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Win 2 Tickets to the Treasure Island Music Festival with LightHouse SF!

the scene at treasure island, including palm trees and a ferris wheel

What adaptive tech, app, or blindness device would you never be caught on an island without? Share your answer along with a link to this blog post, and you’ll be entered to win two free tickets (more than $300 value) to the Treasure Island Music Festival this weekend, Oct 17-18, 2015. You can share via Twitter, Facebook, or by copying us on an email to your friends. Contestants who use the hashtag #doTIblind will have an even better chance of winning.

braille and large print versions of the Treasure Island Music Festival schedule

We did it for Burning Man, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and now we’re excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with the Treasure Island Music Festival to produce and distribute our signature festival guides for the blind and low vision bon vivant! This time we’ve created separate braille and large print schedules, with locations and set times for each artist at Treasure Island, including their star-studded new comedy tent and the ever-popular Silent Disco! The programs we made are inspired by the festival’s own design theme (with colors optimized for low vision) and emblazoned with the awesome little TIMF logo. So even if your phone dies and the lights get low, you’ll have all the information you need in your pocket and at your fingertips.

If that wasn’t enough, we teamed up with the festival to send two lucky members of our community to experience Treasure Island for free! Not only will you get to spend the weekend partying on us, but you’ll get to be some of the first to try out our accessible festival guides. And though this is truly a contest made by the blind, for the blind, we won’t prohibit sighted folks from participating, as long as they promise to bring a blind pal along if they win! So tell us about your favorite blindness tool, share this link, and get ready to spend a weekend on the Island.

 

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Tactile Map is Here

hardly strictly bluegrass tactile map - front cover

If you get lost in Golden Gate Park this weekend, try asking a blind person for directions. In anticipation of one of San Francisco’s greatest community events, our team at LightHouse has created something brand new: a Hardly Strictly Bluegrass map that you don’t need eyes to read.

Over the last fifteen years, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass has grown to become one of San Francisco’s greatest attractions, bringing hundreds of thousands of music fans to Golden Gate Park each October to enjoy not just bluegrass, but country, folk, rock, pop, and other legendary musical acts — all for free. Established by Warren Hellman in 2001 and carried on after his passing in 2011, HSB was founded as a non-commercial music festival, and as such, one that was open to all members of the community.

Today we’re proud to be pushing that ideal just a little bit further with our first ever map for blind and low vision people of this Golden Gate Park event. Complete with up-to-date stage locations, street names, trails, restrooms, accessible seating, and a number of other dynamically embossed elements, our HSB map is a dependable way for blind individuals to get to know the festival, navigate independently, and plan their weekend with confidence. What’s more, we’ve printed the full set times for all acts throughout the weekend. It’s all here!

HSB tactile map - inside

Last month, we made some similar maps for Burning Man — a fun way to encourage blind folks to consider making a trek like the one to Black Rock City — but with the Hardly Strictly map, we’re creating something truly for the San Francisco community. The festival is free, and as such, so are the maps. More than anything, we want you to go out and have a beautiful weekend.

HSB tactile maps will be available for all blind and low vision persons at Information Booth 1, located at the Main (East) Entrance to to the park (JFK Drive and Transverse Drive). This is also the stop for the ADA transport. If you’d like to receive a map in advance of the festival, please contact us ASAP at 415-694-7349 or email madlab@lighthouse-sf.org.

Emilie Gossiaux, More Blind Artists Featured in New SF Exhibit

Emilie Gossiaux

“The Mind’s Eye” is open from 12-5 p.m.,  Oct. 1-6 at StoreFrontLabs, 337 Shotwell St., San Francisco.

This weekend a new exhibit called Indigo Mind opened at the StoreFrontLab space in San Francisco’s Mission district. The six-week rotating exhibit features the artwork of 45 individual artists, all exploring themes and ideas from the work of the late great neuroscientist Oliver Sacks. Coming up in week two of the exhibit, beginning October 1, we’re particularly excited for the presentation of some very special blind artists.

