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Accessible Reading and Braille

Two-Week YES Academy Takes Blind Kids from San Francisco to Orlando to More Independence

Two-Week YES Academy Takes Blind Kids from San Francisco to Orlando to More Independence

Photo: YES group sit around one of the many tables in the conference hall. LightHouse Youth Coordinator Jamey Gump sits at 9 o’clock, then going clockwise around the table: student Kyle Garcia, LightHouse mentor Sergio Lopez, student Billy Lei, LightHouse mentor Danielle Fernandez, students Robin Patche, Kevin Brousard, Christina Parra, Santiago Hernandez and Jacob Obeso.

In July close to a dozen LightHouse Youth attended our inaugural YES Academy – a two-week session for students ages 16 to 24 with the aim of teaching them to be more independent, confident and successful. During the first week of the training, students stayed at the new LightHouse Building in San Francisco. The students experienced full days that included classroom work, assignments and challenges both inside and outside our offices, mixed with time to relax, talk, have fun, compare notes and enjoy making friends and bonding with fellow blind students.

students in teaching kitchen

Photo: YES Academy students gather in our teaching kitchen for lunch.

Throughout the first week students benefited from a robust curriculum including outstanding blind college students as well as blind speakers representing a wide variety of career choices, a tour of the UC Berkeley campus, discussions that focused on becoming more independent and on finding work, including the use of adaptive technology, the importance of organization, best practices for writing resumes and cover letters and how to go on a job interview. They also experienced the excitement and fun of navigating the Bay Area while practicing their mobility skills. They traveled throughout the San Francisco on public transportation, participated in the San Francisco Pride Parade, walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, visited Pier 39 and went to the movies (using the recently-launched Disney Movies Anywhere audio-description iPhone app to watch the film Finding Dory.)

 

students cross golden gate bridge

Photo: Brandishing white canes and dog guides, YES Academy students cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

YES Academy and Fortune Dragon

Photo: Students Christina Parra, Robin Patche and Moe Josefowicz stand next to the colorful Fortune Dragon statue that sits in front of San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.

Week two brought the adventure all had been waiting for: the cross-country flight to Orlando, Florida where the group attended the annual National Federation of the Blind (NFB) National Convention. For some it was their very first time on an airplane. LightHouse Youth Services Coordinator Jamey Gump, who supervised the group throughout the two-week period told us, “The kids pretty much were struck by the scale and diversity of the conference right away. Imagine you are maybe the only kid in your school or in your community who is blind. Now imagine the impact of walking into a hall where there are thousands of blind people with their white canes or dog guides. Or attending a huge banquet where pretty much everyone there can relate in one way or another to your life experience? That’s amazingly empowering.”

Serena and Santiago

Photo: LightHouse Evening and Weekend Coordinator Serena Olsen stands with student Santiago Hernandez next to seated audience members in the NFB Conference Hall.

Included in their schedule: exploring the Exhibit Hall where vendors displayed adaptive technology and attending the Conference General Session, the National Association of Blind Students seminar and a youth mixer with kids from all across the country including Arizona and Maryland.

LightHouse Evening and Weekend Coordinator Serena Olsen, who supervised the kids overnight and in Orlando loved seeing changes in the kids, even in such a short period of time. She said, “Overall I saw a growing awareness among the group that it’s “okay” to be blind. I watched them become more comfortable in their own skin as blind people. For some or all of them there’s this idea of leaving home for the first time and that you can’t take your parents with you to, say, college. YES Academy gave them the chance to try new strategies and succeed, or even fail sometimes, in a safe space.”

Student Sarkis (Sako) Meehran Gekchyan summed up the feelings of many who attended, by saying, “The experience I had at The YES Academy was invaluable. I can safely say that no other program for the blind that I have participated in has impacted me so strongly, so positively and so permanently as this one. The lessons I have learned from staying at the LightHouse and the NFB convention have stuck. Doing this program was exactly what I needed. I was able to see blind people who took charge of their lives and were making a positive change not only for themselves but for others. I learned a lot both from my fellow students and the speakers and the mentors. It was the first time I ever felt a deep sense of pride in my blindness, the first time I actually felt like a part of the blind Community. The very people I once tried to distance myself from are now one of my greatest sources of inspiration and most importantly my second family.”

