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Market Street

Behind the Map: A midwesterner meets Market Street

In January, LightHouse started offering TMAP — on-demand tactile street maps — for order at our Adaptations Store (1-888-400-8933). We have been hearing some amazing stories about how our maps are being used, so we wanted to share them with our mapping community. Order yours today by calling 1-888-400-8933.

When Sheri Wells-Jensen was a child, she got one book per week. That was how it worked, for a blind kid – a braille reader – who relied on braille lending libraries. Each week, Sheri would bound out of her front door, crashing through her front yard and into the mailman’s truck, to get her hands on one new book. Now a linguistics professor at Bowling Green State University, access to language and information has become a passion of Sheri’s, as well as other cool things like aliens and ukuleles.

A portrait shot of Sheri Wells-Jensen.She also loves exploring cities. Depending on how you see it, Market Street in San Francisco can feel like a boulevard of first-world efficiency or a medieval circus. At times, it feels like both at once. This wild, eclectic fusion can be intimidating for some, but this crazy hubbub is what Sheri loves most about visiting the city by the bay. On a recent trip, we had the pleasure of printing out her first-ever TMAP.

It was right before she was taking off to catch the bus back to her hotel. The bus stop was a few blocks away and Sheri, her own most cheerful but fierce advocate, exclaimed when we told her we had a tool to help her learn the neighborhood in just a few minutes – and that it was something she could bring with her, should she get lost or just want to explore.

image 1: A TMAP of the neighborhood around 1155 Market Street, marked by large print labelsimage 2: a TMAP of the neighborhood around 1155 Market Street, marked by braille labels

“Having an accurate,accessible,hard copy map to explore saves endless frustration,” Sheri says. “It changes the rules of the game: without the map, I get directions and learn a route, hoping to fill in details later on. With the map, I learn the neighborhood and then decide how I want to get to my destination.”

Holding her TMAP in front of her, pressed against her torso as she inspected the braille labels and learned the many swerving diagonals of the area, it was impossible not to feel the infectious sense of  satisfaction that comes from unlocking so much knowledge with such ease – especially for a kid who grew up on only one book at a time.

As Sheri sees it, maps and tactile aids are a crucial tool for anyone who needs access to information. And when she wants to learn an area, she thinks it’s better than talking. “I basically have two choices,” she explains. “I can sit some poor unsuspecting fellow down and grill him relentlessly about every intersection and every street name (most of which he won’t remember) – or – with a map in my hands, I can transfer the whole picture of the area straight into my head, thereby saving time and preserving my friendships.”

You can listen to Sheri talk about braille love letters and why braille is worth fighting for in a recent episode of The World in Words on PRI, entitled “Will blind people use Braille in the future?”.

Get your TMAP today

To order a map, call our product specialists at 1-888-400-8933 and specify the street address of the map you’re interested in receiving. Within two business days we’ll ship you your map, or make it available for pick up at the Adaptations Store (1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, CA). Each TMAP package is $19.99 per address.

What’s in the package?

  • You will receive 3 map versions printed at simple, moderate and dense map scale ratios
  • A tactile map key
  • An introductory page
  • All materials are printed on 11” X 11.5” sheets of embossed paper and include ink / large print labels in addition to braille

Click here to learn more more about TMAP.

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#BeSeen: March in PRIDE with LightHouse, Get a Free T-Shirt

It’s Pride month, and here at LightHouse, our staff, students and allies are walking around the city, exploring exciting new ideas, and continuing to build the confidence and self-esteem of those in our community. We’re also thinking, from a blindness perspective, more than ever about what it really means to “be seen.”

At its heart, Pride is about proudly and publicly claiming an identity that society has consistently stigmatized or disregarded. We’re marching on June 25 in celebration of our LGBTQ community members, and to honor our many intersecting identities. People with disabilities are often either stripped of sexuality, or fetishized. This year we’re grabbing our canes, our guide dogs and our rainbow swag and taking to the streets to let the world know we’re blind, proud and sexual to boot.

