Tag Archive

audio description

Watch Netflix’s ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE Miniseries with LightHouse

Watch Netflix’s ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE Miniseries with LightHouse

LightHouse invites our students and community members to join us virtually Tuesdays in November to watch the Netflix limited series ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE tells the story of two teenagers during World War II, one a blind girl in Nazi-occupied France, the other a German orphan boy pressed into service by the Nazi army. With this story not only being about a blind teenager, but also played by a blind actress, the LightHouse Community Services team would like to invite our friends and community to join us for our latest intergenerational series of our Reel Escape Audio Description Club.
The Reel Escape Audio Description Club is open for all ages.  
What:  ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE audio-described four-part series
When:  November 7, 14, 28 & December 5 at 7:00 pm (There is no screening on November 21, which is during the week of Thanksgiving.)
Where: Online
RSVP: By 5:00 pm the day before each showing to Jamey Gump at JGump@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7372
For more information about ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE’s TV-MA rating, please visit the parental guide.

Contemporary Jewish Museum Offers LightHouse Students Private Accessible Tour of Its Latest Exhibit

Contemporary Jewish Museum Offers LightHouse Students Private Accessible Tour of Its Latest Exhibit

On Friday, July 7 the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) in San Francisco will open its doors early for the LightHouse community and Blind Posse members to host a descriptive and haptic tour of its latest exhibit. This is the first LightHouse outing to the CJM since the pandemic begin in 2019.
How can art contribute to creating a more just and empathetic world? How might artists draw from their identity, culture, and heritage to inspire fresh perspectives on tradition? Join us for a thought-provoking in-person tour of “Cara Levine: To Survive I Need You to Survive” as we shed light on Jewish tradition and rituals, examining them through the prism of contemporary art, and connect to current social issues. We will explore artworks that delve into concepts of grief, the life cycle, and interconnectedness with our community and environment.

On Friday, July 7 the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) in San Francisco will open its doors early for the LightHouse community and Blind Posse members to host a descriptive and haptic tour of its latest exhibit. This is the first LightHouse outing to the CJM since the pandemic begin in 2019.
How can art contribute to creating a more just and empathetic world? How might artists draw from their identity, culture, and heritage to inspire fresh perspectives on tradition? Join us for a thought-provoking in-person tour of “Cara Levine: To Survive I Need You to Survive” as we shed light on Jewish tradition and rituals, examining them through the prism of contemporary art, and connect to current social issues. We will explore artworks that delve into concepts of grief, the life cycle, and interconnectedness with our community and environment.

LightHouse Students Attend an Accessible Performance of FROZEN

LightHouse Students Attend an Accessible Performance of FROZEN

On December 8, 28 LightHouse community members attended a performance of the musical FROZEN at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. The performance included a preshow experience and live audio description.
The outing was spearheaded by LightHouse Adult Programs Coordinator, Maia Scott, who gave a recap.
“The whole experience was a joyous intergenerational community gathering. My mom was with me, and she agreed. This is my job; I get to take people out to play!”
And play they did! Maia described the preshow experience.
“We had the chance to go in at 5:30 pm, before the doors opened to the public, to enjoy the lounge space. A show manager, who is in charge of everything that happens offstage, shared some facts. It takes 20 semitrucks to move Frozen from city to city. There’s also a curtain of crystals that has a giant chart that covers the whole stage to align everything so that the crystal curtain hangs right. It weighs 2,000 pounds!
“The show manager also brought out some wigs worn in the show. There’s more than 90 and one of the main characters, Anna, wears six of them. These are the types of things we wouldn’t necessarily get in audio description.”
Speaking of the audio description, it was provided by local company Gravity Access Services.
“I really liked Gravity Access’ approach,” said Maia. “The audio describer and another ally come into the audience preshow to ensure everyone knew how to use their receiver headsets. This also gave people a chance to hear the voice of their audio describer before the show, so that they hear a familiar voice describing the show and not just a mystery person up in the top box.”
15 people used audio description, with the youngest being just five years old.
LightHouse student, Carol, spoke of the experience.
“It was phenomenal. I am truly appreciative of all the work Maia, as well as the Orpheum staff and the cast coordinator of the show put into this. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I’m looking forward to another social outing with other LightHouse attendees.”
Maia also summed up her feelings.
“I love that Gravity Access has a very personable approach to audio description. I love that they have a relationship with LightHouse and will be working with us on student programming in the year to come.”  