Some of our favorite artists, both familiar and new to the scene, are to be featured in Week 2 of Indigo Mind, entitled “The Mind’s Eye.” These include our board member and blind architect Chris Downey, artist and educator Jennifer Justice (also a judge for this year’s Superfest Disability Film Festival), and a relative newcomer to SF’s galleries, Emilie Gossiaux.

Gossiaux is a promising name not only in the sculpting and visual arts communities but for blind and deaf art enthusiasts everywhere. The first deaf-blind graduate of The Cooper Union school of art in New York City, Gossiaux had a deep desire to practice art from a young age, and didn’t let her lifelong hearing loss, or the accident that caused her sudden blindness derail her mission. As a student, she received national awards of excellence, while her story was told everywhere from Radiolab to the New York Times. Today, Emilie is not only thriving as a sculptor and tactile artist, but using cutting edge technology to re-access a world of brush and pen strokes that she once thought she’d lost.

Video: Emilie Gossiaux paints with a BrainPort tongue sensor:

In honor of Emilie’s arrival in San Francisco this week, we asked the LightHouse’s George Wurtzel to tell us a bit about her. Wurtzel, who is blind himself, had the opportunity to instruct Emilie early on in her adaptive process, and has been a longtime supporter of her artistic journey. He was the first person to engage the newly blind Gossiaux with woodworking, sculpture, or show her how to work a lathe. Wurtzel was, as Gossiaux recently told Paste Magazine, “the one who really taught me how to use my hands again.”

Here are George Wurtzel’s thoughts:

You meet some people in your life that have a profound impact on you and the way you look at the world: Emilie Gossiaux is one of those people. I met her while teaching at a rehabilitation center for the blind. I was the industrial arts teacher. Emilie was the first student that I had who was an artist, and I realized that I had to Get It Right. I needed to make sure that she knew that the art was still inside of her.

Emilie GossiauxEveryone has experienced a rough day and the feeling of not being sure of wanting to go on. Emilie had had a bad day about one year before I met her. The world as she had known it had changed and was not going to change back ever again. There has been lots written about Emilie by herself and by other people, so I see no point to talk about it, except to say her bad day was very bad. My job was to help her get back to where she wanted to be, which was the same thing she wanted to be all of her life–an artist. Our first joint project was a wood carving. I wanted her to think about where she was and where she wanted to go. I took three pieces of wood and joined them together. The center piece was to represent a wall; the side I carved was Emilie, like a bird crashing into the wall. The side she was to carve was what she was going to be now coming out the other side of the wall. Emilie in her quest to return to art carved her side into a knife form to cut loose all the things that were keeping her from returning to her passion. Over the next eight months we carved wood, ice, and played in clay and every day I saw her regaining her confidence to return to her life’s dreams. And now we get to see the results of one persons love for what she does presented in a way that will let you and me see a little glimpse into the mind of someone who, no matter what life throws at her, will strive to make others’ lives richer. After you see her work and learn her journey, the way you look at the world will be changed forever- not from the pain of her accident, but from the journey of a person who will let nothing stand in the way of her wanting to make beautiful things to be enjoyed by you!
Learn more about Indigo Mind and get the schedule at StoreFrontLab’s website.

Does Your Movie Theater Offer Audio Description?

photo: a still from Netflix's Daredevil in which a woman reads Daredevil the newspaper

Movie theaters around the country are increasingly under a legal mandate to accommodate blind and visually impaired customers. For the most part, that means providing audio descriptions for films that blind moviegoers can use to hear a visual description of the film. But for various reasons, these services aren’t always available. Here in the Bay Area, a local group of disability rights attorneys are investigating audio descriptions at AMC theaters, and need your feedback.

The announcement is below:

Disability Rights Advocates and Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld are investigating complaints from blind individuals who have been unable to use audio description services at American Multi-Cinema, Inc. (“AMC”) movie theaters. We are interested in speaking with legally blind individuals who have encountered problems when attempting to use audio description services at AMC theaters in California.

