On May 2, 16 blind teens and young adults from throughout California participated in the fourth annual Transition Summit, a collaborative program with the Society for the Blind in Sacramento, the California School for the Blind, Department of Rehabilitation and the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco.
The LightHouse hosts the Transition Summit at Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa every year. This three-day event attempts to tackle challenges facing transition-age blind students, bringing together successful blind professionals with teens and young adults.
Highlights of the weekend included powerful discussions on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), preparing for one’s first summer job through interviewing workshops, sharing success stories around the campfire, hiking, problem-solving around tough situations, and understanding rights and responsibilities as a consumer of rehabilitation services. These were just a few of the meaningful ways the Transition Summit touched and impacted participants.
Blind lawyers, journalists, counselors, recreation leaders, social workers and advocates played a significant role in shaping the curriculum of the retreat. As the Transition Summit drew to a close, each young adult had the opportunity to share what they got out of the weekend. Youth participants said that the Summit helped them to better understand their employment rights and that they gained confidence through role-playing activities. Kyra Sweeney, who traveled to the Summit from Los Angeles, said she now wants to pursue a career as a disability rights attorney.
The unemployment rate for the eligible, eager-to-work blind person is over 70%. It is our belief that transition-focused retreats are a must in addressing this staggering trend. Each Transition Summit focuses on core lessons in ways to apply oneself to networking and being resourceful. Since the Transition Summit began in 2007, more than 75 blind and visually impaired participants ranging from age 16 to 22 have attended.