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Photos: LightHouse’s first-ever ‘Celebration of Blind Ambition’ in San Francisco

Last Thursday, the LightHouse gathered hundreds of friends, supporters and community members at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in downtown San Francisco for the LightHouse Gala: A Celebration of Blind Ambition. At the gala, which was LightHouse’s largest-ever, we honored blind pioneers, role models and citizens for their audacity and ambition. It was a celebration, a fundraiser and an invitation for our community to partner and become more deeply engaged with the work of the LightHouse.

With over 300 people in attendance, it was an evening of community and camaraderie. Emcee Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to summit Mount Everest, set the tone for our daring evening. LightHouse student Jorge Ellington and his band started the evening right with live Latin Jazz. We honored seven blind leaders throughout the night, and capped off with presentations from our agency’s Holman Prize for Blind Ambition.

We were proud to present our new LightHouse Awards: to acknowledge longtime leaders from the field of blindness, who have had a great impact on the community. This award honored trailblazers in education, technology and policy. LightHouse Newel Perry Award was presented to Cathy Skivers by Bryan Bashin. The LightHouse Dr. Isabelle Grant Award was presented to George Kerscher for his work to made electronic books accessible. Erin Lauridsen, Director of Access Technology presented the award to Dr. Kerscher. The LightHouse Chris Buckley Award honored Scott LaBarre and Maryanne Diamond for their work advocating for the Marrakesh Treaty to make books accessible to the global blind community without exception. Benentech’s Jim Fruchterman presented the award.

Ceremonial medals were given to the 2017 Holman Prizewinners, who were honored for the completion of their year-long projects which furthered the cause of blindness across six continents in the fields of adventure sports, entrepreneurship and cultural exchange. Holman prizewinner Penny Melville-Brown recounted her perilous, near death car accident and subsequently meeting and marrying the love of her life. Ojok Simon spoke of teaching over 45 blind people the art of beekeeping this year, and brought honey from Uganda to share with all. Ahmet Ustunel imparted his kayaking adventures in Turkey, and the technology he crafted to aid blind kayakers navigate independently.

Julie Cabrera, an Enchanted Hills camper who grew up to be a counselor helped us raise funds to rebuild the Wing Creek Chapel and accessible nature trail at Enchanted Hills, which were destroyed in last year’s Wine Country wildfires. The evening supported the life-changing programs of the LightHouse with a portion supporting to Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind. The event raised over $180,000. Thank you to our sponsors.


  • Jennifer and Ken Bunt


  • Walt Disney Company Employee Matching Gift Program
  • Microsoft


  • Drew Kebbel
  • Sharon and Richard Sacks


  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Herbst Foundation
  • Merchant’s Exchange (Julia Morgan Ballroom)
  • Patson & Co
  • Swinerton
  • U.S. Bank


  • Jennison Asuncion
  • Lisa Carvalho and David Mager
  • Gena Harper
  • Jerry Kuns
  • Josh Miele, Liz Ruhland and Fred Ruhland
  • Fred and Kristine Silva


  • One Market Restaurant, Michael and Leslye Dellar
  • Google/ Laura Allen
  • HP
  • Humanware
  • Maze & Associates
  • Mutual of America
  • U.S. Bank


  • Barbara Lassen
  • Joan Dove
  • Chris Downey and Rosa Downey
  • Eric and Jacalyn Mah
  • Michael Nuz
  • Alice Wingwall and Donlyn Lyndon
  • Stanley Yarnell and Victor Rowley


  • Bauke Family Foundation
  • Disability Rights Advocates
  • Fitness SF
  • Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP
  • Turner Construction

Baking Blind: How Penny Melville-Brown changed perceptions about disability by cooking across six continents

Belgian-born chef and entrepreneur Noam Kostucki summed up 2017 Holman Prizewinner Penny Melville-Brown like this: “She’s bonkers. She’s completely mad.” This from a man running a restaurant in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle — but he meant it as a compliment. And for those who know Penny, it’s pretty much spot on.

