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LightHouse News

Blind Chemist Hoby Wedler Leads first “Cooking with Community Class” for Youth

Blind Chemist Hoby Wedler Leads first “Cooking with Community Class” for Youth

Calling all cooks and aspiring cooks in middle and high school who are blind or have low vision: LightHouse Youth Programs is pleased to announce a new class: Cooking Creates Community. This happens the second Saturday of the month from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm. This monthly virtual cooking lesson and conversation will be led by LightHouse staff and a rotating guest mentor who is blind or has low vision and who has a passion for cooking, baking or anything food-related.

This class is a chance for blind and low vision students to connect with their peers and learn some basic independent cooking skills at home from cool mentors who will answer student questions and share advice.

Those who sign up for the program will be emailed the list of equipment and supplies needed, along with the recipe and the Zoom link they’ll use for that month’s event. As a bonus, for students who sign up by the fourth of each month, LightHouse’s Youth team will mail the ingredients for that month’s recipe directly to them, on the house.

For the October 9 class, blind chemist Dr. Hoby Wedler, who has worked with LightHouse Youth in the past, will share his secrets to the best mashed potatoes. By walking students through his simple recipe and a conversation about how he chooses his seasonings, students will learn to make a dish that can be added to most meals. Sign up by October fourth to get ingredients as well as Hoby’s new line of seasoning, Happy Paprika, that they can try with this dish.

The first class will be Saturday, October 9 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm.

The classes to round out the year are Saturday, November 13 and Saturday, December 11.

RSVP to Jamey Gump at JGump@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7372.

Celebrate Disability Culture at Palo Alto Art Center In-Person or Virtually

Celebrate Disability Culture at Palo Alto Art Center In-Person or Virtually

You’re invited to The Art of Disability Culture: Artists with Disabilities Dispelling Myths, Dissolving Barriers, and Disrupting Prejudice, running September 11 through December 11 at the Palo Alto Art Center in Palo Alto California. This exhibit celebrates the “diverse, personal, and infinitely varied disability experience.”

There are several blind people among the 20 artists whose work is featured in the exhibit: From tactile paintings created during the height of the pandemic by Catherine Lecce-Chong, to an audio comic by Chad Allen, to ceramics by Don Katz, to a site-specific environmental installation by Jennifer Justice, to a healing labyrinth installation by Maia Scott, to a large-scale sculpture made from discarded materials by Matthaus Lam.

The exhibition will feature audio description which will be available for all works of art onsite and on the website. There will also be Braille  labels. Public programs will include American Sign Language interpretation and live captioning and social narratives will be available online for visitors with autism. The art center is also wheelchair accessible.

There are two free public programs both with in-person and virtual options. The programs will include American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and live captioning. The Palo Alto Art Center facility is fully wheelchair accessible.

Friday Night at the Art Center Opening reception
September 17 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Join us onsite or virtually for this unique hybrid and accessible celebration of The Art of Disability Culture. This event will feature in-person and virtual exhibition walkthroughs, a chance to hear from exhibiting artists, hands-on art activities, a spoken word performance by award-winning author Joy Elan, and a specialty cocktail (Reasonable Accommodation) and bar provided by the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation.

Event will be hosted onsite and online. Register for the September 17 Art of Disability Culture event.

Community Day Celebration
Sunday, October 10, 2021, noon to 4:00 pm  

Learn more about The Art of Disability Culture exhibition in this unique hybrid community day celebration. Participate in exhibition walkthroughs with the curator; enjoy hands-on art activities; an introduction by Northern California’s only stuttering female comedian Nina G; gallery activities; Canine Companions, a performance by Bay Area native, African, Indigenous, Deaf, Disabled, Producer, Choreographer, Actor, and Dancer Antoine Hunter; and Mozzeria, the Deaf-owned Neapolitan pizza truck.

Event will be hosted onsite and online; online registration links: Register for the October 0 Art of Disability Culture event.

COVID-19 Rent Relief for San Francisco Residents

COVID-19 Rent Relief for San Francisco Residents

The San Francisco Mayor’s Office on Disability and the San Francisco Mayor’s Office on Housing and Community Development would like San Francisco tenants to know about  a COVID-19 Rent Assistance Program.

Tenants can apply for up to 18 months of rental assistance including prospective rental assistance and utility assistance. All eligible households will receive assistance. The order that applications are processed will be determined by prioritization. Generally, completed applications will be processed within four to six weeks.

