BJ Epstein began her association with the LightHouse in March of 2011 working on the Accessible BART Station Map Project, a collaboration between LightHouse and Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute. This innovative project, funded by a New Freedom grant, will produce talking tactile maps of each BART station and will allow those who are blind or have low vision to independently navigate this essential public transport system, enabling them to be active participants in their communities.
BJ began work on this project as a volunteer, creating base maps for our team of volunteer surveyors (architects and Orientation and Mobility Specialists) to use in assessing the important features of each BART station at street, concourse, and platform levels. She also participated in the station surveys. She then was hired by the LightHouse to take those surveys and create tactile map designs using the software program AutoCAD.
BJ has a Masters in Architecture from Iowa State University and a minor in Accessibility. Regular meetings with blind team members, including Smith-Kettlewell scientist Joshua Miele and architect Chris Downey, have given her a better understanding of what it means to navigate the world blind, as well as how blind people read documents, especially those documents traditionally thought to be primarily visual – such as maps. This experience has taught her how best to represent paths of travel, landmarks and obstacles on maps and combined with her experience as a designer, drafter and accessibility consultant, it ensures that our maps will be accessible to, and usable by, those with any level of vision.
BJ continues to be integral to the Accessible BART Station Map Project as well as the Accessible Muni Metro Station Map Project and supports LightHouse staff in creating Braille, audio recordings, e-text, Tactile Maps and Graphics and providing Accessibility Consultation to businesses, government agencies, museums, exhibitors and designers with a focus on making their information accessible. She told us, “It’s very exciting to use these emerging technologies and see how they can assist people with various abilities. I’m grateful for this opportunity to make the world a better place.”
Can BJ and the full AIS team help your company with access? Start by contacting Greg Kehret, Director of Access to Information Services, at 415-694-7349 or email@example.com.