You can learn more about what we’re doing for Pride month here, and if you are one of the first 35 to sign up for the festivities on Eventbrite, you’ll get a free “Be Seen” t-shirt (pictured below). These t-shirts can also be purchased for $15 in our Adaptations Store.

LightHouse staff member Esmeralda Soto and Ethan Meigs cross the street wearing LightHouse's 'Be Seen' Pride Tshirts. The shirts say 'be seen' in orange uppercase letters and 'SF Pride 2017', with a braille 'L' and 'H' in rainbow.
Two people cross the street wearing LightHouse’s ‘Be Seen’ Pride Tshirts. The black shirts say ‘be seen’ in orange uppercase letters and ‘SF Pride 2017’, with a braille ‘L’ and ‘H’ in rainbow.
Ethan and his guide dog Gershwin show off their LightHouse Pride t-shirts across from the UN Plaza, with a rainbow flag billowing in the background.
A man and his guide dog show off their LightHouse Pride t-shirts across from the UN Plaza, with a rainbow flag billowing in the background.

We introduced the #BeSeenSF hashtag exactly one year ago when preparing for our big grand opening at 1155 Market Street. On June 10th, 2016 more than a thousand people took over the streets of downtown San Francisco and marched into our new building – people with all levels of vision, from all walks of life. It was a spectacle in the best way possible: a display of joy and unity around a state of being that most people identify as a disability.

We didn’t stop there. Over the course of the year, we released several bold statements about what it means to be seen. Standing six feet tall and spread throughout the Civic Center BART station, each ad is a vivid, illuminated burnt orange with artistic rendering of a blind person going about their business – cooking, exercising, or moving through the streets with a cane or a dog. These tasks may seem mundane, but by putting the blind individual front and center, occupying the focus of the scene and popping boldly out of the brightly colored ad, we send a clear message to the public of San Francisco: blindness is just another way of being – and worth looking at in a different light.

Below, you can peruse all of the artwork for our ads, which were designed by J. Renae Davidson for LightHouse from July 2016 to March 2017. Pictured in them are some of the treasured staff, mentors and role models who you’ll regularly see strolling Market Street on any given day.

Bart Ad Compilation Image. Descriptions below.
Bart Ad Compilation Image. Descriptions below.

This compilation of all our Bart Ads features an orange background with the words (in white) “The Best Place to Be Seen”. A tile of six black and white stylized drawings are as follows.

Top left: A man crosses the street in downtown San Francisco with his white cane. White words below the image read “Learning to use a White Cane”.

Top right: A woman stands at a bus stop with her guide dog, reading a tactile map. Words below the image say “Reading maps”.

Middle left: A man uses an Arduino continuity tester in the LightHouse Toyota Innovation STEM lab on the 11th floor. Text reads “Building Electronics: No Eyes Necessary”.

Middle right: A man chops juicy vegetables in the LightHouse Teaching Kitchen. Text reads “Cookin’ Without Lookin’: Now, That’s Delicious!”

Bottom left: A woman in the LightHouse Adaptations Store holds a magnifying glass up to her eye. Text reads, “Adapting Your Vision. White canes, talking watches, magnifiers & more”.

Bottom right: A woman runs alongside her fitness partner using a lead. The Golden Gate Bridge stands out behind them. Text reads, “Taking Strides Together. Find Your Fitness Partner Today!”

A mockup of our cooking bart ad hangs in an underground station with orange, yellow, red, and grey tile in the background.
A mockup of our cooking bart ad hangs in an underground station with orange, yellow, red, and grey tile in the background.

Last year, SF PRIDE had its first ever blind grand marshal, Belo Cipriani, a welcome reminder that not only are our journeys often parallel, but our identities have significant overlap. This year, Sexual Health Services Program Coordinator Laura Millar is taking our PRIDE participation to the next level, and she wants you to join her. For more information, RSVP on Eventbrite or email Laura at lmillar@lighthouse-sf.org.