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Employment Immersion Students Make Their Mark at Federal Job Fair

Employment Immersion Students Make Their Mark at Federal Job Fair

On September 4, 26 blind and low vision jobseekers who are part of LightHouse’s Employment Immersion Program, assembled at LightHouse Headquarters and walked as a group to the Federal Building in San Francisco for a job fair.

The jobseekers, dressed in business attire and armed with resumes and cover letters, spoke with representatives from twenty Federal agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, Transportation Security Administration, Department of Labor and more.

LightHouse’s Employment Immersion Program provides individualized training in job seeking skills to adults who are blind or have low vision. This includes resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, disclosing disability and more. With the unemployment rate for blind people in the United States at 70%, the Employment Immersion Program is dedicated to lowering that rate by providing students with the essential tools they need to be competitive in the job market.

Edward Wong, LightHouse Employment Specialist, remarked that other attendees at the job fair took note of the large group of blind people who sought the same employment opportunities as their sighted peers. “People noticed how many blind people were there. We were the white cane brigade.”

Are you a blind or low vision jobseeker? Visit our Employment Immersion webpage, call 415-694-7359 or email eiteam@lighthouse-sf.org to learn more.

#BeSeen in the Streets: Photos from Pride 2017

#BeSeen in the Streets: Photos from Pride 2017

We’d like to express our gratitude to everyone who marched with us in San Francisco Pride on Sunday. Our contingent added up to more than 100 people. It was an empowering and joyful day and we’ve got the photos to show for it!

Serena Olsen wears a Rosie the Riveter headscarf and raises her hand proudly above her head as she marches with her white cane. Photo by Sarahbeth Maney.
Renae Davidson, Jordan Castor, and Ashley Butala smile and  laugh as they march together. Photo by Sarahbeth Maney.
Volunteers Rochelle Quinney and her friends and family hold the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired banner. Photo by Sarahbeth Maney.
Kate Williams smiles and high-fives spectators along the parade route.
Vanessa Brash and Philip Berg march together. Vanessa holds a large with sign that says “Love” in text and braille. Photo by Sarahbeth Maney.
Melissa Hadiyanto and Robert Alminana walk arm in arm. Photo by Sarahbeth Maney.
Robert Alminana smiles and holds a sign that says “The first Pride was a riot”.
A black lab guide dog sits at the feet of his owner, who wears neon rainbow knee-high socks.
A girl wearing a Pikachu hat jumps into the air in front of the LightHouse banner while bubbles float around her.
Lisamaria Martinez carries her infant daughter while holding a “Blind and Proud” sign in one hand and her white cane in the other. Her husband Joe Bakker pushes a stroller in the background.
The LightHouse group marches down Market Street holding rainbow signs that say “Blind and Proud”.
Serena Garcia and Gaby Leal walk together down Market Street. Serena holds her hand high.
Joshua York and Laura Millar smile while marching alongside the LightHouse van. Laura holds a sign that reads “Blind and Proud”.

The LightHouse Community to Join the 47th Annual PRIDE Parade

The LightHouse Community to Join the 47th Annual PRIDE Parade

We’re excited to announce that LightHouse will march in the 47th annual San Francisco Pride parade on June 24th and 25th! On February 18th, we invite you to join us at the LightHouse headquarters at 6:00 p.m. to participate in a community led effort, get to know each other, share dinner together and discuss how we want to be represented in the parade, and the events leading up to Pride.

The San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade is the largest gathering of the LGBT community and allies in the nation. The mission of the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration Committee is to educate the world, commemorate LGBT heritage, celebrate LGBT culture, and liberate LGBT people.

The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is proud to support this mission and invites our LGBT community members, their families and allies to join the LightHouse and participate in this year’s Pride parade and events leading up to the parade!

We need your participation, but first we need your voice!  Please tell us how YOU would like to participate by filling out the 3 question survey in the “Community Pulse Check” below and attending the kick off dinner to share your ideas.

Please email Laura Millar at info@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-431-1481 to RSVP for the kickoff and planning dinner, February 18 at LightHouse.