 Eligibility Requirements

  1. You must be a tenant in San Francisco
  2. You must have faced financial hardship. You can either:
    • have qualified for Unemployment benefits or
    • experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship
  3. You must be able to demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability which can include:
    • past-due rent or utilities
    • unsafe or unhealthy living conditions
    • any other evidence of such risk

For more information on eligibility visit SF.gov COVID-19 Rent Assistance page to read the full details and to apply.

LightHouse Launches New Program for Parents of Infants and Toddlers Who are Blind or Have Low Vision

LightHouse Launches New Program for Parents of Infants and Toddlers Who are Blind or Have Low Vision

We are thrilled to announce the launch of a major new program called LightHouse Little Learners. The program will serve families of children ages birth to three who are blind, DeafBlind, have low vision or neurological visual impairment, or whose developmental delays include blindness or low vision. Read on to find out more. 

 

The launch of this new program comes after the Golden Gate Regional Center certified LightHouse as a provider of early intervention services for the youngest children who are blind or have low vision and their families in three northern California counties: San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties with other counties within the Bay Area and northern California to be added shortly. This approval allows referrals to the new LightHouse Little Learners program from regional centers, eye care specialists and community-based programs.

The Little Learners program will serve families directly in their homes as well as in community-based settings and northern California LightHouse locations, including renowned 311-acre Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa.

“When a family gives birth to a new baby or adopts an infant with blindness or low vision, they need immediate professional partnership to help raise their child to become self-confident and engaged with the world around them,” said LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin. “If they get responsive parent education, encouragement and community connections, there is no reason why their children who are blind or low vision will not grow up to achieve their highest potential.”

The LightHouse Little Learners Program will provide services both remotely and in-person at families’ homes providing accessible toys and learning opportunities for infants and toddlers, in addition to introducing families to a network of other parents for support and local resources.

“The LightHouse is excited to offer deep and comprehensive early intervention services to northern California families,” said Dr. Sharon Sacks, LightHouse Board Chair and former Superintendent of the California School for the Blind in Fremont.

“The LightHouse Little Learners Program has been a dream of LightHouse leadership and staff for many years,” said Tony Fletcher Director of LightHouse’s Enchanted Hills Camp. “We have the beautiful welcoming facilities that will make year-round family bonding and education practical throughout northern California and we are thrilled to be able to launch this program now.”

LightHouse’s Little Learners Program is culturally responsive and rooted in the philosophy of progressive infant and family mental health as well as best practices in early intervention. In addition to home and community-based services provided by highly qualified specialists in early childhood blindness and low vision, many other LightHouse staff will be available to share experiences and their expertise with families to enrich their understanding of blindness or low vision, and to encourage their child’s active exploration of the world and growth toward independence.

Parents, teachers and others can learn more about the Little Learners Program by visiting https://lighthouse-sf.org/lighthouse-little-learners/. If you know a family with an infant or toddler who is blind or has low vision, please contact the program directly at littlelearners@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7657.

New to Blindness? Learn essential skills with a virtual Edition of Changing Vision Changing Life

New to Blindness? Learn essential skills with a virtual Edition of Changing Vision Changing Life

Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) is for those who are new to blindness or low vision and want to get a full overview of the essential training that will be beneficial for work, home, school and life. Students will be with a cohort of up to ten peers. CVCL starts with a day of thinking and grows into a week of learning, connecting and doing. This one-week course runs every day with all classes on Zoom.
 
In addition to the week of training, there will be an Orientation Session Friday, September 17 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm and a follow-up meetup on Friday October 1, from 10:00 am to noon after the conclusion of the course. During the training week of September 20 to 24, there are three, two-hour learning sessions every day. Each day of training begins at 10:00 am and ends at 5:00 pm with breaks for lunch and dinner. The exception is Friday, September 24 which begins at 9:30 am and ends at 1:00 pm. Time for student discussion and other relevant topics will be facilitated Monday through Thursday after each afternoon class. Optional chair yoga will be available Tuesday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 9:45 am to get your day started

This week-long course is designed for adults who desire a deep introduction to independent living through travel (Orientation & Mobility), Access Technology, and Independent Living Skills. It’s also for those who want a venue to have rich discussion with peers and our professional staff about the opportunity and choices that are ahead. Everyone will receive a packet of materials to enhance learning throughout the week and we will end the week with a morning cooking session (in students’ own kitchens) and lunch together.
 
Because one of the main purposes of this course is to connect with others who are new to blindness or low vision, we request that all students make a commitment to participate in all sessions including the CVCL Orientation and CVCL Post-Course Meetup. Please note, you do not have to have a computer to participate via Zoom, but you must have a reliable speaker phone (smart phone or landline) to participate and call in. Our tech trainer will provide training before the course to make the Zoom experience smooth.

