Newly Blind Immersion Group Learns Everything from Voiceover to Yoga

A highlight for many during our September Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion in Napa were the 7:00 a.m. yoga classes offered by Orientation and Mobility Specialist Terry Wedler and North Coast satellite Social Worker Janet Pomerantz. They brought their passion and expertise to our early risers with bodywork that invigorated and got the mind ready for the day’s learning.

Janet describes Yoga as a practice of “creating awareness of the body, the mind and life in general. The body becomes more flexible and the mind becomes more open to new experiences.” Being open to new experiences is exactly what we ask of students throughout the Immersion. From the moment a student joins us at Enchanted Hills and orients themselves to their new surroundings, the learning has begun.

Each week-long Immersion session flows organically based on where each student is in their path. For example, in learning to effectively use VoiceOver software, those students with experience with iPhones or iPads naturally gravitate together, while newbies help each other ‘take it from the top’. Those students who have functional vision and want to learn more about lighting, contrast and magnification may break off from those who wish to become braille users. Training takes place in and students also have individual time with mobility and access technology specialists.

In addition to LightHouse training staff who spend the full week at the immersion, we also bring in guests to provide instruction in and information. This past training, LightHouse Donor Relations Coordinator Lisamaria Martinez, who is also a National Orientation and Mobility Trainer, joined us for three days to train students on the iPhone, Braille and introduction to echolocation as an orientation tool. In addition, Guide Dogs for the Blind Outreach Manager Jane Flowers provided students with information on dog guide pros and cons.

Each day our immersion students have personal time to absorb and process everything being learned; when they go for a walk on Enchanted Hills beautiful grounds, they practice their cane skills; or reading Rosalind Perlman’s fascinating book “The Blind Doctor” after learning how to use the Victor Reader Stream. Most of all, students connect with each other, making friends that last well beyond the training.

The next Changing Vision Changing Life Retreat runs from Sunday, January 11 through Friday, January 16. To register, contact Rehabilitation Counselor Debbie Bacon at or 415-694-7357.

Students practice yoga at LightHouse Immersion in Napa