Audio description refers to recorded audio that provides synchronized descriptions of a movie’s key visual details during natural pauses in dialog during the movie. Many popular films are released with the audio description feature. Movie theaters provide access to audio description by issuing upon request wireless handsets and headphones that play the audio description track during the movie. This configuration allows blind customers to listen to both the dialog and sound effects in a movie and descriptions of the visual aspects of the film.

If you are legally blind and you have been unable to access audio description services at AMC theaters in California because the audio description equipment was malfunctioning, because AMC staff did not know how to configure the audio description equipment, or for any other reason, we would appreciate speaking with you about your experiences. To share these with us, please contact Charlotte Landes by phone at (415) 433-6830 or by e-mail at Clandes@rbgg.com.

Photos: Blind Babies

Check out these adorable photos from our recent Blind Babies and Families session at Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa! All photos courtesy Marilyn Bogerd. See more and share your own on the Enchanted Hills Camp Facebook page.

Baby, resembling a celebrity in shades and tank-top, reclines in strollerAbove: Casual baby, resembling a celebrity in shades and tank-top, reclines in stroller
young boy poses, mouth agape, parents stylish between father's tattoos and mother's fedoraAbove: young boy poses, mouth agape, stylish between his father’s tattoos and mother’s fedora
little boy is not afraid to get messy when it comes to fingerpaintingAbove: little boy is not afraid to get messy when it comes to fingerpainting
Coltrane looks classically charming in his baby-blue-rimmed spectaclesAbove: Coltrane looks classically charming in his baby-blue-rimmed spectacles
baby rests in mother's arms, sporting white-rimmed sunglassesAbove: baby rests in mother’s arms, sporting white-rimmed sunglasses

 

Feel The Burn: We Made a Tactile Map of Black Rock City for Blind Burning Man Attendees

Black Rock City map - front cover

As Burning Man has ballooned from a desolate San Francisco gathering to a massive, world-famous yearly festival, it has also stood by its ambitious “10 Principles,” the first of which is “Radical Inclusion.” But for some, the annual, ever-evolving desert colony may still seem to be a daunting frontier for blind and low vision individuals.

But what is it, really, that might keep a blind person from taking on Burning Man? Maybe it’s simply the things that might deter anybody else — radical temperatures, alkali dust storms, swarms of hungry insects, or just the throng of 70,000 that descends on Black Rock City every year. And yet if you have even a slight taste for adventure that might sound perfectly enticing. Could it be that, short of courage, the real obstacle is simply finding the right tools for the journey?

Here at LightHouse we pondered this question — and then we built the perfect new tool to answer it. It’s an elegant, straightforward rendering of Black Rock City, in its entirety, in a booklet that you can read without your eyes. A combination of raised lines, braille dots, and special embossed symbols, the map gives you the location of every street, camping area and official point of interest at this year’s Burning Man festival. That includes straightforward destinations such as restrooms or medical stations as well as more poetic points of interest such as “Life Cube,” “Serpent Mother,’ or the “Burner Express Bus Terminal.”

map showing street names and points of interest

With sparse cell reception and weak wi-fi across the massive, makeshift encampment, a physical map is the simple, dependable way to navigate the more than 50 miles of roads set up to accommodate Burning Man each year. Some intrepid blind travelers have done it without paper maps in the past, though using GPS meant needing a phone and/or Braille display ready, charged, and exposed to the elements — not exactly the liberating experience promised by the Nevada desert. The spirit of cooperation and generosity is high, of course, but for the rugged individualist, the enterprising, independent blind or low vision person who wants to truly have their own experience on their own terms, our map is a fantastic new tool.

Julie Sadlier, our one of our specialists on the Access to Information team, which makes tactile maps of anywhere from UC Berkeley to Disneyland, recently read about the Burn’s “Mobility Camp,” Burning Man’s center for those with mobility impairments (wheelchairs, crutches, walkers). She realized that blind and low vision burners needed mobility tools, too. So she set to work creating the Black Rock City Tactile Map, a hybrid of the official map and a crowdsourced Google Map. Knowing that the city is different every year, she was careful to only add destinations liable to be in the same location as previous years. The result is a map that delivers more useful features than many online maps, but remains clean and uncluttered. And like all of our maps, it’s the nimble type of solution that can be updated and printed by our accessible media team in just a few days.

tactile map showing restrooms and medical tents

“Even if it’s just a very small minority of people that go to Burning Man with a visual disability,” she said this week, “I wanted to have something available to them, to have access to information, to make Burning Man Accessible.” Julie plans to drop off one map at Playa Information Services at Center Camp, and says she will have another one with her at camp Love Potion, located at 7:30 and G, for anyone who’d like to check it out. If you’d like to get your own, email madlab@lighthouse-sf.org as soon as possible.