Penny has big ideas and the gumption to carry them out — there’s no stopping her once she puts her mind to something. The woman has fortitude, military-learned logistics skills and an uncanny ability to connect with everyone she meets and put them immediately at ease.

From the onset, Penny’s Holman prizewinning project looked to be the one with least risk involved (compared to tending killer bees and solo-kayaking a highly trafficked shipping channel). Her plan was to leave her home in the green, port-side town of Fareham, UK and travel to six continents over the course of one year. Along the way she stopped in Costa Rica, Malawi, Australia, China and the United States, and met with chefs, other blind people and community leaders all over the world. She traveled with her nephew Toby Melville-Brown who documented her whirlwind world tour in a video blog series, Baking Blind.

“Some people were tentative and quite cagey before I showed up,” she says. “As soon as we were cooking together, they forgot I was blind. Then it was just two people sharing an experience together. Usually they had something simple in mind that they wanted to cook and I bullied them into doing something much more interesting.”

The risks of cooking seemed minimal to an experienced baker like herself— a burned wrist here, a nicked finger there — and yet somehow Penny’s project was the one with the most sturm und drang. Penny’s tour was met with much more intrigue than she had planned— coming face-to-face with Tropical Storm Nate in Costa Rica, a visa-related marooning in China, an air-sea rescue in Australia, to name a few. But Penny took it all in stride, and embraced the uncertainties as an unavoidable and rich part of her journey.

“As I crisscrossed continents and connected with people in vastly different cultures, I became even more convinced that something like this needed to be done,” she says. “There is very little media coverage of a blind person interacting with the rest of the world as an equal —  an ordinary person, who is really keen on something, operating as an equal with others around the world.”

Penny has a special connection with the namesake of the Holman Prize, James Holman, a 19th Century world traveler known as the first blind man to circumnavigate the globe. Both became blind while serving in the British Royal Navy (albeit nearly 200 years apart). Penny served for 22 years in the Women’s Royal Naval Service and Royal Navy, reaching the rank of commander. She was also the first woman to hold the position of naval barrister. After being medically discharged from the Royal Navy in 1999, she created her business Disability Dynamics to help other people with disabilities find employment.

“The majority of disabled people acquire their disabilities during their working lives, as they’re growing up or while they’re working,” she says. “If you’ve build yourself the strength of character motivation, optimism, determination, those skills will take you through life’s challenges of any sort, like acquiring a disability or getting a job.”

So much of Penny’s work focuses not only on changing the minds of people with disabilities themselves, but changing widespread public perceptions about disability. And when asked to identify the highlights of her Baking Blind tour, it’s the small human connections that Penny pinpoints — the ones that ripple out into the collective psyche to help evolve peoples’ understanding of what it means to be disabled.

Her favorite moment was cooking with two 20-year-old women in China, who didn’t even know how to hold a knife — and how quickly they formed a bond and began helping each other, growing more confident with each passing moment. Or wending her way through the bush and scrubland of Kiama, Australia with an Aboriginal chef as a guide to show them which plants were edible. Or even cooking deep in the jungle of Costa Rica with Chef Noam during a tropical storm and being forced to improvise due to the ironic lack of running water.

But the end of Penny’s journey around the world didn’t turn out quite as she had expected. During a visit to France just before Christmas to explore new cooking opportunities, Penny almost died in a serious car accident where she fractured several vertebrae in her neck and broke multiple ribs and her sternum. She spent two months in intensive care and was put into an induced coma for five weeks.

Penny says, “The breathing tubes stopped me talking so communicating with the French medical team was a challenge for all of us and even more complicated by my blindness. When you’re blind and in intensive care, and trying to communicate in a foreign language, it’s not easy. I had a whole vocabulary of sound effects that I used to communicate with the nurses.”

It was an incredibly trying time for Penny and her loved ones, but Penny fought hard — facing her rehabilitation head-on, and recovering much faster than her doctors anticipated.

“When you’ve already overcome significant life challenges, you’re an old hand at it,” she says.