Cost

The fee to participate in this training is $825 and $140 for course materials that will be sent to you prior to September 20. There are options to pay for the course if you are a consumer of Vocational Rehabilitation or 55 or older.
 
If you are a consumer of Vocational Rehabilitation, in California or any other state, you will need an authorization from your Rehabilitation Counselor to participate in CVCL.
 
If you are not with Vocational Rehabilitation and you are age 55 and older, and living in the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Humboldt, Del Norte or Trinity, there may be partial scholarship funding for training and course materials.

CVCL Full Schedule

CVCL Orientation Session: Friday, September 17 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
CVCL: Monday, September 20 through Thursday September 23 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Friday, September 24 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm
CVCL Optional Morning Chair Yoga: Tuesday, September 21 through Thursday, September 23 from 9:00 am top 9:45 am
Post-CVCL Meetup: Friday October 1, from 10:00 am to noon
 
Registration is required and the deadline to register is Tuesday, September 14, 2021. To register, please contact Debbie Bacon at DBacon@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7357 or Janet Pomerantz (Humboldt, Trinity and Del Norte residents) at JPomerantz@lighthouse-sf.org or 707-268-5646.

Information on the Upcoming California Recall Election, Including How LightHouse Volunteers Can Provide Support

Information on the Upcoming California Recall Election, Including How LightHouse Volunteers Can Provide Support

Attention all California voters: The California Gubernatorial Recall Election has been scheduled for Tuesday, September 14. This election will decide whether the California state governor, Gavin Newsom, should be removed from office before his official term ends.
 
Registered voters in California began receiving a vote-by-mail ballot in August. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and would like support completing your vote-by-mail ballot, LightHouse volunteers are here to help. All LightHouse volunteers will ensure that you can exercise your right to vote.
 
If you would like to request a volunteer to support you in completing your ballot, please email volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7320. Please request your volunteer support no later than Wednesday, September 8.

Important Gubernatorial Recall Election Information

 
If you have recently registered to vote, you may not have received a vote-by-mail ballot. You have until September 7 to request a vote-by-mail ballot. All vote-by-mail ballots must have your signature on the return envelope and be dropped off at a voting precinct or at an official 24-hour voting drop box by September 14. If you mail your ballot, it must be postmarked no later than September 14.
 
Read information on vote-by-mail ballots and how to apply for one from the California Secretary of State’s website.  

Vote In Person

 
To vote in person and learn more about accessible in-person voting please contact your county election office to find your voting precinct. Here’s a complete list of the election offices for all California counties.

Remote Accessible Vote-By-Mail (RABVM)

 
You may be able to vote from home using accessible technology with the Remote Accessible Vote-By-Mail system. You will need to print your ballot and put it in a vote-by-mail envelope or your own envelope. After you sign the envelope you will need to mail the ballot or drop it off at a voting precinct or at an official 24-hour voting drop box by September 14. Mailed ballots must be postmarked no later than September 14.   

Important Links & Phone Number

 

Find out more about the Gubernatorial Recall Election from the California Secretary of State website.
Recall Election Frequently Asked Questions
KQED: How to Fill Out Your Recall Ballot and How to Correct a Mistake
Ballotpedia Information about the Recall

You can also call the California Secretary of State’s Voter Hotline at 1-800-345-8683.

Now here’s your roundup of upcoming classes and activities happening at the LightHouse in September. Keep visiting our online calendar as more are being added all the time.

LightHouse Youth Return to Favorite Programs this Fall. And Something New!

LightHouse Youth Return to Favorite Programs this Fall. And Something New!

LightHouse’s Youth Programs team is excited to be bringing back many of your favorite virtual programs this autumn, plus introduce a new one. Find out more about them below.

Get your weekends started off right with Reel Escape: Audio Described Movie Club. Every Friday evening from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm, you can catch an episode of the Netflix series Daredevils. Every third Saturday of the month you can also invite your family and enjoy a family favorite film from 1:00 pm to 4:00 p.m. Come for the audio-described cinematic adventures, stay for the good company and fun commentary and discussions after the films.

What: Reel Escape: Audio Described Movie Club: Friday Evening Daredevils
When: Fridays starting September 3 from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Who: Teen and young adults who are blind or have low vision
RSVP: to Jamey Gump at JGump@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7372

What: Reel Escape: Audio Described Saturday Movie Club
When: Third Saturdays of the month starting September 18 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Who: Youth who are blind or have low vision and their families
RSVP: to Jamey Gump at JGump@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7372

Youth Programs is also here to cure your Saturday night boredom with a virtual monthly Not So Bored Game Night. Every third Saturday of the month from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm join friends and LightHouse Youth Programs staff via Zoom for a fun and interactive evening of accessible games. Kind and competitive banter is always welcomed!