If you have any questions about YES Academy, please contact Youth Services Coordinators Jamey Gump at jgump@lighthouse-sf.org/415-694-7372 or Richie Flores at rflores@lighthouse-sf.org/415-694-7328.

Throughout the year we hold individual LightHouse YES workshops. Our first workshop is on Saturday, September 10.

Read more about YES workshops.

Off the Page Volunteer Event Presented by Oracle a Huge Success

Off the Page Volunteer Event Presented by Oracle a Huge Success

Photo: Oracle volunteers working with braille in the MADLab printing room.

Last month we held our first Off the Page Volunteer Event, presented by Oracle, and it was a win-win experience for all parties. Twelve excited Oracle volunteers arrived at the new LightHouse Building to provide reading services, assistance with resumes and guided tours of Sound Commons, the new art installation presented by the Exploratorium that is across the street from the LightHouse. But that’s not all. Oracle volunteers also assisted with making up the beds in our Student Residences, helped our Rehabilitation Department prep for the next Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion session and collated braille material in our MADLab.

A huge Thank You to our wonderful volunteers from Oracle. Here’s what a few of our students had to say:

“It was nice to hear from someone who has experience in the field I want to work in. My volunteer helped me by going over my resume and giving me tips on how to improve it, and he added value to my resume by providing content. While he did not need to read anything for me, he gave me valuable tips and information on what to expect in an office setting. I really enjoyed working with Oracle volunteers and if they were to volunteer again I would definitely participate.”
LightHouse student Chris S.

“Thank you so much for arranging for volunteer reader Chanel to work with me. She was terrific! I hope she continues to connect with the LightHouse. I got everything accomplished I wanted to. She listened carefully to how I wanted things done and with great intelligence, we got through everything just fine. I took a few minutes to write out the alphabet in braille on a 3×5 card for her and she was fascinated. So, thanks for arranging the day.”
LightHouse student Gil J.

oracle volunteers selfie

Oracle volunteers pose for a group selfie.

Participate in Off the Page
Off The Page is a LightHouse volunteer event which connects corporate volunteer readers to those who need reading and resume overview services.

Our next Off the Page event is Saturday, October 29 and we’d love for you to join us. To sign up, please contact Justine Harris-Richburgh, our Volunteer Engagement Specialist, at 415-694-7320 or volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org.

We also can match you with a volunteer on another day.
If you’d like to meet with a volunteer reader here at the LightHouse on some other day, we can set this up. Please contact Justine Harris-Richburgh, our Volunteer Engagement Specialist, at 415-694-7320 or volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org.

Would you like to volunteer?
We are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers who want to give back for a single day or any amount of time. If you’re interested in becoming a Personal Service Volunteer or would like to learn more about how to get your professional or school group involved in volunteering for the LightHouse, please contact Justine Harris-Richburgh, our Volunteer Engagement Specialist, at volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org, 415-694-7320 or complete your group or individual volunteer application  – we would love to have you!

Volunteer

Now Available at Adaptations: New LightHouse T-Shirts, Boldwriter 20 Pens

Now Available at Adaptations: New LightHouse T-Shirts, Boldwriter 20 Pens

Photo: Smiling LightHouse Staffer Justine Harris-Richburgh holds a small, yellow megaphone while wearing our beautiful new t-shirt at the LightHouse Grand Opening parade in June.

You Asked for It – Now You Can Buy our New LightHouse T-Shirt

Many of you saw the debut of our gorgeous new charcoal-grey t-shirts emblazoned with our updated, persimmon and white LightHouse logo at our Grand Opening celebration. The calls came in fast and furiously from all over the Bay Area asking us to sell these beautiful, comfortable t-shirts.Image of new LightHouse T-shirt

Now you can buy these high quality, extra-soft shirts at the Adaptations Store for $15.00 apiece. Quantities are limited so be sure to grab yours!