And though Penny still has some recovery to do, she’s hard at work producing Baking Blind videos that she and Toby shot while traveling all over the world for the Holman Prize. She’s also working on a cookbook using recipes and ideas from her world travels.

The strange lesson in all of Penny’s adventures is that the most serious mishap occurred not while she was stuck in muddy, pockmarked roads during a downpour in Costa Rica, or eating unfamiliar foods in the villages in Malawi — but while she was driving in a taxi in a major European metropolis. It goes to show that risk is unavoidable, and Penny would tell you there’s no use holding back from the things you want to seek out in the world.

“Life is all about taking risks,” says Penny. “And we survive to tell the tale.”

In little more than a month, Penny will again return to San Francisco to regale attendees at the LightHouse Gala about her accomplishments and discoveries during her year-long adventure funded by the Lighthouse’s Holman Prize.

About the Holman Prize

In 2017, San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind launched the Holman Prize to support the emerging adventurousness and can-do spirit of blind and low vision people worldwide. This endeavor celebrates people who want to shape their own future instead of having it laid out for them. In early July, we announced the 2018 Holman Prizewinners — congratulations to Stacy CervenkaConchita Hernández and Red Szell. Ojok and his fellow 2017 prizewinners will visit San Francisco in November 2017 to speak at the LightHouse Gala.

“We are thrilled to be able to continue the Holman Prize for a second year,” says LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin. “These three new prizewinners represent a wide range of ambitions and life experience: from tackling social obstacles to huge tests of physical and mental fortitude, they reflect the diversity and capability of blind people everywhere.”

Created specifically for legally blind individuals with a penchant for exploration of all types, the Holman Prize provides financial backing – up to $25,000 – for three individuals to explore the world and push their limits. Learn more at holmanprize.org.

Need Some Kitchen Confidence? Now Offering One-on-Ones with Cooking Instructor Sydney Ferrario

If you walk into the LightHouse teaching kitchen on any given day, you’ll find our Cooking Instructor Sydney Ferrario cheerfully bustling around the kitchen, hoisting giant tubs of flour or dicing mounds of plump vegetables. We’ve seen a lot of gourmet concoctions from the LightHouse kitchen thanks to Sydney’s patient guidance.

Not only is she lively, informative, and knows her way around a stand mixer, but she also has plenty of adaptive techniques for cooking and baking to share with her students. She’ll show you that there’s nothing to fear about the kitchen, the oven, or even chopping unwieldy apples with a very sharp knife (hint: it’s all about curling the fingers away from the sharp blade).

Sydney is now offering one-on-one lessons and ongoing by appointment. If you’re connected with the CA Department of Rehabilitation and looking to develop skills in the kitchen (from labeling and organization to knife, stove top and oven techniques) individual trainings in our kitchen and final lessons in your home kitchen are available. These trainings will help you shop and prep healthy meals that work with a busy schedule and independent lifestyle.

If interested, please contact your counselor immediately to get the ball rolling! All interested students can call Sydney at 415-694-7612 or email sferrario@lighthouse.org to schedule a preliminary phone appointment and lesson times. Bon Apetit!

Meet Penny Melville-Brown: Blind Baker and Holman Prizewinner

The LightHouse for the Blind announces Penny Melville-Brown of “Baking Blind” as one of the first three winners of the Holman Prize.

British Royal Navy veteran Penny Melville-Brown is not your average chef. First of all, she is, in fact, blind. But beyond that, Penny has a deep and unique understanding of food’s ability to break down cultural barriers and to connect people – blind and sighted alike – across the globe.

Today, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco announces Penny as one of three winners of the 2017 Holman Prize for Blind Ambition, a brand-new award for blind adventurers of all kinds.

Penny preps food wearing an apron in the kitchen

“While food is a mainstay across the media and popular culture, it is almost impossible to find any inclusion of visually impaired people,” Penny says.  With her Holman Prize project, Penny hopes to change that.