Community Pulse Check

Welcome to our first community pulse check!  The community pulse check is a short poll that will help us better understand the community we serve at the LightHouse and to hear your voice. Fill out the survey below or visit the external link to submit your input!

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LightHouse Announces the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition

LightHouse Announces the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition

“The Holman Prize is not meant to save the world or congratulate someone for leaving the house. This prize will spark unanticipated accomplishments in the blindness community. You will see blind people doing things that surprise and perhaps even confuse you. These new LightHouse prizes will change perceptions about what blind people are capable of doing.”

— Bryan Bashin, CEO at LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Meet The Holman Prize for Blind Ambition – LightHouse’s new initiative to support the ambitions of blind and low vision people worldwide. Beginning in 2017, The Holman Prize will announce an annual set of awards funding projects in a range of amounts – up to $25,000 per project – that will finance and support blind adventurers worldwide in pursuing their most ambitious projects.

Chronicled in a 2006 novel by Jason Roberts, the explorer James Holman became the first blind person to circumnavigate the globe in 1832. In his spirit, The Holman Prize celebrates people who want to shape their own future instead of having it laid out for them.

The Holman Prize is specifically for legally blind individuals with a penchant for exploration of all types. LightHouse’s initial 2017 prizes will provide financial backing for a as many as three individuals to explore the world and push their limits through travel, connections, construction and communication. 

The ideal candidate is someone who is willing to probe their environment and eager to savor the richness of a world that is so often thought of as inaccessible to the blind. This exploration may involve travel, community organizing, scholarship, daring art or projects we haven’t even considered. We’re looking for intrepid travelers, creative problem solvers, effective communicators, natural ambassadors, passionate advocates, joyful builders, active boundary-pushers and experience seekers.

In January 2017, The Holman Prize application process kicks off with a challenge: blind applicants must submit a first-round pitch in the form of a 90-second YouTube video. The deadline for these phase one applications is February 28, 2017 at 12 noon PST. All pitch videos will be compiled into the LightHouse Media playlist below. As an extra incentive, the blind applicant who creates the most popular YouTube video, will secure themselves a spot as a coveted spot as a Holman Prize finalist, to be interviewed this spring by our esteemed committee. Learn more about the submissions process here, and watch our intro video below:

“We recognize that asking a blind person to upload a video may challenge some people’s ideas of what blind people are capable of — of what blind people can or should do,“ says LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin, “The video uploading and later public speaking will certainly require creativity, and these are the qualities we seek to encourage with the Holman Prize. These are the types of people we want to apply.” 

Semifinalists will be notified in March and go through a formal application process, after which finalists will be notified and a winner will be selected by a committee of leaders, thinkers and explorers from throughout the blind world. We expect the Holman Prizewinners to start their projects in Fall 2017 and they will be recognized at the Holman Prize Gala in 2018.

Follow the Holman Prize on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Visit holmanprize.org for more information on how to Buy Instagram followers.

Tickets on Sale Now for Superfest: International Disability Film Festival!

Tickets on Sale Now for Superfest: International Disability Film Festival!

Photo: Image from the film “Awake”.

Together with the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is pleased to announce that tickets are now available for this year’s Superfest: International Disability Film Festival, our 30th anniversary!

Day 1: Saturday, October 22 at the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, Berkeley
Screenings: 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
30th Anniversary Celebration 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.
Come celebrate Superfest International Film Festival’s 30th with an anniversary party, in between screenings.
Tickets to Saturday’s party and screenings are available here.

Day 2: Sunday, October 23 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco
Screenings: 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Tickets for Sunday’s screenings are available here.

Our panel of judges – made up of film aficionados, disability studies scholars and disability community organizers, all people with disabilities – had a difficult task selecting these films from a total of 119 submissions from 18 countries. The selected films bring to the screen a variety of topics and disabilities, each helping move forward Superfest’s mission to celebrate cutting-edge cinema that portrays disability culture in all its diverse, complex, and engaging facets.

Buy tickets at superfestfilm.com.