Passing the map around the office, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise that the blind and partially sighted employees responded with particular enthusiasm. Those who couldn’t be bothered to think about the event before were suddenly brimming with curiosity. When asked to assess the map and proof for errors, our braille specialist Frank Welte suddenly found himself intrigued, running his hands over the book, becoming familiar with its stations and roads, and studying the various POI’s studded throughout the pleasingly symmetrical desert settlement. He’d never been to Burning Man, but the map was a small revelation. Julie watched with satisfaction as his interest piqued: “He had so many questions for me, He said ‘I never really wanted to go, but now I kind of do, I want to go see this art, experience this place’.”

We’re looking for blind burners! If you’re headed to the playa next week, please email communications@lighthouse-sf.org or madlab@lighthouse-sf.org so that we can get a map in your hands.

If you’d like to inquire about tactile maps for your festival, venue, or area of interest, please email madlab@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-431-1481.

My First Convention: National Federation of the Blind’s Annual Convention

Of the nearly twenty of us assembled at SFO airport, some had been attending these types of conferences for decades, some only a few years, while others had never even stepped foot on an airplane. It was the 4th of July, and many questions surrounded the group of about a dozen visually impaired teenagers were mulling over as they got ready to take off for a week at their first-ever convention of blind individuals.

The LightHouse youth group, led by fearless leader Jamey Gump, represented a broad mix of backgrounds and experiences. They ranged from age 16 to 20, some attending public school while others were enrolled at the California School for the Blind in Fremont. Among them were aspiring lawyers, tech trainers, musicians and writers. They all hailed from California — everywhere from the foggy Sunset of San Francisco, the inner city of Sacramento, to the Southern Californian suburbs. Some had been preparing since early childhood for imminently changing vision; taking braille lessons and learning blindness skills in tandem with all the other studies of growing up. Others appeared to be less acclimated, perhaps a little less confident with their status as a blind person, though they all had some common qualities as well. They were the adventurous, the open-minded; the teens and young adults willing to fly all the way across the country to find out what it meant to be a part of a growing, global community of blind individuals.

Jamey Gump takes the LightHouse youth to conferences and events all year round, and so this summer he chose to bring the group to the National Federation of the Blind’s Annual Convention, The week-long affair is the largest of its kind, and carries with it a staunch political agenda, emphasizes fierce independence, and works to instill pride in its members. With almost 3,000 attendees, the convention — like so many conventions — can be experienced on multiple levels, whether it’s simply wandering from room to room, sailing through the sea of white canes and dogs, or engaging critically with the policy and membership activities the organization has to offer. Some people, it seems, are simply there to party, taking advantage of the affordable opportunity to kick back in an environment where, instead of being viewed as an outlier or an oddity, they blend in perfectly. That, to many, is an oasis to look forward to every year. Jamey’s group members, though, were there as students.

Disembarking at the massive Orlando airport, even at 1 a.m., the humidity is the first thing that gets your attention. There’s something heavy and urgent about it, pushing you towards the indoors, into the haven of air-conditioned environments built not just for shelter, but total habitation. It was immediately obvious that no one would be leaving the hotel. But for the ensuing week, there was almost no reason to step outside the doors of the Rosen Center anyway.

