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low vision

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)

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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.

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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.

 

Major LightHouse for the Blind Expansion to Serve the Blind and Visually Impaired of the East Bay

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Bryan Bashin, CEO
510.725.1549
bbashin@lighthouse-sf.org

Scott Blanks, Sr. Director, Programs
510.499.2362
sblanks@lighthouse-sf.org

(SAN FRANCISCO, CA) LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Northern California’s oldest and largest nonprofit serving the blind, today announced a major initiative to aid hundreds of East Bay blind and visually impaired students affected by the scheduled closure of the Oakland Lions Center for the Blind.

“This week we’re signing a long-term lease to quadruple the size of our Alameda County office, effective August 31, 2016, the announced date of the Lions Center closure” said LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin. Throughout its 114-year history the LightHouse, though headquartered in San Francisco, has served students mostly from the nine-county Bay Area outside of San Francisco proper. Recognizing the unmet needs in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, the LightHouse first opened a satellite office at Berkeley’s Ed Roberts Campus in 2011, providing employment, tech skills and mobility training. In 2014 the California Department of Rehabilitation awarded the LightHouse a key contract to serve older blind adults in Alameda County. Today’s announced expansion will allow the organization to support up to 30 teachers for working-age blind and visually impaired people in Alameda County, where most LightHouse students live.

The new Ed Roberts Campus training facility will complement the greatly expanded teaching capacity of LightHouse’s new 40,000 square-foot Market Street headquarters in San Francisco, opened just three months ago. The Ed Roberts Campus, built directly on top of Berkeley’s Ashby BART station, houses a renowned group of disability organizations in a safe and transit-friendly location. Nearly a dozen progressive disability organizations have discovered that the Ed Roberts campus is an ideal place to gather people with disabilities, and their friends and family.

Shortly after the Lions Center closes, the expanded LightHouse staff will take up the slack by teaching braille, adaptive computer skills, personal and home management, how to find employment and Orientation and Mobility to hundreds of students throughout the east bay.

“While we’re sorry the chaos around the Lions Center closure has affected several hundred blind students in the east bay,” Bashin said, “the new extra capacity of the LightHouse and its 100+ employees will provide them services and to fulfill our organization’s core mission to train and empower all of the region’s visually-impaired residents.

The LightHouse has chosen to announce its new expanded Berkeley office in advance of the Lions publicized closure to allow time for current Lions students to plan for a seamless continuation of their studies in September. Displaced blind students, rehabilitation counselors and concerned families can contact the LightHouse directly to arrange for uninterrupted training. Former students of the Lions Center for the Blind are welcome to continue their studies at any LightHouse facility. To make arrangements please contact LightHouse Rehabilitation Counselor Debbie Bacon at 415.694.7357, or email her at dbacon@LightHouse-sf.org.

About the LightHouse
LightHouse for the Blind is one of the nation’s strongest organizations serving the blind. With six locations throughout northern California, the LightHouse now serves 3,000 people annually. A vital community of innovation, mentorship and community since 1902, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is the place where people who are blind or have low vision come to learn skills and gain confidence. LightHouse staff, senior management and Board of Directors are either blind themselves or have significant professional experience in the blindness field, a unique strength of the organization for decades. LightHouse Employment Immersion program participants earn a collective $2.5 million annually, the most successful blindness employment program in California.

Next Mind’s Eye Therapy Group Series Starting in September

PHOTO: Rachel Longan

LightHouse for the Blind’s Counseling and Psychological Services program is offering the next Mind’s Eye therapy group beginning September 7. This group is intended for individuals who are moving forward in their lives with recent changes in their vision.  Group facilitator, Rachel Longan, has thoughtfully designed Mind’s Eye for adults who are navigating this very personal journey.

When: Wednesday mornings, from September 7 through November 16, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Where: The new LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, 94103

Sudden or actively progressive vision changes can affect many aspects of a person’s life. Group participants are able to process their experiences in a safe and understanding setting.

Ms. Longan incorporates a variety of techniques and experiential exercises into each session. Some of the topics the group is covering include new challenges in relationships, social participation, and emotional factors commonly associated with adjusting to vision changes.

Please be aware that this is not a drop-in group – there is a registration process and a nominal fee for participating in this group. People who are interested in enrolling in the group are urged to contact Ms. Longan at 415-694-7302 or email her at rlongan@lighthouse-sf.org.

About the Therapist
Rachel Longan has over 10 years of experience conducting support groups in a variety of settings.  Rachel herself has low vision and has designed and facilitated the Mind’s Eye group specifically for individuals experiencing recent changes in their vision.

Ms. Longan has guest lectured at the International Conference on Costello Syndrome and at UC Berkeley.  She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, conducts a parent group for the City of Berkeley, and has a private psychotherapy practice also in Berkeley.

Changing Vision Changing Life II – A New Addition to Our Immersion Training

PHOTO: Cooking Instructor Sydney Ferrario preps food with students.

Are you ready to kick your skills up a notch? We’ve added a brand-new session to our Changing Vision Changing Life Series of small group trainings: The Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) II Immersion.

This motivating six-day overnight session is designed for students who may have participated in CVCL instruction in the past and are now focused on practicing the skills they’ve learned in a more intensive and structured manner.

Note: You don’t need to have attended a previous CVCL session to attend this one. However, you need to have had some basic training in Orientation and Mobility, independent living skills and/or access technology.

This session is great for students who are currently training in all of the areas above and can benefit from multiple days of one-on-one and small group instruction.