What: Not So Bored Game Night
When: Saturdays beginning September 18 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Who: Youth who are blind or have low vision under the age of 18 or who have attended high school in the past year
RSVP: to Jamey Gump at JGump@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7372.

Along with all our old favorites, LightHouse is thrilled to announce a shiny new virtual youth program, Polishing to Perfection: LightHouse Student Woodworking Club. During the last few years of teen camp session at Enchanted Hills Camp, our youth have been lucky to have a group of wood workers inspire our campers to take up the hobby. This new monthly virtual wood polishing club is designed to connect LightHouse and EHC friends throughout the year while polishing wood into art. A woodworker who is blind or has low vision will join us each month and share their story and wisdom with the next generation of artists.

Students who sign up for the program one week in advance will receive the basic materials and equipment to get started with wood polishing. Those students who remain active in the program and improve their skill will become eligible for additional raw materials that they can turn into art or gifts for loved ones. The polishing party takes place on the second Saturday of the month at 7:00 pm. Each gathering will have time dedicated to update others about their projects, learn a little about that month’s mentor, and most importantly have as much time as the evening will allow to hangout and polish with your blind and low vision friends.

What: Polishing to Perfection: LightHouse Student Woodworkers Club
When: Second Saturdays of the month, starting September 11 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Who: Youth who are blind or have low vision
RSVP: to Jamey Gump JGump@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7372. RSVP by September 4 to have materials mailed to you.

If you are interested in joining any of these great programs, contact Jamey Gump JGump@lighthouse-sf.org or give the Youth Programs team a call at 415-694-7372. Be sure to check our online calendar as new events are added all the time. We hope to see you at one, two, or all our fall Youth Programs.

And the 2021 Holman Prizewinners Are…

And the 2021 Holman Prizewinners Are…

The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco is pleased to announce the winners of the fifth annual Holman Prize for Blind Ambition.

Last month an international panel of blind leaders came together virtually to select the three winners of the 2021 Holman Prize.

Launched in 2017, the Holman Prize awards up to $25,000 each to three blind people with ambitious ideas that will challenge misperceptions about blindness worldwide. We’re pleased to partner with Waymo whose support is deep and continuing as a sponsor of one of these prizes. The Holman Prize is named for James Holman, a 19th century blind explorer who was the most prolific private traveler of anyone, blind or sighted, before the era of modern transportation.

Aaron Cannon

Aaron Cannon, 41 – USA

Cannon will use the Holman Prize to build accessible math training modules containing many lessons showing how blind people can learn to do math. These will be shared on a website. Of the endeavor, Cannon says, “This is a project I really believe in. There is something particularly impactful for a student being taught a complex subject that they think they are going to have difficulty with because of their blindness. But if there is a blind person teaching it to them, that kind of goes away. The subject may be hard, but not because of blindness.”

Robert Malunda

Robert Malunda, 33 – Zimbabwe

Malunda will use the Holman Prize to provide computer, orientation & mobility and social skills training to blind Zimbabweans in rural locations. Malunda will personally visit these areas were there are no government services of any kind for blind people. Says Malunda, “Blind people in Zimbabwe often experience isolation. I envision a Zimbabwe where blind people are knowledgeable, independent and socially interactive.”

Maud Rowell

Maud Rowell, 25 – United Kingdom

Rowell will travel across Japan independently including visits to rural and remote areas, solely by foot and public transportation. “I truly believe my project – travelling the length of Japan and writing a book – embodies the spirit of the Holman Prize: it’s ambitious, adventurous, and creative, and it’s absolutely driven by passion and a desire to challenge myself and others’ perceptions of the blind,” she says.

Bryan Bashin, LightHouse CEO, says of the winners, “This year the Holman judges selected three ambitious people from three continents to push the boundaries of blindness. In Zimbabwe, Robert Malunda will go to  the most distant parts of his country to expose blind people to modern attitudes and innovative techniques blind people use. In Japan, Maud Rowell will complete a Holmanesque journey to the most remote and little-visited parts of the Japanese archipelago, doing it solo and sensitively. And in the USA Aaron Cannon will develop a series of blind-friendly tutorials and methods for blind people to learn mathematics, a key subject for later academic and vocational success. We look forward to seeing how each of these three remarkable people will change attitudes about blindness and our ambition.”