For starters, there were seminars, speeches, and official business that introduced our students to a whole new world of education, tools, attitudes, and advocacy that they never knew existed. In one room, the makers of the KNFB Reader demonstrated how to read any print book out loud with a simple app on your phone. In another room, musicians and performing arts professionals gathered to share their resources. These were everyone from old school piano tuners to production professionals preaching the merits of ProTools. In still other exhibit halls all along the gargantuan hotel, divisions of young lawyers, educators, and students each met to discuss the topics that motivated them and propelled them forward. Depending on their unique interests, our students were able to pick and choose the seminars which excited them most — to see what it would take to become a teacher, an artist, or an attorney.

Up the escalators and across the catwalk to another building was the Independence Market. A trade show for tools, tech, and even apparel revolving around adaptation and blindness, this is where you could find blind folks wandering like kids in a candy store throughout the week. Here you could browse all the various reading tools, special earbuds and headphones, hi-tech and low-tech alike. Jamey walked out with a t-shirt printed with the blithe public service announcement: “Keep Calm, It’s Just A Cane.”

Starting Wednesday and throughout the following three days, the entire convention met in the grand ballroom. Those talks had a much more unifying tone, seeking to deliver big messages and shore up any doubts that the blindness community is a powerful and influential one. Our youth diligently sat through hours of lecturing, three days in a row, taking in speeches by everyone from Google futurist Ray Kurzweil, new NFB President Mark Riccobono, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy, and Target.com Vice President Alan Wizemann.

Then came Serena Olsen, who was closer in age to any of us than probably most people on the stage. Olsen was asked to speak to tell her story of not only living abroad and taking blindness international, but about doing it as a member of the Peace Corps. Olsen has spent the last year in Kyrgyzstan, the former Soviet nation in central Asia known mostly in the West for its place on the global “Least Developed Countries” list. Olsen has been living, working, and teaching in the Kyrgyz Republic, redefining her own sense of herself as a blind person as she faces each new obstacle (which you can read about in detail on her blog, Blind Broad Abroad). She also brought along Hayot, a young lady from Kyrgyzstan for whom she was able to fund a summer in America. Hayot is currently working as a counsellor at Enchanted Hills Camp; more on that later.

These speeches were the types of powerful experiences you’d never get in everyday life. In addition to these “big room” experiences, the LightHouse also made sure to arrange some special “small room” experiences of our own. That meant a networking dinner with a select group of mentors: rockstars like Hoby Wiedler who’s earning his PhD in chemistry and leads wine tastings at Francis Ford Coppola Winery; or disability rights attorney Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School, who recently introduced President Obama at the White House. Talking one-on-one to these peers and role models made a huge impact on the teenagers, and showed them not only that there are great blind people out in the world, but that they also are interested and engaged with the what young people have to say, ready to exchange advice on a peer level.

As one of our students in the youth group put it after the convention, “It made me feel like a part of something, much bigger than just a blind kid: a blind kid that was part of a blind family that is spread throughout the country. Being in an environment where there are over 2,000 blind people was a new experience for me; that felt very different from a normal day in San Francisco.”

To reach youth leader Jamey Gump, or to sign up for our Youth Events List, email jgump@lighthouse-sf.org.

Email the author at communications@lighthouse-sf.org.

My First Convention

Jamey Gump, Bryan Bashin and the LightHouse youth group, dressed up for a banquet

Of the nearly twenty of us assembled at SFO airport, some had been attending these types of conferences for decades, some only a few years, while others had never even stepped foot on an airplane. It was the 4th of July, and I couldn’t help but wonder if on our way to Florida there’d be fireworks popping just outside of the plane window. It was these and other idle questions that the group of about a dozen visually impaired teenagers were mulling over as they got ready to take off for a week at their first-ever convention of blind individuals.

The LightHouse youth group, led by fearless leader Jamey Gump, represented a broad mix of backgrounds and experiences. They ranged from age 16 to 20, some attending public school while others were enrolled at the California School for the Blind in Fremont. Among them were aspiring lawyers, tech trainers, musicians and writers. They all hailed from California — everywhere from the foggy Sunset of San Francisco, the inner city of Sacramento, to the Southern Californian suburbs. Some had been preparing since early childhood for imminently changing vision; taking braille lessons and learning blindness skills in tandem with all the other studies of growing up. Others appeared to be less acclimated, perhaps a little less confident with their status as a blind person, though they all had some common qualities as well. They were the adventurous, the open-minded; the teens and young adults willing to fly all the way across the country to find out what it meant to be a part of a growing, global community of blind individuals.