Harry Potter – Live and Audio-Described!

Harry Potter – Live and Audio-Described!

Is it time to go back to school, return in-person to the LightHouse, or head off to Hogwarts? Well, this August, LightHouse participants of all ages get the chance to do it all! Just around the time that most are going back to school, and as the LightHouse Community Services team gears up for in-person fall programs, our program team invites you to join us for an audio-described live performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

A few weeks ago, our team was able to participate in a sneak-preview of the Harry Potter live and audio-described performance, and here’s what Adult Programs Coordinator, Maia Scott, had to say about the show:

“The play was full of live-action wand dueling, pyrotechnic magic, aerial dementors and a dynamic plot line that kept all six of us on the edge of our seats. We took Gala Pro for a test drive, an app the theater is using to provide audio descriptions for all shows. We also had the opportunity to meet Brett Baker, our new best friend in charge of group ticketing, who is organizing the forthcoming haptic Harry for the LightHouse, to share thoughts, ideas, and ask questions. Youth Program Coordinator, Jamey Gump, put it best, “the play kept alive the magic of the Harry Potter stories and the Wizarding World in general.’ Even our team members who didn’t read all the books several times and just caught a film or two came away smiling and fulfilled. So, without further ado, here’s a fantastic opportunity for the LightHouse community at large to experience the magic!”

Who: LightHouse participants and staff of all ages and one guest. Please note – our ticket numbers are limited, and students of the LightHouse will be given priority

What: Haptic tour and audio-described theatrical performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

When: Thursday, August 18th from 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm – including Haptic Tour, social time with snacks, and the play itself (the runtime for the play is 3.5 hours with an 18-minute intermission)

Where: The Curran Theater, located @ 445 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Cost: $76 per person (including: ticket and charcuterie snack box)

RSVP: Sign-ups will be taken on a first- come, first- serve basis starting 9:00 am Monday June 27 and will wrap up on Friday July 29. Please email us at CommunityServices@LightHouse-sf.org to secure your ticket.

Learn more about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child..

To access the audio description for this play we will be using the Gala Pro application. If you have not used this app before, we would encourage you to download the app to your smart phone prior to arriving. The theater will have a very limited number of devices they can check out to those that do not.

Free Tickets to Enjoy an Audio Described Contemporary Ballet Performance

Free Tickets to Enjoy an Audio Described Contemporary Ballet Performance

By Maia Scott, Adult Programs Coordinator

Ballet and dance are all about the language of movement. Describing that movement so that it is accessible to people who are blind or have low vision is part of the mission of Gravity Access Services. They are an organization which makes live performances accessible to people with disabilities.
We’re pleased to offer free tickets to a performance of SKETCH 12: Dear Diary by the contemporary ballet company Amy Seiwert’s Imagery on Saturday, July 16 at 7:30 pm at the Cowell Theater, at Fort Mason Center for the Arts in San Francisco. There will be a preshow haptic tour onstage prior to the performance, close-up seating and the use of ten audio description headsets to enjoy a night of dance.
LightHouse students are welcome to come with a guest. 