With the $25,000 Holman Prize, Penny will travel to Costa Rica, Malawi, Australia, China and the United States, all over the course of a year. Along the way, she will meet chefs, teach blind people and community leaders the techniques and panache of blind baking, and film these encounters to ensure that people change their assumptions about the capabilities of blind chefs.

Equal parts travelogue and instructional video series, Penny’s video blog will teach all of us, sighted or otherwise, something new about the art of cooking.

Penny dishes up some food in the kitchen, smilingPenny also has a special connection with the namesake of the Holman Prize, James Holman, a 19th Century world traveler known as the first blind man to circumnavigate the globe. Both became blind while serving in the British Royal Navy (albeit nearly 200 years apart). Now, like Holman, Penny will take off around the world, crossing multiple continents to teach others about the capabilities of those with disabilities.

Penny is one of three inaugural winners of the Holman Prize. Her fellow prizewinners, Ahmet Ustunel and Ojok Simon, hail from the US and Uganda respectively, and also have ambitious adventures planned over a range of geographies and subjects. Ustunel is planning a solo kayak journey from Europe to Asia, while Simon is planning to build out a blind-led social enterprise for beekeepers in Uganda.

They will all meet at the Lighthouse in San Francisco in September.

Penny began hosting and producing regular video segments this year for a program she calls “Baking Blind”. She takes pride in her collaborations, which will only grow with the help of The Holman Prize. A YouTube original, she can be seen in her videos making everything from apple tarts to lamb tajines and quail eggs in soy sauce.

Read about all three Holman Prize winners in-depth.

Holman Honorees: Meet the 2017 finalists.

Meet the blind judges who picked the winners.

Support The Holman Prize

The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, is actively seeking sponsorships and support for the 2018 Holman Prize, including donations of equipment for the winner’s projects. To offer your support, contact holman@lighthouse-sf.org. Individuals may donate any amount using LightHouse’s secure form. For sponsorship inquiries, email us or call +1 (415) 694-7333.


For press inquiries, email press@lighthouse-sf.org.


New Cooking Classes at the LightHouse — from Knife Skills to Measuring and Mixing

It’s 2017 and we’ve cooked up a whole host of new culinary classes at the LightHouse for the new year.

Learn more about each session below and see a schedule of our upcoming classes. If you have questions about class content please contact Sydney Ferrario, Instructor, at 415-694-7612 or sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org.

Orientation to the Kitchen 

Designed for beginning home cooks and those new to blindness or low vision.

Session I – January 3 and 5

Session II – February 7 and 9

Session III – March 7 and 9

Each session takes place on Tuesday and Thursday of the scheduled week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Designed specifically for people who have been out of the kitchen due to a change of vision and need a fresh start to feel comfortable in the kitchen and begin cooking – this class will help you get back in the kitchen with confidence!  In these classes, students will learn new ways of labeling, organization, safe work strategies and so much more! Included is a brief technology component and demonstration for recipe access.

Come prepared to try new ideas and practice the following skills:

  • Safer work strategies
  • Greater awareness of tactile, auditory, olfactory and gustatory skills
  • Organization and labeling in the pantry and refrigerator
  • Develop sensory and spatial awareness
  • Discover and explore various tools and technologies
  • Effective and Efficient cleaning

What’s the Scoop? Measure and Mix

Designed for beginning and intermediate home cooks and those new to blindness or low vision.

Session I – January  10 and 12

Session II – February 14 and 16

Session III – March 14 and 16

Each session takes place on Tuesday and Thursday of the scheduled week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Learn and practice measuring with confidence!  In the Lighthouse teaching kitchen we will explore techniques for measuring both liquids and dry ingredients in both large and small quantities. While all are welcome, this course is especially designed with the baker in mind, and we will measure those tricky things like brown sugar, flour, flavorings and oils as well as common conversions and strategies for tricky ingredients.