Introducing the Boldwriter 20 Pen
With the demise of the PaperMate 20/20 Pen, the Adaptations Store folks have searched long and hard for an adequate replacement.

Boldwriter 20 Pen

We’re happy to present the Boldwriter 20: a thick-ink pen comparable to the 20/20 pen you know and love. Boldwriter 20 pens sell for $2.00 a piece and 6-packs are now available for $9.00. Call us or stop by the store for a demonstration.

Please note: Adaptations will be closed Thursday, September 29 and Friday, September 30 while we conduct inventory. We will reopen on Monday, October 3.

Adaptations, the LightHouse Store is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We are located at the new LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th floor, San Francisco, 94103. Call us at 415-694-7320 or email us at volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org with any questions.

Changing Vision Changing Life II  – Begins Sunday, September 18

Changing Vision Changing Life II – Begins Sunday, September 18

Photo: Cooking Instructor Sydney Ferrario preps food with students.

Have you already received basic skills training in orientation and mobility, access technology or independent living and are committed to focus more intently in all three of these skill areas in a small group and individual learning environment? Changing Vision Changing Life may be for you. We’ve added a brand-new session to our Changing Vision Changing Life Series of small group trainings: The Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) II Immersion.

This motivating five-night session is designed for students who may have participated in CVCL instruction in the past and are now focused on practicing the skills they’ve learned in a more intensive and structured manner.

Note: You don’t need to have attended a previous CVCL session to attend this one. However, you need to have had some basic training in Orientation and Mobility, independent living skills and/or access technology.

This session is great for students who are currently training in all of the areas above and can benefit from multiple days of one-on-one and small group instruction.

In this session, students will work on all of the following:

  • Access Technology, including
  • Computer training (Mac or PC) – using the software you are currently learning
  • Smart Phone Training – Apple or Android
  • Tablet Training – Apple or Android
  • Peer Group Support – Moving Forward
  • Advocacy – Taking Control
  • Orientation and Mobility Training 1:1
  • Introduction to Braille
  • Smart Cooking for Independence
  • Low Vision Training – Using your Tools to Your Benefit
  • Physical and Recreational Exploration to Enhance Mobility

When: This session will run from Sunday, September 18 (arrival at 3:30 p.m.) through Friday, September 23 (leave at 10:30 a.m.)
Where: The session will be held in our headquarters building at 1155 Market St., 10th Floor in San Francisco. Participants will stay overnight throughout the week in our Student Residences.
Cost: There is a $1300 fee for this training but you may qualify for partial or full scholarship if you are not already working with the Department of Rehabilitation or the Veterans Administration.


We will also be offering Changing Vision Changing Life sessions in November and December, 2016:

CVCL I (for those who are very new to low vision/blindness and have not had skills instruction):
When: Monday, November 7 through Friday, November 11
Where: This session will take place at Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa
Cost: There is a $1300 fee for this training but you may qualify for partial or full scholarship if you are not already working with the Department of Rehabilitation or the Veterans Administration.

CVCL II (for those persons who have had training and are ready for more focused instruction)
When: Monday, December 5 through Friday, December 9
Where: This session will take place at the new LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., San Francisco, 94103. Participants will stay in our Student Residences.
Cost: There is a $1300 fee for this training but you may qualify for partial or full scholarship if you are not already working with the Department of Rehabilitation or the Veterans Administration.

To find out which session is the best fit for you please contact Debbie Bacon at dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-357.

LightHouse Expands to Support East Bay

LightHouse Expands to Support East Bay

Photo: The front of the Ed Roberts Campus.

With the imminent closure of the Lions Center in Oakland, the LightHouse has stepped up to bring services to those who are blind or have low vision in the East Bay. To do this we’ll be expanding the services we offer at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. We sent out a press release earlier in the month and have received the attention of major bay area outlets such as KCBS and the East Bay Times.

Listen to Holly Quan’s report which aired on KCBS on August 29, 2016.

Read the article in the East Bay Times.

