In March the LightHouse was awarded a generous $50,000 grant from the California Communications Access Foundation to construct an Accessible Video Conference Center in our San Francisco headquarters. The Center has been designed to accommodate the unique disability needs of blind, low-vision, deaf-blind and hearing-impaired individuals and will be available for community events and trainings.
The room build-out is just about complete and includes new giant viewing screens that can be raised or lowered to accommodate a low vision audience, surround sound speakers and the ability to use FM wireless headsets that provide video description for both a blind audience and people with hearing loss. All of this controlled by a PC based computer system that can be run by blind and sighted staff alike.
For years we’ve been asked by blind and sighted professionals, family members and clients if there might be a way for them to experience our seminar presentations. With the help of this grant, the Center can now provide video as well as audio coverage, allowing a much broader community to benefit from the technology seminars we’re already producing.
In addition the Lighthouse will test new technologies with partner Smith-Kettlewell that will allow users streaming video from anywhere on the Internet to link with video description provided by individuals, organizations and professionals. The new video description system has the potential to revolutionize the quantity and timeliness of video description available to blind people who would benefit from it in education, cultural materials and pure entertainment.
We are excited about the possibilities this new Center will offer and can’t wait for you to experience it. Here are some photos from this “work in progress.”