Come prepared to try new ideas and practice the following skills:

  • Avoiding spills, working in an orderly and tidy fashion
  • Time worn techniques with common household equipment
  • Explore new gadgets and technologies
  • Mixing, blending, beating, whisking, folding, stirring and more

On The Edge – Knife Skills

Designed for beginning and intermediate home cooks and those new to blindness or low vision.

Session I  – January  17 and 19

Session II  – February 21 and 23

Session III –  March  21 and 23

Each session takes place on Tuesday and Thursday of the scheduled week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

With an emphasis on safety and organizational work strategies, students learn and practice knife skills on a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Are you planning to eat healthier after the holidays?  Sharpen your knife skills and practice techniques for even sizes while protecting your fingers!  Tuesday we prep everything for a soup and salad and on Thursday we will throw it all together for a nourishing and healthy meal.

Come prepared to try new ideas and practice the following skills:

  • Holding and manipulating various knives, graters and other sharp gadgets
  • Hands-on guidance and practice mincing, slicing, dicing, chopping, and peeling, among others
  • Deciding which tool is best for the job and why
  • Safer work strategies, building on tactile and sensory awareness

Great cooking is not about recipes – it’s about skill and technique!

There are three sessions of the same course, each with a different menu to be determined based on seasonal availability.  Students may wish to enroll in any one session or all three.

The Heat Is On! Oven and Stovetop Strategies

Designed for beginning and intermediate home cooks who wish to gain a greater comfort level working with their gas or electric ovens and ranges.

Session I  – January  24 and 26

Session II  – February 28 and March 2

Session III –  March  28 and 30

Each session takes place on Tuesday and Thursday of the scheduled week from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Cook on your home oven and stovetop with ease and safety.  Learn and practice strategies for setting up and cooking with the oven and stovetop which includes spatial awareness skills, setting up with the proper equipment and creating new habits.

Come prepared to try new ideas and practice the following skills:

  • Safer work strategies and Injury prevention
  • Systems, patterns, portioning and spatial awareness
  • Heat control, thermometers, timers, testing for done
  • Sautéing, stirring and turning
  • Using assistive technology

All classes are  $220.00* per session  and meet in Room 1010 in 10th Floor Kitchen of the LightHouse Headquarters at 1155 Market Street.  Class is 4 hours with a short break. Bring a bag lunch the first day. You will be standing, cooking and working for most of the class. Please wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes and have long hair tied back.

*Each Class Session includes two classes for four hours (9:30-1:30).  The full class fee is $220 for persons 18-54.  For those persons who are 55 and older living in the counties of Alameda, San Francisco and Marin (and not a consumer with the Department of Rehabilitation or VA) the class fee is waived thanks to the State of CA Older Individuals Who are Blind (OIB) grant funding.  Student may be asked to bring in class materials, the instructor will notify if this is necessary.

All participants must be registered students of the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. To enroll as a LightHouse student, please contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org. If you have questions about class content please contact Sydney Ferrario, Instructor, at 415-694-7612 or sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org.

As a division of the Independent Living Skills Program, culinary classes provide cooking lessons for the home cook with an emphasis on blind kitchen skills, including, but not limited to, orientation, organization, knife skills, measuring, food safety, and navigating the oven and stove top safely. Also included is a recipe access component for interpreting and replacing visual cooking terminology with cues for taste, touch and smell. The goal is to provide guided practice so students can replicate skills at home.

Note about ingredients: LightHouse recipes use common cooking and baking ingredients including various fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, spices, dairy, eggs, wheat flours, etc. If you have a food allergy, please check with the instructor before attending the class. Adjustments to recipes cannot be made during class.

Special Dietary Needs?  For those with special dietary needs or allergies, please contact Sydney Ferrario at 415-694-7612 to discuss how we can help you with a customized program and recipes. Her background includes Wheat, Gluten, & Dairy-Free cooking and cooking for those with Diabetes.

Know Someone With Changing Vision? Our Next Immersion Training Sessions are Coming Up

Photo: Class Picture of the September CVCL Immersion Training Session 2 Class

Fall is a time for harvest and abundance. Over the past four years, 250 students have harvested their skills and received an abundance of support, opportunities to connect and a rich introduction to skills ranging from accessing print, learning about technology to organizing their households and traveling independently.