Jamey Gump takes the LightHouse youth to conferences and events all year round, and so this summer he chose to bring the group to the National Federation of the Blind’s Annual Convention, The week-long affair is the largest of its kind, and carries with it a staunch political agenda, emphasizes fierce independence, and works to instill pride in its members. With almost 3,000 attendees, the convention — like so many conventions — can be experienced on multiple levels, whether it’s simply wandering from room to room, sailing through the sea of white canes and dogs, or engaging critically with the policy and membership activities the organization has to offer. Some people, it seems, are simply there to party, taking advantage of the affordable opportunity to kick back in an environment where, instead of being viewed as an outlier or an oddity, they blend in perfectly. That, to many, is an oasis to look forward to every year. Jamey’s group members, though, were there as students.

Disembarking at the massive Orlando airport, even at 1 a.m., the humidity is the first thing that gets your attention. There’s something heavy and urgent about it, pushing you towards the indoors, into the haven of air-conditioned environments built not just for shelter, but total habitation. It was immediately obvious that no one would be leaving the hotel. But for the ensuing week, there was almost no reason to step outside the doors of the Rosen Center anyway.

For starters, there were seminars, speeches, and official business that introduced our students to a whole new world of education, tools, attitudes, and advocacy that they never knew existed. In one room, the makers of the KNFB Reader demonstrated how to read any print book out loud with a simple app on your phone. In another room, musicians and performing arts professionals gathered to share their resources. These were everyone from old school piano tuners to production professionals preaching the merits of ProTools. In still other exhibit halls all along the gargantuan hotel, divisions of young lawyers, educators, and students each met to discuss the topics that motivated them and propelled them forward. Depending on their unique interests, our students were able to pick and choose the seminars which excited them most — to see what it would take to become a teacher, an artist, or an attorney.

Up the escalators and across the catwalk to another building was the Independence Market. A trade show for tools, tech, and even apparel revolving around adaptation and blindness, this is where you could find blind folks wandering like kids in a candy store throughout the week. Here you could browse all the various reading tools, special earbuds and headphones, hi-tech and low-tech alike. Jamey walked out with a t-shirt printed with the blithe public service announcement: “Keep Calm, It’s Just A Cane.”

Starting Wednesday and throughout the following three days, the entire convention met in the grand ballroom. Those talks had a much more unifying tone, seeking to deliver big messages and shore up any doubts that the blindness community is a powerful and influential one. Our youth diligently sat through hours of lecturing, three days in a row, taking in speeches by everyone from Google futurist Ray Kurzweil, new NFB President Mark Riccobono, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy, and Target.com Vice President Alan Wizemann.

Then came Serena Olsen, who was closer in age to any of us than probably most people on the stage. Olsen was asked to speak to tell her story of not only living abroad and taking blindness international, but about doing it as a member of the Peace Corps. Olsen has spent the last year in Kyrgyzstan, the former Soviet nation in central Asia known mostly in the West for its place on the global “Least Developed Countries” list. Olsen has been living, working, and teaching in the Kyrgyz Republic, redefining her own sense of herself as a blind person as she faces each new obstacle (which you can read about in detail on her blog, Blind Broad Abroad). She also brought along Hayot, a young lady from Kyrgyzstan for whom she was able to fund a summer in America. Hayot is currently working as a counsellor at Enchanted Hills Camp; more on that later.

These speeches were the types of powerful experiences you’d never get in everyday life. In addition to these “big room” experiences, the LightHouse also made sure to arrange some special “small room” experiences of our own. That meant a networking dinner with a select group of mentors: rockstars like Hoby Wiedler who’s earning his PhD in chemistry and leads wine tastings at Francis Ford Coppola Winery; or disability rights attorney Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School, who recently introduced President Obama at the White House. Talking one-on-one to these peers and role models made a huge impact on the teenagers, and showed them not only that there are great blind people out in the world, but that they also are interested and engaged with the what young people have to say, ready to exchange advice on a peer level.

