LightHouse Celebrates First Year of Immersion Training at Enchanted Hills

If you haven’t checked out the LightHouse’s introduction to blindness classes recently, you are in for a treat. You’ll notice that we’ve strengthened and innovated the way many people first deal with new vision loss. We’ve designed a way to give new LightHouse students an intense and concentrated 50 hours of skills training, confidence-building and mentorship, all in an efficient and fun-filled week. Our new ‘Changing Vision, Changing Life’ classes are now often held at our 311-acre country retreat in Napa County. These retreats are proving to be   a stimulating mini-vacation filled with some of the hardest and most-rewarding work many participants have done in a long time.

We’ve now completed a half-dozen such pioneering learning retreats involving about 100 students since our first bold experiment in 2013. We’ve learned a lot about how to deliver O&M and tech training in a way that is team-building, fun and demanding. During this month’s training, for example, ten students participated, the majority from our North Coast service area. The week was highlighted by personal successes in Orientation & Mobility, braille and most of all, connecting with others to find mentorship and support that will continue far past the retreat, encouraging students to get deeper training in blindness aspects important to them.

These spirited and effective retreats are now a hallmark of LightHouse training. The success of our first 100 students has persuaded us to keep offering the special retreats year round. You may also get a sense of the retreats in the accompanying photographs.

Our next Changing Vision Changing Life week-long immersion training is set for September 7 through 12. To attend, contact Rehabilitation Counselor Debbie Bacon at or 415-694-7357.

If you or someone you know is wanting to work on deaf-blindness tech training, we also periodically offer a concurrent training at Enchanted Hills facilitated by Sook Hee Choi, our Deaf-Blind Specialist. Last month, for example, eight persons who are deaf-blind enjoyed intensive training on the new telecommunication equipment they received at no cost through our Deaf-Blind Telecommunication Program, funded by the Federal Communications Commission. For more information regarding this program, contact Sook Hee Choi at

Here are some photos of the Immersion and Deaf-Blind Telecom trainings:

O & M Specialist Terry Wedler uses one of the tree-lined lanes at Enchanted Hills to train Elk, CA resident George Montag on cane techniques

Close up on O & M Specialist Terry Wedler training George Montag on cane techniques

Eureka photographer and retired Antique Dealer Bill Cody being introduced to Braille

George Montag and Artist Tim Taubold of Ft. Bragg honing their tactile discrimination skills on coins - photo credit: Claire Lewis Photography

L to R, Tim Taubold, George Montag & Bill Cody winding down the evening with a rousing game of poker using large print and braille playing cards

Deaf-Blind Telecom training - Chris Sanchez training East Bay resident Cary Anne Rawson

Deaf-Blind Telecom training – Instructor Mussie Gebra tests a braille display

Deaf-Blind Telecom training - Sook Hee Choi, training East Bay resident Angela Palmer