No Drought in Learning – Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion at Enchanted Hills

While we’ve begun the year with a drought, there is no drought in learning and connecting here at beautiful Enchanted Hills Retreat where the end of January Immersion is going on as we write. The uncommonly warm weather and supportive staff are making the current immersion one of the most fun sessions ever. And with every immersion training comes a new twist – for this late January session there are two different LightHouse groups meeting: one, a group of deaf-blind students and the other a group of blind and low vision students. While their paths intersect during meals and going to and from classes, each group of students follow their groups’ curriculum of individual and group training.

Our Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion at Enchanted Hills is proving to be very popular, even in the heart of winter-time. We asked our participants why they are attending and here are some of the (anonymous) comments we received:

  • “I am experiencing both low vision and rapid hearing loss and I am looking at this time as a new adventure in my life.”
  • “I don’t want to isolate myself at home, I am here to learn a little of everything and create a plan for moving forward.”
  • “I want to learn new strategies and about useful tools so that I can continue with my work”
  • “Technology! I am focusing this time (a second-timer) on technology and becoming more self-assured.”
  • “I want this experience to be a jumping block to my future.”
  • “I know that I will learn some new skills, but I need to meet and talk with others who are experiencing and understanding some of the same daily life challenges I meet.”

Sook Hee Choi is facilitating the deaf-blind training which emphasizes tactile communication skills, access technology, mobility skills and independent living skills. Many of the deaf-blind students have already received telecommunication devices through the deaf-blind telecommunication program, and they have brought their devices to become more proficient in using them.

Meanwhile the LightHouse Rehabilitation Team is running its program for folks new or fairly-new to blindness. As with previous immersion retreats, we have brought together blind and low vision adults from the Bay Area all the way south to Watsonville and north to Crescent City, for this training. Students learn essential daily living skills; an introduction to braille and access technology; cane travel and mobility basics, and most important, they have the opportunity to connect with other students who are also there to learn.

Additionally, Dan O’Connor, a baker (who is both hard of hearing and low vision) is training in the Enchanted Hills kitchen as he hopes to be working with the crew come the summer. He is working with the teaching team on braille and technology skills in order to set up the kitchen so that it works for him and he can get his job done. What he learns here can also apply to any future work space he may have.

LightHouse Rehabilitation Counselor Debbie Bacon and Peer Mentor Manveen Chahal will be work with each student to develop a plan of action to follow when the week is done. While most students continue training at the LightHouse or in their community, having a plan keeps people committed and focused.

How can our Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion Training help you or someone you know? The next immersion training at Enchanted Hills will be held March 30th through April 4th. To find out more, contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357 or

Teaching braille to immersion students

Juliannah Harris teaching Stacey voice over with the iPhone

Dan O'Connor baking oatmeal cookies for lunch

Class by the warming fireplace: Deaf-Blind student Dorie Lee learns American Sign Language