LightHouse to Pause Re-Opening

LightHouse to Pause Re-Opening

For many months we’ve been working on our plan for occupying our offices and teaching students face-to-face again after the pandemic wanes. Every member of staff has been consulted and involved in planning to work on site again. We’ve concluded that a gradual increase in face to face services at our offices would start at the end of July and culminate with us welcoming students back for in-person teaching on September 7. Then, COVID threw everyone a curve ball in the form of the Delta variant which is many times more transmissible.

So we’re now in the process of listening carefully to public health authorities and likely will need to delay our public opening some weeks or longer. We know our community is longing to return to the power and interactivity of face-to-face learning: and so are we.

We can’t tell you how disappointed we are about having to do this but the health and safety of our staff, our students and our community is our highest priority, and with case numbers again rising in The Bay Area, we know this pause is necessary.

We continue to offer all our classes online led by all your favorite LightHouse instructors and specialists. As the situation changes, we will keep you updated. For now, we have everything crossed that we’ll see you sometime in the Fall.

This Year Marked the Return of the YES Academy to EHC

This Year Marked the Return of the YES Academy to EHC

This summer, LightHouse was thrilled to bring back the Youth Employment Services (YES) Summer Academy. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and health and safety protocols, last year we ran the program virtually. This year we were back in person with a slightly re-designed program to accommodate the safety of our students and staff while still keeping the fun, interactive elements and activities we’ve always valued in the academy. Our participants spent this four-week program at Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC) where the spacious and lush grounds allowed for safe, socially distanced outdoor instruction.

YES is a program designed to educate and prepare youth who are blind or have low vision ages 16 to 24 for a successful future, focusing primarily on employment and independent living skills. During the Summer Academy, our participants are given the opportunity to fill their summer with engaging and valuable pre-employment learning experiences, independent living training, employment readiness seminars, mentoring conversations, discussions about self-advocacy in equality and inclusion in the workplace, not to mention all the memorable social activities and building connections with friends and mentors.

The four weeks were broken down into goal-based themes. The first week was “Your Skills, Your Goals Bootcamp.” Week two focused on expanding employment knowledge and networking in the community. YES ended its program with workshops in learning to grow one’s resume and work experience in weeks three and four.

The students documented their experiences throughout these four weeks by writing blogs. First time participant, a young woman with low vision named Tatiana, reflected on her time at the YES Summer Academy.

“I’ve always said and knew I didn’t want to have to rely on my family, friends, and others to help me go on in life and do whatever it is I may need to do, but deep down there was always that worry of what seemed at the time to be an inevitable fact that I’d have no choice and I would need to come to terms with always needing some kind of reliance. However, after going through this program and learning and practicing what I have for the first time in my life, that thought and doubt is no longer there. I have confidence in knowing I will be able to go on in life confidently by myself.

“Not only has the program taught me new skills but it has given me a newly found hope and excitement. I’m not fully blind but I still struggle in places where visual problems are not noticed often. After staying at the camp where everyone is visually impaired it’s made me feel more accepted. I have never realized that the stereotypes used to describe the blind community are the farthest thing from true. I’ve been inspired and cannot wait to return to Enchanted Hills Camp and the YES Academy where I have learned that my vision does not define me.”

Another YES participant, Heaven, had the opportunity to gain work experience by working as Recreation Assistant at the Enchanted Hills Teen Camp session that was going on simultaneously with YES in the last weeks of the program.

“The first few days of my work experience as the Recreation Assistant, I observed how the Area Leader taught the campers what to do, and after that I led some of the activities. I learned more about Archery, and a new sport known as Disc Golf. I’ve learned many things through working this job, mainly how to talk to a large crowd of people. I met a lot of the campers and staff and learned about them as well. It is a very interactive job, which I like because it helps me be better at talking with other people. This job gave me skills I will be able to use in the future. It tested my communication skills, and ability to problem solve. It also tested my memorization skills, because I had to memorize people’s names and what order they were in for certain recreational activities. The experience was a good one, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to work this job. I love sports and now I have a way to teach them to other blind people, and a way to explain them if I ever need to. It was a valuable experience.”

YES offers different programs and workshops year-round. If you are or if you know any blind and low vision youth ages 16 to 24 who are interested in preparing for their future, you can contact Youth Programs Assistant, Daisy Soto, at DSoto@lighthouse-sf.org, or by calling 415-694-7328. LightHouse youth activities are not just summer only, but every month, all year long. Visit our Youth Programs department page on our website or check out our online calendar for upcoming events and programs.