Managing Director, Annika Presley, who reached out to the LightHouse with this opportunity, shared that accessibility is very important to her. She has worked as Education Director for Axis Dance Company, teaching classes within the disability community.
SKETCH 12: Dear Diary presents three innovative new dance works exploring the bittersweet complexity of nostalgia. During a highly collaborative five-week laboratory, choreographers Amy Seiwert, Natasha Adorlee and Joshua L. Peugh, created new ballet-based work while participating in a “crit group”, a creative feedback process rare in ballet settings. The result is three bold new works that welcome the choreographers and dance artists to take risks, shed old habits and consider new perspectives.
What: Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, a contemporary ballet company presents SKETCH 12: Dear Diary
When: Saturday, July 16, 2022, at 7:30 pm |Haptic Access Tour prior to the show at 6:00 pm
Where: Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center for the Arts, 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94123
RSVP: By June 30 to Maia Scott at MScott@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7608. You may have up to two tickets and please let Maia know if you want an audio description headset. 

Watch the best in Films on Disability at Virtual Superfest Disability Film Festival 10/15 to 10/17

Watch the best in Films on Disability at Virtual Superfest Disability Film Festival 10/15 to 10/17

This weekend, October 15 through 17, is the annual Superfest Disability Film Festival. Superfest is the longest running disability film festival in the world. It has run since 1970 and showcases the best in short and feature-length films starring people with disabilities in front or behind the camera—or both. This year’s festival will be virtual. All films will be on-demand from October 15 through 17 and you can watch them at your leisure during this time. When you purchase a pass, you have the option of watching the films with open caption, or open caption and audio description.

Two films feature blind characters: Flight Paths and Here Comes Frieda. Here’s a little more about both:Flight Paths
Part film, part video game, part history lesson, this whimsical animated choose-your-own adventure takes us into the world of ‘the Goze’, blind female travelling performers of medieval Japan. Produced by Extant, the UK’s leading company of visually impaired artists, Flight Path shares how access can be both innovative and fully integrated. Join this meditative reflection on travel, blindness and migration.

Here Comes Frieda
As yet another superstorm bears down on a desperate, weary city in the year 2040, a young blind woman seeks to redeem her winning sweepstakes ticket for a better life in a low Earth orbit paradise.

Check out the full list of films with summaries.

Passes for the festival are available for purchase on a sliding scale. Buy a Superfest Disability Film Festival pass.


“In The Dark”: Is This New Show Cutting Edge, Or Are We In The Dark?

“In The Dark”: Is This New Show Cutting Edge, Or Are We In The Dark?

This spring, the CW network launched a show titled “In The Dark” which focuses on a woman named Murphy who is blind. She has lived a rough life and made many questionable choices. Murphy’s life has narrowed down to a job she hates at a guide dog school her parents created for her, two friends she relies on—her roommate and a teenager—in order to function, and a reckless, partying lifestyle. So, when she stumbles upon a dead body she believes to her friend, Tyson, and the case does  not receive the attention it deserves from the police, Murphy takes the investigation into her own hands.

Since before the first episode aired, critics who are sighted and blind have been speaking out about this series. Given its controversy, I thought the staff at LightHouse for the Blind in San Francisco might find it interesting to view the pilot episode together. Thirty of us gathered over lunch to watch it with audio description and closed captioning and then entered into a lively discussion about how the show affects the stereotypes of blindness both in a positive and negative light, and how it may shape our work at LightHouse.

In Hollywood, people who are blind are portrayed as one-dimensional in the entertainment industry; their lives are wrapped up in a pretty bow by the end of the story. This pattern is part of the appeal of the show. In the beginning, Murphy is far from likable. She has no drive and uses everyone in her life to her advantage without returning the favor, including her guide dog Pretzel. When she loses one cane, then her spare breaks, she finally gives in and calls her dog over to her to come work.

The writers have a unique way of addressing the stereotypes in a way that is humorous and actually educational without being patronizing. For example, on one of Murphy’s benders, she left a bar with a married man and when his wife came home early, the man told Murphy to hide. Murphy crawled away and found a table to crouch under but when the wife came in that room, she immediately saw Murphy. “This is a glass table, isn’t it?”, Murphy says before she is thrown out. This brought a chuckle to the room when we watched together. It’s a typical scenario in movies, yet anyone who is blind can relate. Thus it makes it alright for sighted people to laugh along with people who are blind. 

