FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Bryan Bashin, CEO
Scott Blanks, Sr. Director, Programs
(SAN FRANCISCO, CA) LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Northern California’s oldest and largest nonprofit serving the blind, today announced a major initiative to aid hundreds of East Bay blind and visually impaired students affected by the scheduled closure of the Oakland Lions Center for the Blind.
“This week we’re signing a long-term lease to quadruple the size of our Alameda County office, effective August 31, 2016, the announced date of the Lions Center closure” said LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin. Throughout its 114-year history the LightHouse, though headquartered in San Francisco, has served students mostly from the nine-county Bay Area outside of San Francisco proper. Recognizing the unmet needs in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, the LightHouse first opened a satellite office at Berkeley’s Ed Roberts Campus in 2011, providing employment, tech skills and mobility training. In 2014 the California Department of Rehabilitation awarded the LightHouse a key contract to serve older blind adults in Alameda County. Today’s announced expansion will allow the organization to support up to 30 teachers for working-age blind and visually impaired people in Alameda County, where most LightHouse students live.
The new Ed Roberts Campus training facility will complement the greatly expanded teaching capacity of LightHouse’s new 40,000 square-foot Market Street headquarters in San Francisco, opened just three months ago. The Ed Roberts Campus, built directly on top of Berkeley’s Ashby BART station, houses a renowned group of disability organizations in a safe and transit-friendly location. Nearly a dozen progressive disability organizations have discovered that the Ed Roberts campus is an ideal place to gather people with disabilities, and their friends and family.
Shortly after the Lions Center closes, the expanded LightHouse staff will take up the slack by teaching braille, adaptive computer skills, personal and home management, how to find employment and Orientation and Mobility to hundreds of students throughout the east bay.
“While we’re sorry the chaos around the Lions Center closure has affected several hundred blind students in the east bay,” Bashin said, “the new extra capacity of the LightHouse and its 100+ employees will provide them services and to fulfill our organization’s core mission to train and empower all of the region’s visually-impaired residents.
The LightHouse has chosen to announce its new expanded Berkeley office in advance of the Lions publicized closure to allow time for current Lions students to plan for a seamless continuation of their studies in September. Displaced blind students, rehabilitation counselors and concerned families can contact the LightHouse directly to arrange for uninterrupted training. Former students of the Lions Center for the Blind are welcome to continue their studies at any LightHouse facility. To make arrangements please contact LightHouse Rehabilitation Counselor Debbie Bacon at 415.694.7357, or email her at dbacon@LightHouse-sf.org.
About the LightHouse
LightHouse for the Blind is one of the nation’s strongest organizations serving the blind. With six locations throughout northern California, the LightHouse now serves 3,000 people annually. A vital community of innovation, mentorship and community since 1902, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is the place where people who are blind or have low vision come to learn skills and gain confidence. LightHouse staff, senior management and Board of Directors are either blind themselves or have significant professional experience in the blindness field, a unique strength of the organization for decades. LightHouse Employment Immersion program participants earn a collective $2.5 million annually, the most successful blindness employment program in California.