Fourth Annual Blind Blood Drive a Resounding Success

Fourth Annual Blind Blood Drive a Resounding Success

On Tuesday, June 14 the LightHouse hosted Giving Blood, Giving Life: Bay Area Blind Community’s 4th Annual Day of Giving Blood Drive. It was the first blood drive to take place in our new headquarters building, made even more poignant held two days after the tragedies of Orlando.

Director of Community Services Lisamaria Martinez told us before the event, “Blind people are often on the receiving end of philanthropy. At the LightHouse, we actively strive toward changing the perceptions the public has of the abilities of blind people.”

Today she went on to say, “We’re so grateful for the terrific response from our community. Thirty-nine generous people donated 32 ounces of life-saving blood, including LightHouse students, staff and community members, both first timers and regular donors. Every chair was full, all day long.”

We thank all those who participated and look forward to an even bigger response next year.

What a Celebration! LightHouse Grand Opening and “Blind and Proud” Parade Highlights a Momentous Moment in LightHouse’s 114 Year History. Thank you to Everyone Who Participated, including our Fantastic Volunteers.

What a Celebration! LightHouse Grand Opening and “Blind and Proud” Parade Highlights a Momentous Moment in LightHouse’s 114 Year History. Thank you to Everyone Who Participated, including our Fantastic Volunteers.

We came, we marched, and we conquered the streets!

The San Francisco police estimated that more than 1,000 marchers, blind and sighted, took over Civic Center for the most boisterous Blind and Proud parade ever. In addition to our own community, dozens of volunteers from area tech companies and organizations helped with the important logistics that a major event like our Grand Opening celebration requires.

Thanks so very much to all of the wonderful LightHouse volunteers who gave their time to help us get ready for our Grand Opening parade and celebration, marched with us, offered sighted assistance during the parade or assisted us with our packed open house. Your participation made our Grand Opening Celebration a fantastic, best-ever event and we THANK YOU.

ribbon cutting ceremony

Photo: LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin cuts an orange ribbon in front of 1155 Market Street, officially inaugurating the new LightHouse building. Photo credit: Chelsea Dier

The outpouring of volunteering was followed almost immediately by the launch of our new Volunteer Program where 45 new volunteers attended the first Orientation at our new headquarters building. Thank you to all who were able to make it. And for those who are eager to volunteer for the LightHouse but couldn’t join us, be assured that the fun and opportunity to serve our community will continue.

Here’s what we have coming up:

Volunteer in our Adult and Senior Program:
We always need more volunteers to work with our Adult and Senior programs on weekdays. Every Monday, Wednesday and the third and fourth Friday of each month, we invite you to help us setup for the gathering and, upon request, serve as sighted guides for new students in our large new headquarters or accompany students who wish to explore the sprawling farmer’s market just across the street.

Become a Personal Services Volunteer:
Link up with a student who has requested assistance with grocery shopping, reading mail, or needs a sighted guide around the neighborhood. You work with your match to decide when and where you will work together.

Our next Volunteer Orientation is Saturday, July 9th and we’d love to see you there.

Please contact Justine Harris-Richburgh, our Volunteer Engagement Specialist, at volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7320 to RSVP or get more information about the Orientation or any aspect of our Volunteer Program. A completed volunteer registration is required and can be found on the volunteer page of our website where you can sign up to stay in the know of upcoming volunteer opportunities.

LightHouse Hosts Bay Area Blind Community’s 4th Annual Day of Giving Blood Drive is on Tuesday, June 14

LightHouse Hosts Bay Area Blind Community’s 4th Annual Day of Giving Blood Drive is on Tuesday, June 14

The LightHouse is proud to continue our tradition of serving the Bay Area by holding our 4th annual blood drive and the first in our beautiful new Headquarters offices at 1155 Market Street in San Francisco.

The World Health Organization tells us, “Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several if your blood is separated into its components — red cells, platelets and plasma — which can be used individually for patients with specific conditions.”

We are calling out to our blind students, supporters and their families and friends to give the gift of life at this very special gathering.