There were some quirks we noticed as we watched. An accessible technology expert at LightHouse knows the tech vendor the show producers consulted about technology used by people who are blind. The cell phones used in the show make iPhone sounds but are Android phones. Another quirk is that the audio description does not mention that Murphy’s mom is white and her dad is black. It does come up in the episode that Murphy is adopted but we wondered if this is common for audio description to not mention race?

I am legally blind with limited sight, and this was one of the first times I have used audio description. I liked it, and found that I wanted all the information from audio description that a sighted person has, even if that might mean needing to pause the show while audio description catches us up.

The other issues we noticed revolved around the education of the writers in terms of blind travel and guide dog schools, or the lack thereof. Murphy’s sighted guide technique was terrible. It is hard to know whether that was due to her lack of wanting to be seen as blind or the writers’ lack of education? Also, Murphy seemed to use her cane and guide dog interchangeably. We discussed whether some of us do that as well, and asked each other when we use a dog versus a cane. Is one option preferable based on a situation, our mood or how we want to be perceived?

Ridiculously, Murphy’s parents opened up a guide dog school for Murphy. They thought it would be somewhere that she could thrive by working and being around other blind people. However, Murphy seems to despise the place. It is unclear whether that is due to her parents making her be there, that she doesn’t actually like the work and has other ideas for her life or that she wants to escape her blindness? Either way, I think we all can relate to people wanting to shelter us or swoop in and protect us at some point in our lives.

I originally watched the pilot episode in April to prepare to lead the discussion when the staff watched the episode together in May. It was hard not to go ahead and watch more episodes immediately! People have asked me if I liked the show. I’m not sure if “like” is the right word? It was intriguing, entertaining and thought-provoking. I will watch at least another episode or so to see how things develop. If the show becomes canned and predictable in its stereotypes, I will pass. I am left wondering, and will ask you as well, what is better: to have a white-washed version of blindness, or a nitty-gritty version of someone with ninety nine problems and blindness isn’t the first one?

Win Two Free Tickets to Tomorrow’s Accessible Pre-Screening of ‘Wonderstruck’ at Mill Valley Film Festival

Win Two Free Tickets to Tomorrow’s Accessible Pre-Screening of ‘Wonderstruck’ at Mill Valley Film Festival

Following in the footsteps of accessible festivals like Superfest International Disability Film Festival, more mainstream festivals like Mill Valley Film Festival (October 5 – 15) are starting to catch on to the importance of accessible viewing.

In collaboration with our partners at accessible moviegoing app Actiview, we’re offering you (and a plus one) a chance to attend Mill Valley’s VIP accessible pre-screening of the 2017 film ‘Wonderstruck’ (Julianne Moore, Amazon). The screening is tomorrow, Friday, October 13 at 7 p.m. at The Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center (1118 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA 94901). Actiview will be providing Audio Description and Closed Captioning through their app, which you can download online.

There will be press, potentially some of the people that worked on the movie, and more. It’s an opportunity to show filmmakers that access is crucial—and that blind and deaf people want to attend their movies!

The film travels through two different eras — 1927 and 1977 — and follows two deaf children who secretly wish their lives were different. In the earlier time period, Rose (Millicent Simmonds) begins a quest to find her idol, actress Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore). Fifty years later, Ben (Oakes Fegley) searches for his father in New York. “Wonderstruck” is adapted from a novel of the same name by Brian Selznick. In his Cannes Film Festival review, Variety’s Owen Glieberman praised Haynes’ direction, writing, “For a while it plays like two movies in one, and Haynes is so on his game in staging each of them that the audience gets swept right up in the bittersweet mixed-media rapture of his filmmaking.”

To enter to win tickets, contact LightHouse Producer Camilla Sterne at csterne@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7306 before 10 a.m. on Friday, October 13. Please be absolutely certain you can attend the screening before you enter!