Victor Reader Stream (VRS) 101 – A Class for Those who Already Own a New (2nd Generation) Victor Reader Stream

Victor Reader Stream (VRS) 101 – A Class for Those who Already Own a New (2nd Generation) Victor Reader Stream

Do you own a New Generation Victor Reader Stream (VRS), but not not know how to use it? Let the LightHouse ensure that you become “victorious” in the use of this technology.

LightHouse Access Technology Trainer, Jeff Buckwalter, will facilitate a two-week intensive training course on Tuesdays and Fridays in September for students who have not yet taken a VRS class from us before.

When: Tuesdays and Fridays, September 13, 16, 20 and 23.Time: 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Location: The LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, 94103

Cost: There is a $450.00 fee for this training but you may qualify for partial or full scholarship if you are not already working with the Department of Rehabilitation or the Veterans Administration.

If you don’t know all that the VRS can do, here are just a few things you will learn how to do in this class: access an enormous library of books and magazines in the palm of your hands; download and listen to audiobooks by your favorite authors; subscribe and listen to your favorite podcasts; listen to the latest newspapers and magazines; record critical phone numbers and calendar information with the touch of a button as well as accessing and reading text and audio files.

This class is open only to persons who currently own a New (2nd) Generation Victor Reader Stream and have not taken a VRS class from us before. If you are an active client of the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) or the Veterans Administration (VA), contact your case worker for eligibility and to sign up. If you are 55 and older living in the counties of San Francisco, Alameda or Marin, you may be eligible to take this class at no charge.

Contact Shen Kuan at 415-694-7312 or skuan@lighthouse-sf.org to sign up.

Our Volunteers Want to Read Your Mail During Our Off the Page Event on Saturday, August 13

Our Volunteers Want to Read Your Mail During Our Off the Page Event on Saturday, August 13

Do you need an extra set of eyes to get you through a stack of mail, magazines or newsprint? On Saturday, August 13, the LightHouse is hosting an Off the Page Volunteer Event, the first of many. This month’s Off the Page event will be presented by volunteers from Oracle.

When: Saturday, August 13, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Where: LightHouse for the Blind, 1155 Market Street, 10th Floor, San Francisco, 94103

At the new LightHouse building we have cozy, closed-door reading rooms available so that you and a vetted volunteer can go through your mail or paperwork privately. Refreshments will be available. This is a great way to potentially schedule additional reading time with a volunteer ongoing.

There are four slots available on August 13, so be sure to RSVP soon before they’re all filled up. Email 1altruism@lighthouse-sf.org (please put the words, “Off The Page” in the subject line) or call our volunteer reservation line at 415-694-7646.

Changing Vision Changing Life II – A New Addition to Our Immersion Training

Changing Vision Changing Life II – A New Addition to Our Immersion Training

PHOTO: Cooking Instructor Sydney Ferrario preps food with students.

Are you ready to kick your skills up a notch? We’ve added a brand-new session to our Changing Vision Changing Life Series of small group trainings: The Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) II Immersion.

This motivating six-day overnight session is designed for students who may have participated in CVCL instruction in the past and are now focused on practicing the skills they’ve learned in a more intensive and structured manner.

Note: You don’t need to have attended a previous CVCL session to attend this one. However, you need to have had some basic training in Orientation and Mobility, independent living skills and/or access technology.

This session is great for students who are currently training in all of the areas above and can benefit from multiple days of one-on-one and small group instruction.

In this session, students will work on all of the following:

Access Technology, including

  • Computer training (Mac or PC) – using the software you are currently learning
  • Smart Phone Training – Apple or Android
  • Tablet Training – Apple or Android

Peer Group Support – Moving Forward
Advocacy – Taking Control
Orientation and Mobility Training 1:1
Introduction to Braille
Smart Cooking for Independence
Low Vision Training – Using your Tools to Your Benefit
Physical and Recreational Exploration to Enhance Mobility

When: This session will run from Sunday, September 18 (arrival at 3:30 p.m.) through Friday, September 23 (leave at 10:30 a.m.)