In this session, students will work on all of the following:

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

Peer Group Support – Moving Forward
Advocacy – Taking Control
Orientation and Mobility Training 1:1
Introduction to Braille
Smart Cooking for Independence
Low Vision Training – Using your Tools to Your Benefit
Physical and Recreational Exploration to Enhance Mobility

When: This session will run from Sunday, September 18 (arrival at 3:30 p.m.) through Friday, September 23 (leave at 10:30 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 $1300 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.

To find out if this session is the best fit for you please contact Debbie Bacon at dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-357.

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.

We provide solutions to help you maintain your independence. From learning essential safe travel skills in your home and community to accessing your mail or favorite book, the LightHouse can accommodate any individual seeking to enhance self-reliance.

Our teachers will meet you at your level of readiness and desire to move forward. Every person has their own journey and pace for learning new skills. 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 Life 

Changing Vision, Changing Life (CVCL) is an introductory immersion program for adults who are newly blind or have experienced a change in vision. The program introduces basic and essential skills to live confidently at home and in the community. Topics include 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 introduces students to invaluable blindness or low vision training and techniques, the bigger purpose is to bring people together, learning and sharing experiences together. CVCL instinctively motivates students to study further and know the right choices for later. Many students who attend CVCL return to leading full, active lives while remaining enthusiastically engaged with the LightHouse.

Students need not live in the Bay Area to attend CVCL. 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 called Independent Living Skills or Daily Living Skills, are the essential skills you use in your daily routine. Your approach to these skills can change if your vision changes. Our team of skilled Certified Rehabilitation Specialist, Independent Living Skills and Kitchen Skills Teachers provide you the tips, strategies, simple modifications and tools to continue your routine at home, school or work. Many of these skills are transferable other areas of your life, for example, 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.

Work with your teacher to prioritize the most essential skills for your independent living and daily routine. Here are some of the areas we address:

  • 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

Braille

Braille, an accessible tactile reading and writing system, is essential to blind literacy. It is also crucial in pursuing education and employment.

The LightHouse is dedicated to teaching Braille, and offers individual sessions every day of the week. Our programs support businesses, schools and community agencies with the aim of providing and maintaining access to Braille.

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

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

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

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.

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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?

There are many 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.

Optometry Clinic

Schedule an Eye Appointment at the LightHouse Eye Center (links to UC Berkeley website)

The LightHouse, in partnership with the UC Berkeley School of Optometry, offers low vision examinations every week at our San Francisco office. This service includes an hour-and-a-half-long low vision evaluation by a board-certified low vision optometrist and a follow-up visit with a LightHouse Rehabilitation Training Specialist.

If you are unsure whether you are a candidate for a low vision exam, speak with your primary eye care professional or give us a call. Our staff will be happy to guide you through the process.

For more information or to schedule an exam, contact the UC Berkeley Optometry School at 510-642-5726, or for questions about low vision, email the LightHouse’s Debbie Bacon at dbacon@LightHouse-sf.org.

General Health Eye Appointments

The LightHouse Eye Center is a satellite clinic of the U.C. Berkeley School of Optometry located on the 10th Floor of the LightHouse Building in downtown San Francisco. The clinical staff includes a U.C. Berkeley School of Optometry graduate and residency trained doctors of optometry and senior optometry interns.

The clinic is located in our state-of-the-art building just adjacent to the Civic Center BART stop. With the same quality service and expertise found at UC Berkeley, the LightHouse Eye Center operates right in the heart of San Francisco, providing primary eye care such as glasses and contact lens prescriptions with thorough ocular health examinations as well as low vision services for the visually impaired. The eye clinic now serves both people with low vision and fully-sighted family members and friends, and anyone else interested in a regular optometric checkup.

With vision insurance, primary care eye exams typically cost between $10 and $20 copayment (Accepted providers include Blue Shield of California, Vision Service Plan, Eyemed, March Vision, Medi-Cal, Medicare). We do not have an optical center on site, but can order contact lenses and at the completion of your exam you will receive a copy of your prescription, which can be filled at your local optical retailer.

Call (510) 642-5726 or click here to schedule an appointment, and select “LIGHTHOUSE SAN FRANCISCO” as the exam type for online scheduling.

About Dr. Crystal Wang

Dr. Crystal Wang is originally from the Bay Area. She received her bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from University of California Berkeley and graduated from the University of California Berkeley School of Optometry in 2017. In optometry school, Dr. Wang received the Robert B. Greer Excellence in Low Vision Award, the Bill Mattingly Memorial Scholarship Award and the Curtis W. Keswick Alumni VA Residency Low Vision Award. Following graduation, Dr. Wang completed a low vision rehabilitation residency at the University of Houston College of Optometry where she received extensive training in low vision care. Dr. Wang enjoys providing compassionate care to low vision patients and those of all optometric needs.

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.

Fast Facts

Each year:

  • 650 of our students learn to use a white cane and other skills needed to stay active and independent.
  • 320 of our students get training in technology ranging from basic keyboarding skills to talking GPS and cell phone apps specifically for people who are blind.
  • 100 young people participate in our enrichment programs such as STEAM activities, job and college prep, and outdoor adventures.
  • 180 of our deaf-blind students learn skills like braille and receive accessible tech equipment.
  • 420 of our campers enjoy a quintessential camp experience at Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa.
  • 60 of our blind jobseekers gain skills needed for employment.
  • 1,300 blind people buy more than 5,000 low vision and blindness tools at Adaptations Store.
  • 650 of our volunteers give their time to further our mission.

Each month:

  • 100 people access support services such as counseling, support groups, information and referral and case management.
  • 50+ social and recreational activities engage people who are blind in a supportive community.
  • 10 tours and outreach events educate the community about our mission and services.

Each day:

  • People who are blind become part of the LightHouse community, take steps to maximize their independence, and advocate for themselves and others.

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.