autumn Kitchen Basics Class

Left to right: Janeen Rockwell-Owens, Gail McGaster, Victoria Hahn, Instructor Sydney Ferrario, Holli Clark work on two acorn squash soups.

Sweater-season is approaching, and an appetite for heartier meals beckons us inside and to the kitchen. Using a variety of tasty and interesting recipes for soups, one-pot meals, sauces, entrees and desserts, in this class, beginning October 11, you’ll learn cooking strategies with an emphasis on non-visual (tactile, auditory, olfactory and gustatory) techniques and create healthy, cost-effective and delicious meals.

Who: This course is designed for the beginner and intermediate level home cook.
When: October 11 through November 3. These eight class sessions occur every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Where: The LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, 94103
Cost: The class fee is $600.00. Those persons who are 55 and older, not a consumer of the Department of Rehabilitation and living in the counties of San Francisco, Marin or Alameda counties may be eligible for scholarship.
There is a materials fee of $50 for all students.
Space is limited to 5 students per class.

In this class we’ll use a variety of tasty and interesting recipes for fall soups, one-pot meals, sauces, entrees and desserts. Students will have the chance to learn, develop and practice kitchen skills such as:

  • Knife skills, safety strategies and professional level techniques
  • Measuring wet/dry ingredients confidently and accurately
  • Organization and labeling ideas for your kitchen, including setting up your workspace and cleaning strategies/techniques
  • Navigating oven and stovetops and testing for done-ness
  • Easy ingredient swaps for dairy/wheat-free diets, and how to boost nutrition

There will also be a technology overlap where students will practice accessing recipes via smartphone, Victor Reader Stream, or CCTV.

If you are a current student at the LightHouse, contact Sydney Ferrario to register for this class, at sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org.

If you are new to the LightHouse, please contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org. Please let us know at the time of registration if you have special dietary needs or food allergies so that we may accommodate recipes as much as possible.

First Weeklong Immersion Class Pioneers Intensive Blindness Introduction in our New Building

In June we launched the fourth year of the Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) Immersion Training program at our new Headquarters offices at 1155 Market Street in San Francisco.

Gaining an 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.

Join us! We have several Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) Immersion Training scheduled this summer 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.

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

Jorge Ellington

Student Jorge Ellington arranges his legs into a pretzel-like formation during morning yoga in our new fitness studio during the Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion.

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.

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.

You can’t learn everything about blindness or low vision in a single week. But you’ll emerge hungry for more, understanding why you’ll need to put in the effort required to excel in many nonvisual aspects of life. And you’ll have a whole lot of fun and friendship along the way.

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.

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 among the very first classes in our new building. Interested? Contact LightHouse staff in San Francisco, San Rafael or Eureka:

Our New Training Kitchen is Open and We’re Looking for “Home Chefs” to Train

LightHouse Instructor Sydney Ferrario stands at the prep table in our new training kitchenWe are very excited to get you cooking in our new training kitchen at the new LightHouse. We have four cook tops and ovens (two gas, two electric); a spacious work island for training, two dishwashers, three sinks and a lot of excitement and energy to give you the skills to feel comfortable and confident in your own kitchen.

Three Kitchen Basics Classes will be offered between June 7th and August 11th. Here you will learn the following skills to transfer to your own kitchen:

  • Knife skills
  • measuring wet/dry ingredients
  • organization and labeling ideas for your kitchen
  • non-visual (tactile, auditory, olfactory and gustatory) cooking strategies to create healthy, simple, cost effective and delicious meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) to get you through your day and work week

Summertime in San Francisco brings a wonderful abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit and our new headquarters is located directly across the street from the Civic Center Farmer’s Market which operates on Wednesdays. We’ve included an opportunity to join us at the Wednesday Market for some shopping fun, and then later learn ways to maximize this bounty including best ways to freeze vegetables for later use.

Cooking Basics #1 – June 7 – June 23 (Deadline for sign-up is June 6th, space permitting )
Every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 – 1:30
*Option to join in on Wednesday Farmers Market @ 2:30 to shop for Thursday Cooking

Cooking Basics Class #2 – June 28 – July 14 (Deadline for sign-up is June 27, space permitting)
Every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 – 1:30
*Option to join in on Wednesday Farmers Market @ 2:30 to shop for Thursday Cooking

Cooking Basics Class #3 – July 26 – August 11 (Deadline for sign-up is July 25, space permitting)
Every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 – 1:30
*Option to join in on Wednesday Farmers Market @ 2:30 to shop for Thursday Cooking

Each Class Session includes six classes for four hours (9:30-1:30).  There is a materials fee of $30 for all students.  Class fee is $450 for persons 18-54.  For those persons who are 55 and older, the class fee is provided thanks to the State of CA Older Individuals Who are Blind grant funding.

Contact Debbie Bacon to register for one of the three classes offered.  Space is limited, so sign up fast. Debbie Bacon can be contacted at 415-694-7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org. Please let Debbie know at the time of registration if you have special dietary needs so that we may accommodate recipes as much as possible.

LightHouse Youth Program – Blind Kids are Doing it for Themselves

Students in our Cooking 101 class, mixing bowls at the ready, stand at their counters waiting to put a recipe together.What are a handful of motivated young blind people doing at the LightHouse early on a Saturday? The LightHouse Youth Program provides programming all year for energized youth who are blind or have low vision. One Saturday last month, the day went something like this:

Starting in the morning, LightHouse Volunteer Robin Patche led that week’s edition of Cooking 101. In this class we aim to teach young blind people how to be competent and confident in the kitchen. On the day’s agenda – how to make simple snacks such as smoothies, trail mix and cheese crackers, using accessible measuring cups, spoons and other cooking tools. Kitchen safety and sanitation were also incorporated into the discussion.

Next up, artist Ruthie Campbell Miller led the young people in an art project that had them using tissue paper to create tactile “paintings”. Why do young blind people benefit from art classes? Youth Program Coordinator Jamey Gump, who has low vision himself, told us, “We’re glad to have been able to offer an art class to the Youth Program and plan to reboot it in the fall. The more exposure students have to experience art their own way, the more they extend this sense of space to exploring and learning about their environment. Creating art can improve a blind person’s spatial acuity which in turn helps improve their ability to travel and to organize their environment.”

In the afternoon, Wells Fargo Personal Banker Nina Toia gave a presentation on how to successfully manage one’s money, including how to create a budget, what a credit score is and how to build credit. She answered both basic and complex questions and led a lively discussion on how the way in which we value the things we purchase can affect our budget.

An important aspect of our classes is introducing our younger blind students to blind college-aged mentors. This particular Saturday ended with a training session for the mentors. Jamey led a discussion about the best ways to make activities enjoyed by entire families work for both the sighted members and the members who are blind or have low vision.

Mentor Nasir, with a big grin on his face, practices how to roll an Oreo cookie from the forehead to the mouth without using ones hands.

Our Youth Program Fills a Great Need
A lot of times young people who are blind may not know anyone in their neighborhood or school system who is blind. While all of our Youth programming promotes the independence, camaraderie and creativity while having fun, perhaps the most important aspect of these gatherings is providing them with the opportunity to meet other blind young people. Likewise, a side benefit to the gatherings is that the parents who bring their kids to these classes and field trips also get the chance to meet other parents of blind youth and exchange advice and solutions about the various challenges they may face.

We plan on having new cooking and art classes for youth in the fall, so stay tuned. To sign up for our Youth Events e-newsletter or for more information about our Youth programs, contact LightHouse Youth Coordinator Jamey Gump at jgump@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7372.