Actiview is collaborating with Mill Valley on a number of accessible screenings throughout the weekend, particularly two on Sunday, October 15 that you can still purchase tickets for! It’s a great opportunity to try out the app and see a few well-regarded new films, for only $15 with advanced ticket purchase.

Here’s the info:

Breathe (Andrew Garfield, Bleeker Street)
Watch the trailer.
Sunday 10/15 Century Larkspur Theater at 11:30am.
Tickets available in advance for $15

Last Flag Flying (Steve Carell, Lionsgate)
Watch the trailer.
Sunday 10/15 Century Larkspur Theater at 2pm.
Tickets available in advance for $15

New Movie Tech for the Blind and Deaf, Actiview, Launches with Disney’s Cars 3

New Movie Tech for the Blind and Deaf, Actiview, Launches with Disney’s Cars 3

If you’re blind or visually impaired, you know that going to the movies isn’t as simple as smothering your popcorn in butter and leaning back in a cushy chair. While you wait thirty minutes for the manager to locate and set up assistive devices, you’ve already missed the beginning of the movie — if the device even functions properly.

But over the last year, LightHouse partner Actiview designed and prototyped a mobile solution to this problem within the walls of the LightHouse headquarters, and even 3D printed their streaming devices in our Toyota Innovation Tech Lab as part of our startup accelerator. They have since moved their base to our Berkeley satellite location.

On June 16, Actiview launched in the App Store to offer widespread accessibility for the summer Pixar release of Cars 3.

The team and their direction were influenced by many hours of feedback from LightHouse blind staff. We supported Actiview through their beta version because we think it is a huge step in the right direction towards accessibility for all moviegoers.

There is a strong buzz about this new technology as the wider community understands that Actiview will be able to provide affordable access to thousands of movie screens. Last week, industry reporter TechCrunch wrote a fascinating feature on this LightHouse-supported technology. You can read the whole story here. 

The newest release from Disney•Pixar, Cars 3, will be fully supported by the Actiview app, delivering both amplified audio and audio description, free of charge, to anyone who downloads the app and shows up at the theater. Audio description is for blind users, with a voiceover track describing what is happening on screen. Amplified audio takes the audio of the movie and makes the dialogue clearer and louder, for hard of hearing attendees.

Here’s what to know:

  • Available on the App Store (http://appstore.com/activiewempoweredentertainment)
  • Audio Description for Blind and Low Vision
  • Amplified audio for Hard of Hearing
  • Captions and Languages coming soon
  • Works with Cars 3 in all US theaters
  • Assistive services are free

How to use Actiview:

  1. Download the Actiview App from the App Store.
  2. On June 16, Cars 3 assistive audio (assistive tracks will be available to for download in advance. Download over Wi-Fi before getting to the theater if you want to save on data use)
  3. Go to the Cars 3 screening of your choice, open the app, and choose either Audio Description, Amplified Audio or the two tracks combined.
  4. Give us your feedback by emailing comments to team@actiview.co or by calling our hotline at 1(844)-399-2789 to sound off!

Please note: The first time a user opens the app, there is a 30-second tutorial helping the user to understand how to navigate the app which requires headphones to go through.

AMC Theaters Agrees to Improve Services for Blind Movie-Goers

AMC Theaters Agrees to Improve Services for Blind Movie-Goers



San Francisco, CA – April 28, 2017 – AMC Theaters (AMC) has reached an agreement with several blind individuals, the California Council of the Blind (CCB), and the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco (LightHouse) to ensure blind customers have reliable access to audio description services at AMC movie theaters nationwide.

Audio description is a verbal description of the visual events on screen, which plays between pauses in dialogue. Many movies come with audio description tracks, and customers who are blind or visually impaired can listen to audio description through special headsets that are available at the theatres. With audio description, people who are blind and visually-impaired can fully enjoy the important and beloved American pastime of going to the movies.