Holli Clark of Santa Cruz County has participated in both sessions and had this to say about her experience:

“Just a note to share my big thanks for the wonderful Immersion experience! One of my big reasons for wanting to go for Immersion training was because I just didn’t know what I didn’t know. I figured there were better ways of doing things than I had made up over the years. I was certainly correct in that, and am delighted to be learning many new skills. This translates to being more productive, efficient, confident, independent and safer. [The] week was packed with immeasurable value. I learned so much from each trainer and really appreciated your focus on scheduling us according to individual needs…Your staff are both exceptional trainers in their fields as well as wonderful, caring people.”

Sydney and Holli

Photo: Cooking Instructor Sydney Ferrario and CVCL student Holli Clark stand together in the Betty Ruhland Teaching Kitchen at the LightHouse

 We’re offering one last CVCL session before year’s end, and another in February. Details on both follow:

December Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) Immersion Training Session 2
This session is facilitated from the new LightHouse Building in the heart of San Francisco.  The focus of this week’s training is “boots hit the ground in training”. Students participating in this week must have already received basic skills training in orientation and mobility, access technology or independent living and must be committed to focusing intently in all three of these skill areas in a small group and individual learning environment. (Please note: students do not need to have attended a previous CVCL session to attend CVCL 2 in San Francisco.)

This five day session is designed for students who are committed to full days of instruction, homework and practice in the evening and will take full advantage of the professional training time, mentoring and peer support and self-study that will be available.

Students will participate in a minimum of three of the following areas:

  1. 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
  1. Orientation and Mobility Training 1:1
  2. Introduction to Braille
  3. Smart Cooking for Independence
  4. Low Vision Training – Using your Tools to Your Benefit
  5. Independent living skills

When: CVCL 2 will run from Monday, December 5th (arrival at 9:30 a.m. – training starts at 10:00 a.m.) through Friday, December 9 (leave at 11:00 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 $1,300 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. It is highly recommended that all students have a solution for taking notes, such as the Victor Reader Stream (training will be provided in how to use this recording device)


February Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion Training Session 1
This session is held at Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa and is specifically geared for students new to blindness and low vision. For five days, up to 14 adult students have the opportunity to develop basic skills in a range of areas – access technology; orientation and mobility; organization and labeling; magnification and lighting; cooking; braille and community, state and national resources.

The week is full, active, emotional and supportive and students are given the opportunity to meet others, to harvest their own skills and determine the direction of the quality of their lives. There are three scholarship openings for persons 55 and better living in Humboldt, Del Norte, San Francisco, Marin or Alameda County who are not consumers of the Department of Rehabilitation or the VA. For those who are consumers of the Department of Rehabilitation, we encourage you to discuss this opportunity with your counselor.

When: CVCL I will run from February 6th – 10th.

Where: The session will be held in at Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa. Participants will stay overnight throughout the week in our lakeside lodgings. Transportation is available from San Francisco, Berkeley and Marin County.

Cost: There is a $1,300 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.


For More Information, to Register for Session 1 or Session 2, or if you have questions, please contact Debbie Bacon at dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7357 in San Francisco; Jeff Carlson at jcarlson@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-258-8496 in Marin County or Janet Pomerantz at jpomerantz@lighthouse-sf.org or 707-268-5646 in Humboldt County.


Pie for the Season Workshop (two-day course)

Photo: Ingredients for apple pie are assembled on a counter.

Tired of those warehouse pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving? Make it yourself! Learn to make a holiday pie from scratch, yes, including the crust! Designed for the intermediate home cook, students will practice measuring skills, and learn the basics of pastry dough, including proper pastry mixing techniques, rolling and fitting to a pie dish.

When: Wednesday, November 16 and Thursday, November 17, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (bring a bag lunch)
Where: the LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th floor, San Francisco, 94103
Fee:  $60 includes all food supplies
Space is limited to 5 students per class.