Where: The session will be held in our headquarters building at 1155 Market St., 10th Floor in San Francisco. Participants will stay overnight throughout the week in our Student Residences.

Cost: There is a $1300 fee for this training but you may qualify for partial or full scholarship if you are not already working with the Department of Rehabilitation or the Veterans Administration.

To find out if this session is the best fit for you please contact Debbie Bacon at dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-357.

LightHouse Has a New Digital Printer That Will Create the Next Generation of Tactile Maps and Signage

LightHouse Has a New Digital Printer That Will Create the Next Generation of Tactile Maps and Signage

PHOTO: Naomi Rosenberg (Designer, Accessible Media Specialist), BJ Epstein (Project Manager, MADLab) and Julie Sadlier (Designer, Accessible Media Specialist) stand next to the new UV flatbed printer holding examples of newly printed tactile maps and signage.

The LightHouse, through MADLab, has earned a reputation for producing fabulous tactile maps of all kinds for clients as diverse as South by Southwest, where we created maps of the Austin Convention Center for blind attendees to transit systems such as the Bay Area’s BART system and the City of Calgary, Canada’s Transit system. Up until now, these maps were printed on paper with its limited shelf life. But we wanted to be able to produce durable, physically long-lasting, braille and tactile maps and ADA signage for museums, amusement parks, trailheads and more.

tactile map

PHOTO: Tactile street map of LightHouse’s new location

Enter our new UV flatbed printer. It’s essentially an inkjet printer that prints melted plastic, accreting layer on top of layer, until the final, tactile image is built up. The new printer can print onto a range of materials including wood and metal.

Among the projects we’ve used it for are mid-Market tactile maps that cover the location of our new headquarters building (see photo, above). We’ve produced maps for the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando for the International Deaf Blind Exposition, we’ve created a variety of ADA signage and we’ve honored our significant donors with acrylic panels that are placed on the walls of our soaring three-level staircase.

 

donor_plaque

PHOTO: A photo of one of the panels of our donor appreciation wall, with our staircase and a view of City Hall prominent in the background.

MADLab Project Manager BJ Epstein told us, “The DCS is a game changer for us, and for the blind and low vision community. Not only can we now produce accessible signage, but also mountable tactile maps. Because of the unique ability to print both visual and tactile elements in one machine, our clients will be able to provide an inclusive experience to their guests, no matter what their level of sight may be. Our expertise at designing for the blind community was developed on our paper maps. Now, we are translating that expertise to more permanent and durable media.

“These maps can be used indoors or outdoors. They are cleanable; a bonus for something that will get touched a lot. And not only are they useful, but they are beautiful objects to touch and to see. We are so excited to be able to offer this amazing product to our clients.”

Now Available at Adaptations: the Newest Aftershokz Headphones model, the Trekz Titanium

Now Available at Adaptations: the Newest Aftershokz Headphones model, the Trekz Titanium

The Adaptations Store is an official vendor for Aftershokz products, and to celebrate, we are showcasing several models of their Bluetooth headphones, including the just released Trekz Titanium headphones.

The Trekz Titanium Headphone is perfect for use while exercising – they’re lightweight, sweat-proof, bone conduction headphones that communicate with your device via Bluetooth.

All our Aftershokz headphones rest on your jawbone and send sound directly to your eardrum, without blocking your ears. These headphones are very popular among many different communities, including runners and commuters, but they can be particularly handy for the blind and those with low vision. Folks who navigate the streets using VoiceOver or other audio navigation tools can maintain an awareness of their surrounding environment without compromising their own personal safety.

Adaptations is carrying three styles of Aftershokz headphones: the new Trekz Titanium model ($129), the standard Bluetooth model Bluez 2 ($99.95), and the wired Sportz M3 with Microphone ($50).

To purchase these headphones by phone, call us at 415-694-7301 or take a look at them in person at our new store on the 10th floor at 1155 Market Street in San Francisco. Adaptations is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Call us at 415-694-7301 or email us at adaptations@lighthouse-sf.org with any questions.