Under the agreement, AMC will require the managers and staff who are responsible for programming and handing out audio description equipment to be trained on the equipment. AMC and the plaintiffs in the case have developed staff and customer information guides to facilitate better service. AMC also will require managers to check the equipment regularly. Additionally, AMC will now offer audio description immediately before the feature movie begins, so customers can test the equipment before the feature movie begins to help ensure customers don’t miss any of the movie troubleshooting problems. In the rare event that a theater’s audio description equipment is out of service, AMC will now update theater websites to remove the audio description designation from showtimes. AMC has agreed to implement these changes in theaters nationwide.

This agreement resolves a lawsuit brought by CCB, the LightHouse, and several individuals, represented by Disability Rights Advocates and Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, in 2016, alleging that audio description equipment at AMC theaters frequently malfunctioned and that AMC staff did not properly check, program, or distribute the equipment to customers. AMC has provided audio description equipment to customers for years, but some blind individuals have had difficulty accessing the service because of equipment and customer service issues.

AMC Theatres and the Plaintiffs look forward to improved access to audio description services for blind and visually-impaired persons across the country.

Plaintiff Scott Blanks commented, “This settlement marks an important step toward improving access to the movies for people who are blind or have a vision impairment. I’m looking forward to going to AMC theaters and enjoying the movies with my family when AMC makes the changes to improve reliability of audio description in its theaters.”

Cynthia Pierce, AMC Senior Vice President for Facilities, Sight and Sound for AMC commented, “AMC is pleased to have worked with these organizations and individuals to develop solutions that will help bring the joy of movies to the blind community.”

California Council of the Blind President Judy Wilkinson stated, “The California Council of the Blind applauds AMC for working with us to enhance access to the movie-going experience for people who are blind. Movies are a central pillar of modern society, and ensuring that the blind community receives access to this content is critical to ensure that people who are blind are fully integrated into society.”

Bryan Bashin, Executive Director/CEO of the LightHouse states, “Access to reliable audio description is essential to ensure that blind movie-goers are able to enjoy movies in the same way that their sighted friends and family members do. Dependable audio description levels the playing field for the blind community. The LightHouse is pleased with AMC’s commitment to providing this service to blind movie-goers. We look forward to working with AMC to ensure that all blind movie-goers have a seamless experience when utilizing audio description.

Plaintiffs’ counsel Rebecca Williford of Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) explains, “We are pleased that AMC is committed to improving audio description services in its theaters. Audio description should be as reliable as any other service or technology at an AMC theater, such as a sound system or popcorn machine.”

Ernest Galvan of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, counsel for Plaintiffs, said “when effectively implemented, technology like audio description has the power to further integrate people with disabilities into their communities.  By improving access to audio description services, this agreement harnesses that potential.”

Press Contacts

Scott Blanks

Senior Director, Programs

Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired


Rebecca Williford, Disability Rights Advocates

(510) 665-8644


Michael Nunez, Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP

(415) 433-6830


About the California Council of the Blind

California Council of the blind (CCB) is a non-profit membership organization composed of Californians who are blind or have low vision. CCB’s mission is to gain full independence and equality of opportunity for all blind and visually impaired Californians. To read more about CCB visit: http://www.ccbnet.org/.

About the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (the LightHouse), a San Francisco-based non-profit corporation, is California’s oldest organization serving the blind and visually impaired community. Through training, mentorship and recreation, the LightHouse is dedicated to aiding blind and visually impaired individuals in leading productive, enriching, and independent lives. For more information visit www.lighthouse-sf.org.

About Disability Rights Advocates

Disability Rights Advocates is one of the leading non-profit disability rights legal centers in the nation. With offices in Berkeley and New York City, DRA’s mission is to advance equal rights and opportunities for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA has successfully negotiated access improvements to many contemporary technologies, including Redbox’s self-service video rental kiosks, Scribd’s digital library, the Uber ridesharing platform, and Netflix’s video streaming and disc rental. For more information, visit www.dralegal.org.

About Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP

Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP is a private law firm that specializes in complex litigation, including with respect to business disputes, employment matters, institutional reform, and civil rights.  For more information, visit www.rbgg.com/.