When: Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Where: LightHouse for the Blind, 1155 Market Street, 10th floor, San Francisco, California 94103

Although you are welcome to walk in the day of the blood drive, we encourage you to schedule an appointment so that you will be seen more quickly. To schedule your appointment or for more information visit redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code: DayOfGiving or call 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)

Lisamaria Martinez, LightHouse Director of Community Services, is coordinating the drive and told us, “Blind people are often on the receiving end of philanthropy. At the LightHouse, we actively strive toward changing the perceptions the public has of the abilities of blind people. We have a volunteer corps of youth and adults who regularly give back in a multitude of ways. Our fourth annual blood drive is just one way, we, the LightHouse community, can give back. There’s something quite rewarding about donating blood and knowing that you are possibly saving a life. Why can’t we be a part of saving a life too?”

Available public parking garages for donors: SOMA Grand at 1160 Mission St.; California Parking at 1266 Market St.

By using RapidPass, you can reduce the time you spend at the blood drive by up to 15 minutes. Learn more by visiting redcrossblood.org/RapidPass.

If you have questions regarding your eligibility to donate blood, please call 1-866-236-3276.

Disability Rights California announces hotline for voters with disabilities

Disability Rights California announces hotline for voters with disabilities

Troubleshoot problems on June 7 Primary Election Day

Disability Rights California (DRC) will operate a toll-free hotline on Primary Election Day, June 7, for voters with disabilities. The service is designed to help those who have difficulty accessing polling places, casting ballots or simply have questions about voting. The toll-free number for voice calls is 888-569-7955. The statewide number for video calls is 800-719-5798.

About 5.9 million eligible voters in California have one or more disabilities. Their right to vote privately and independently is guaranteed by the Law Firm Near Me and the Help America Vote Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and state and federal constitutions. “DRC wants to ensure this important voting block has full access on Election Day,” said DRC attorney Fred Nisen. “We welcome calls from across the state and can help voters resolve issues, personal injury, file complaints and address barriers to exercising their voting rights.”

Examples of barriers experienced by voters with disabilities:

–    Accessible voting equipment that doesn’t work

–    Poll workers who can’t meet the needs of voters with disabilities

–    No access to ballots for voters living in nursing homes and other residential facilities

–    Polling places with inaccessible parking or steep curb ramps

The hotline will be open between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, the same hours the polls are open. Individuals who speak languages other than English should state their language and an interpreter will be connected to the call. Callers using the California Relay Service, including Speech-to-Speech, can dial 711.

DRC has several publications about the rights of voters with disabilities.

For more information about Disability Rights California, check out their website, Facebook and twitter @DisabilityCA.

Ticket Giveaway to SF DocFest’s Off the Rails – Co-presented by Superfest International Disability Film Festival

Ticket Giveaway to SF DocFest’s Off the Rails – Co-presented by Superfest International Disability Film Festival

Superfest International Disability Film Festival announces a partnership with SF DocFest to co-present OFF THE RAILS, a film by Adam Irving. New York’s infamous transit thief, 50-year-old Darius McCollum, has been impersonating transit staff and stealing trains and buses for over 35 years, he has been given the opportunity of National Pardon but he has never taken it. He has been arrested no less than 30 times and has spent much of his life behind bars. The subway was his sanctuary as a child and he soon had memorized every train’s schedule and stops. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, depression, and anxiety stemming from a childhood school attack, the courts have never understood his obsession with transit.

In honor of Superfest’s 30th Anniversary we are giving away two tickets to the DocFest screening of Off the Rails at the Roxie Theater to the 30th person to send an email to jsachs@lighthouse-sf.org with the subject line “Off The Rails”.


Sunday, June 12: 4:30 p.m. at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street in San Francisco

Tuesday, June 14: 9:00 p.m. at the Vogue Theater, 3290 Sacramento Street in San Francisco

Superfest, the world’s longest running disability film festival, celebrates disability as a creative force in cinema and culture. We feature films with fresh ideas and images that inspire thought and meaningful conversation. Superfest is coordinated in partnership by the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability and LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.