Prior baking experience is not required for this class, however, good basic cooking skills and comfort in the kitchen are required. Students must be able to participate on both days as dough will be made the first day and filling and baking will be done the second day.

Recipes planned are an Apple Double Crust and a Sweet Potato Pie, depending on ingredient availability. Please bring your own 9-inch pie tins or glass pie baking dishes so that you can bring your pies home.

If you are a current student at the LightHouse, register for this class with Sydney Ferrario at sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org. If you are new to the LightHouse, please contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org. Please let us know at the time of registration if you have special dietary needs or food allergies so that we may accommodate recipes as much as possible.

BEST Classes for Youth on Saturday, October 15, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Photo: Jamey Gump teaches during last year’s Youth Cooking Class.

Who: Youth who are blind or have low vision, ages 8 to 18
When:  From 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month (upcoming class dates are October 15, November 19 and December 17)
Where: The LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, 94103
Waiver: Each participant must submit a LightHouse Youth Program waiver form if they have not done so for a previous outing or event.
Cost: FREE for low vision and blind youth
Classes will be limited to 12 participants and all participants must RSVP.
For more information or to RSVP, please contact Jamey Gump, Youth Services Coordinator, at (415) 694-7372, or by email at jgump@lighthouse-sf.org.

Blind Youth to Battle it Out During Iron Chef of the LightHouse Cooking Class, 10:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Learn how to cook while having fun with a series of Iron Chef-type competitions.
More about Iron Chef at the LightHouse.

 LightHouse BEST Challenge, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
In the BEST Challenge, students participate in a two-hour course of challenges meant to encourage team-building, introduce them to new techniques and reinforce those they use daily. The course will incorporate a variety of independent living skills, from adaptive technology to Orientation & Mobility.

Tactile Painting, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.
This session will have our BEST students expressing themselves through art. Students will have a spooky good time creating Halloween themed tactile paintings, under the guidance of Enchanted Hills Art Area Leader Julie Cabrera.

Since our class is two weeks before Halloween students will not be carving pumpkins, however they are welcome to bring one from home to decorate with the tactile materials provided.

Autumn Kitchen Basics Class

Left to right: Janeen Rockwell-Owens, Gail McGaster, Victoria Hahn, Instructor Sydney Ferrario, Holli Clark work on two acorn squash soups.

Sweater-season is approaching, and an appetite for heartier meals beckons us inside and to the kitchen. Using a variety of tasty and interesting recipes for soups, one-pot meals, sauces, entrees and desserts, in this class, beginning October 11, you’ll learn cooking strategies with an emphasis on non-visual (tactile, auditory, olfactory and gustatory) techniques and create healthy, cost-effective and delicious meals.

Who: This course is designed for the beginner and intermediate level home cook.
When: October 11 through November 3. These eight class sessions occur every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Where: The LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, 94103
Cost: The class fee is $600.00. Those persons who are 55 and older, not a consumer of the Department of Rehabilitation and living in the counties of San Francisco, Marin or Alameda counties may be eligible for scholarship.
There is a materials fee of $50 for all students.
Space is limited to 5 students per class.

In this class we’ll use a variety of tasty and interesting recipes for fall soups, one-pot meals, sauces, entrees and desserts. Students will have the chance to learn, develop and practice kitchen skills such as:

  • Knife skills, safety strategies and professional level techniques
  • Measuring wet/dry ingredients confidently and accurately
  • Organization and labeling ideas for your kitchen, including setting up your workspace and cleaning strategies/techniques
  • Navigating oven and stovetops and testing for done-ness
  • Easy ingredient swaps for dairy/wheat-free diets, and how to boost nutrition

There will also be a technology overlap where students will practice accessing recipes via smartphone, Victor Reader Stream, or CCTV.

If you are a current student at the LightHouse, contact Sydney Ferrario to register for this class, at sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org.