As one of our students in the youth group put it after the convention, “It made me feel like a part of something, much bigger than just a blind kid: a blind kid that was part of a blind family that is spread throughout the country. Being in an environment where there are over 2,000 blind people was a new experience for me; that felt very different from a normal day in San Francisco.”

To reach youth leader Jamey Gump, or to sign up for our Youth Events List, email jgump@lighthouse-sf.org.

Email the author at communications@lighthouse-sf.org.

Google Announces “Day-in-the-Life” Study Following Blind Individuals

Google Logo, written in Braille

We’ve had a terrific summer getting to know the folks at Google who think deeply about accessibility on a daily basis, and as a product of that relationship we’ve been able to provide some great new opportunities for our students and community members, both in receiving training and providing feedback.

Now, on the heels of our highly successful July workshop, we’re proud to announce a new opportunity: Google would like to follow you around for a day — quite literally.

The announcement, direct from Mountain View:

At Google, our Android and Accessibility teams are studying current and future technologies that help people with visual disabilities. We are seeking to understand what works and doesn’t work with smartphones and other devices that help. We would like to deeply understand the emotions, hurdles, achievements and surprises that are involved in navigating the world with visual impairment. Familiarity with the Android operating system is not a prerequisite to contribute to this research.

The research will take place between Monday August 17th and Saturday August 22nd.

To participate in this research, there are 2 options: Full-day and partial-day. Descriptions are listed below.

Full day shadow:
– For this research project, one researcher would like to observe a typical day in your life, including one significant activity (like going to a museum or going grocery shopping). The researcher would meet you in the morning at your home, as early as you feel comfortable starting. She [these researchers happen to all be women] will generally sit quietly nearby as you go through your daily routine. She’ll ask questions, take notes and take photographs occasionally. She will accompany you on any events you have planned for the day.

In addition to the observation, we would like to also conduct an interview you with you and some friends, on the following day. You would invite one to two friends to meet together at a convenient time and place (e.g., your home, Google office), to chat together about your experiences with different tools and different situations.

For your time, you would be compensated $700. Your friends would each receive $150 for attending the 2-hour buddy session.

Partial-day shadow:
– “For this research project, two researchers would like to follow you through a significant activity in your daily life (like going to a museum, having lunch with friends, or going grocery shopping, etc.). The researchers would meet you at your home,and travel with you to the activity, to get to know you and also observe transportation experiences. They will ask questions, take notes and take photographs occasionally, but try not to be too disruptive to what you need to accomplish. You can choose which activity you would take them along to. They expect to spend about 3 hours with you. For your time, you would be compensated $300 for your time.”

Note: The quotes and photographs that we collect during our research will be kept confidential to our company, and never be used publicly. We will use the stories and experiences that we gather to build develop new opportunities for technology to help people with visual disabilities.

If you are interested, please click here and complete the survey. If you have any further questions, please direct them to LightHouse’s deputy director, Scott Blanks at sblanks@lighthouse-sf.org.

Let Transit Agencies Know what Bay Area Blind People Think

Here at the LightHouse, we’ve become well-known for our tactile and talking maps, transit system strip maps, and other forms of accessible wayfinding tools that go above and beyond what the ADA mandates for the public. We have amassed lots of data about transit and traveler preferences, but we always need more — which is why we need your help.

We are conducting an online survey regarding your experience and ability to travel independently as a person who is blind or low vision. Your answers, together with the responses of other blind and visually-impaired travelers, will help us understand real-world challenges and solutions for orientation and mobility across a wide variety of individual abilities. Your answers will be completely private, and will only be published in our grant report to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

TAKE THE SURVEY

Please answer all of the questions to the best of your ability. This survey should take approximately twenty minutes to complete. If you prefer to take the survey by phone please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail at madlab@lighthouse-sf.org or by phone at 415-694-7349.

Thank you very much in advance for your help with this project!

To take the survey on the web, follow the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XV9ZP79