If you are new to the LightHouse, please contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org. Please let us know at the time of registration if you have special dietary needs or food allergies so that we may accommodate recipes as much as possible.

First Weeklong Immersion Class Pioneers Intensive Blindness Introduction in our New Building

In June we launched the fourth year of the Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) Immersion Training program at our new Headquarters offices at 1155 Market Street in San Francisco.

Gaining an understanding of what is available to you, getting hands-on with new skills and developing renewed confidence with changing vision is the overall theme of the week. While the experience is different for everyone, the act of coming together with other adult students and teachers who are blind or have low vision, to learn or relearn skills and get back into the stream of life, is a pivotal part of the week-long experience.

Join us! We have several Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) Immersion Training scheduled this summer at our new Headquarters offices at 1155 Market Street in San Francisco.

Our new Student Residences can accommodate 2 to 3 students per room. Each Student Residence offers wireless internet connections, recharging stations and a personal bureau.  Students will be provided with a continental breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lodging is akin to a modern Bed and Breakfast – private men’s and women’s facilities are a short walk down the hall from each room. Student lodging is secure and comfortable both for learning and for connecting with others when there is a break from training.

  • Where: LightHouse for the Blind, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, California 94103
  • Session Dates:
    July Session: July 10th to 15th (note: all training in Spanish) (Deadline for sign-up is July 1st.)
  • August Session: August 16th to 22nd (training starts at our Napa site and finishes in San Francisco) (Deadline for sign-up is August 5th.)
  • September Session: September 18th to 23rd (Deadline for sign-up is August 9th.)

Jorge Ellington

Student Jorge Ellington arranges his legs into a pretzel-like formation during morning yoga in our new fitness studio during the Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion.

Over 160 active adults from all parts of Northern California have participated in the LightHouse immersion training programs at the Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa. Providing a second venue to facilitate Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion brings to our students the urban feel of training as well as the additional access a city has to offer, such as visiting the library for the blind; attending an audio described movie at a local movie theater or participating in an accessible art tour at one of the many museums in San Francisco.

In our new urban environment you and your peers will be immersed in building a foundation of independent living skills, access technology skills, orientation and mobility and peer support to get you started on your journey of living your life the way you want in maintaining your independence. All of this along with the energy and vibrancy of one of the most beautiful cities in the world surrounding you.

The CVCL curriculum, presented in four or five sessions per day, includes: ways to read printed materials; understanding how lighting, contrast and magnification can help you every day; techniques for organizing and labeling in your home or office; best methods for taking notes; basic cooking skills; traveling and moving safely and confidently in your home and in the community and understanding how accessible computers and other high and low tech equipment can enhance your life.

You can’t learn everything about blindness or low vision in a single week. But you’ll emerge hungry for more, understanding why you’ll need to put in the effort required to excel in many nonvisual aspects of life. And you’ll have a whole lot of fun and friendship along the way.

Evening discussions focus inwards, from conversations about holding yourself accountable on your journey, to self-advocacy to questions about how friends, family and partners can understand/support you and your path. Sometimes the process is planned, other times it becomes very organic. Each person and every group of students is different and we individualize much of the experience depending on your own aspirations.

Transportation access to San Francisco from Humboldt County will be provided for North Coast students and for those who reside in the bay area, 1155 Market sits right above the Civic Center BART and is only a short cab ride or bus from the Cal Train Station and the temporary Trans Bay Terminal.

Blind or low vision students who are interested should have a genuine interest in learning the skills for moving forward; enjoy learning with a group of peers and are able to participate full day (from 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day) of active learning and physical participation (urban mobility and public transit in San Francisco).

Note, there is no cost to attend if you are 55 or older and living in San Francisco, Alameda, Marin, Humboldt or Del Norte counties. Limited scholarships are available for persons under 55 and not eligible for Department of Rehabilitation Services.

The Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion Training is open to adults who are ready for a jump start or a recharge as their vision has changed. Be among the very first classes in our new building. Interested? Contact LightHouse staff in San Francisco, San Rafael or Eureka: