Tag Archive


November 12 Deadline to Apply for Redbox Settlement Compensation

Dear Blind and Visually-Impaired Community Members,

I’m pleased to announce that a three-year effort by the LightHouse and our legal partners at Disability Rights Advocates has been successful. With our recent settlement with Redbox, all inaccessible California DVD rental machines will be converted to ones which have a tactile keypad and talk. This is a major accessibility victory and will help to establish that it’s a nonviable idea to design or implement inaccessible point of sale machines for any purpose in our state.

As part of the settlement process, those blind Californians who were unable to use Redbox machines may be eligible for monetary compensation. Please read the details below if you wish to participate in the claims process.

Please note: you don’t need to have physically attempted to use Redbox to qualify for the settlement. If you simply would have liked to use it but have heard that blind people can’t use it because it is inaccessible, this qualifies. There is no age limit – you can apply for the settlement even if you are under 18 as long as you meet the qualifications.

The LightHouse is proud to have been the organizational plaintiff in this matter, and we’re proud to be a leader in advancing the civil rights of the blind. Our partnership with the dedicated lawyers at Disability Rights Advocates promises many legal and civil rights advances in the near future. Some will be coming soon at a vending machine near you.


Bryan Bashin, CEO
LightHouse for the Blind



This notice is to inform you that you may have a claim for monetary damages under the proposed settlement that would resolve the class action lawsuit Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, et al. v. Redbox Automated Retail, LLC, et al., Case No. 12-cv-00195-PJH (N.D. Cal.). The lawsuit alleges that Redbox Automated Retail, LLC (“Redbox”) violated federal and California law by offering video and game rental services at self-service, touchscreen kiosks in California that legally blind persons cannot independently access. Save Mart Supermarkets (“Save Mart”) is also a defendant in the case.

The proposed settlement would require that Redbox add tactile controls, headphone jacks, and text-to-speech output to all of its touchscreen video rental kiosks in California so that legally blind individuals can independently access Redbox kiosks in California.

You may be entitled to payment of money as part of this settlement. There is a damages fund of $1.2 million that will be shared among eligible claimants. You may be eligible to receive money if you are legally blind and you attempted but were unable to access the goods and services available at Redbox kiosks in California on or after January 12, 2010 due to the kiosks’ visual user interface, or if you were aware that Redbox kiosks in California utilize a visual user interface, and, as a result, were deterred from accessing the goods and services of a Redbox kiosk in California on a particular occasion on or after January 12, 2010.

Click here to get to the main settlement page.
Click here to read the class notices in their entirety.
Make A Claim Now!

Printed claim forms, which should be mailed to the Claims Administrator at the address below, must be postmarked no later than November 12, 2014.

Claims Administrator:
Lighthouse v. Redbox Claims Administrator
P.O. Box 43034
Providence, RI 02940-3034
Phone: (866) 277-4261

Claim forms submitted electronically must be submitted no later than November 12, 2014. You also have the right to opt out of the damages portion of the settlement and the right to object to the settlement.

Any questions about the settlement, including requests for documents in alternate accessible formats, should be directed to class counsel using the contact information below.

Class Counsel:
Disability Rights Advocates
2001 Center Street, 4th Floor
Berkeley, CA 94704
Phone: (510) 665-8644

SFO Unveils Mobile App for Visually-Impaired Passengers

Airport demonstrates prototype phone application which can guide passengers through terminal

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) today unveiled a prototype version of a smartphone application which can help visually-impaired passengers to navigate through an airport terminal. The app was developed through San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program, which paired SFO with the Indoo.rs, a leader in indoor navigation technology, and was developed in a relatively short span of 16 weeks.

“This groundbreaking new innovation offers visually-impaired passengers something remarkable…the ability to navigate through SFO independently without assistance,” said Airport Director John L. Martin. “I appreciate the collaboration with Indoo.rs and the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, made possible by Mayor Ed Lee’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program. This program demonstrates Mayor Lee’s commitment to innovation.”

The mobile phone app works in conjunction with approximately 500 beacons located throughout the terminal to audibly call out various points of interest, including gate boarding areas, restaurants, and even power outlets. The prototype version will undergo additional testing and refinement before being released for use by the traveling public.

Become Empowered, Define Your Future, Discover You!

Discover You
A seminar presented by The Bay Area Chapters of the National Federation of the Blind of California & LightHouse for the Blind


Join the National Federation of the Blind of California and LightHouse for the Blind for an action-packed day. Come learn how you can live the life you want. Blind leaders in the community will present on topics such as employment, technology and recreation. Learn about your options and how you can advocate and raise expectations so that blindness need not hold you back from accomplishing your dreams.

What? A free seminar where you can learn the skills essential to success.
Continental breakfast, lunch and happy hour will be provided free
of charge!
Why? Low expectations are often the obstacles which stand between
blind people and the desire to succeed; and it is time to change
that perception.
Who? You! – Especially if you are a blind or low vision youth or adult;
have a family member who is blind; a professional in the blindness field; and anyone else who wants to have fun.
Where? LightHouse for the Blind | 214 Van Ness Avenue | San Francisco
When? Saturday august 23 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

RSVP now to Lisamaria Martinez at info@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-431-1481. The first 25 people to sign up will receive a gift card. Limited transportation may be arranged if there is a specific need.

Staff Profile: Jeff Carlson – LightHouse of Marin’s Stellar Social Worker

Jeff Carlson has been a Social Worker at the LightHouse for more than 20 years. Through the years he remains thorough and responsive as he helps our constituents navigate their changing vision. He told us, “It is both an honor and a pleasure to work not only with the talented and caring LightHouse staff, but also with my blind students who trust me to provide them guidance about available resources and support as well as training options.”

Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, at age 10 Jeff moved with his family to the Bay Area. He attended UC Berkeley where his interest in helping others led him to study Psychology. It was at Berkeley that Jeff began to appreciate the needs of our community; during Jeff’s senior year at Berkeley, he became a reader for a fellow psychology classmate, Gonzalo, who was blind. Jeff remembers with pleasure reading textbooks and recording the material on cassettes with Gonzalo, until his graduation. This formative experience exposed Jeff to the unique needs of blind and visually impaired individuals, such as alternative formats for text, access to information and services as well as the use of dog guides and white canes.

After earning his B.A., Jeff received his Masters in Social Welfare from Berkeley. His first job after earning his M.S.W. was at the ARC in San Francisco, where Jeff worked with developmentally disabled adults by providing them with social services, and connecting them to critical agencies and support lifelines. In 1989, after four rewarding years at the ARCSF, Jeff ran across a LightHouse job announcement for a social worker. He was immediately drawn to the posting because of his prior experience with his blind classmate. Jeff’s compassionate and amiable nature made a strong impression on his interviewers and he began his career at the LightHouse, at its old 10th Street, San Francisco location.

Jeff started out working full time in the San Francisco office but as the workload in our Marin office (now housed in the Whistlestop Active Aging Center) increased he began to spend more hours there. These days he is at the Marin office four days a week where he helps students connect to LightHouse services and other community resources that can help them achieve their goals. He checks in with his students to find out how they are doing with their vision and whether they need additional training. He also facilitates and supervises various support groups.

When asked what makes our Marin location different from our other locations, he said, “The LightHouse’s presence within Whistlestop is quite an advantage to those we serve. We share a large building with several different social services agencies geared towards active aging adults.” One of his proudest achievements in the North Bay is his cultivation and development of a senior blind men’s support group, which has not only increased the participation of men in Marin LightHouse activities, but also connected them to other community resources. In 2013, Jeff became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), furthering his goal to help more people in need of services.

LightHouse hasn’t been all work and no play for Jeff – it is here that he met his wife, Divina Fontanilla-Carlson. It was at a LightHouse activity that their paths first crossed and the two officially tied the knot this year. When Jeff is not at work, he can be found scaling mountains and angling for rainbow and golden trout. He has backpacked with his father and friends over some impressive peaks, including Mt. Whitney in the Eastern Sierras. He also likes travelling with Divina to warm weather climates like Hawaii and Mexico.

Jeff’s guiding principle in life is simple, we’ve all heard it before – treat other as you would like to be treated. It’s clear from Jeff’s time at LightHouse that Jeff walks the walk. He treats everyone – students, staff, and complete strangers – with the utmost respect. He is compassionate, dedicated, and not afraid to get his hands dirty to help someone in need. And Jeff’s impact on our clients is palpable; LightHouse regularly receives feedback from clients praising Jeff’s commitment to helping others. LightHouse is fortunate to have Jeff as a part of our team.

Jeff Carlson

Adaptations Product of the Month – PenFriend Voice Labeling System

Now available at Adaptations: the PenFriend by the U.K.’s RNIB. This handy device allows users to easily record and re-record messages onto small self-adhesive labels. One can hear the recorded message you have assigned to the label by placing the tip of the pen-shaped recorder on top of the label.

Use the PenFriend for organizing and differentiating everything from cans of food to compact discs. The PenFriend is also great for labeling medications with detailed dosage information. Best of all, you don’t need to take the extra step of hooking the PenFriend up to a computer to use it.

Try it out for yourself. We have a demonstration model of the RNIB PenFriend at Adaptations, the LightHouse Store. If you like it, and we think you will, we can order it for you. The PenFriend sells for $140.00. For more information call us at Adaptations at 1-888-400-8933 or stop by Adaptations at 214 Van Ness Avenue between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays.

PenFriend being used on a can of soup

Bringing Active People Together – LightHouse Personal Services/Fitness Partners Volunteer Program

Sign that says, “Become a Volunteer Today!”

Have you been looking for a way to foster positive change in your life? In addition to all of the other services we provide for blind and low vision folks, the LightHouse has an exceptional Personal Services Volunteer Program, where we match those able to help with those needing assistance with tasks such as going over paperwork, organizing their home or going to the grocery store. And if you are finally ready to “get your fitness on” and looking for someone to walk, run, bicycle or other exercise with, the LightHouse can pair you with a Fitness Partner.

Make a difference in somebody’s life. Contact Volunteer Coordinator Justine Harris-Richburgh at 415-694-7320 or volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org to be paired with a Personal Service Volunteer or Fitness Partner today.

Introducing the Mind’s Eye Therapy Group

LightHouse for the Blind’s Counseling and Psychological Services Program is offering a new therapy group called Mind’s Eye, intended for individuals with recent changes in their vision who are moving forward in their lives. With guidance from our staff psychologist, Connie Conley-Jung, Ph.D., the group facilitator, Ms. Rachel Longan, M.S. has thoughtfully designed this group for adults who are navigating this very personal journey.

Changes in vision can affect many aspects of a person’s life. Students who are participating in this group are able to process their experiences in a safe and caring setting. Ms. Longan incorporates a variety of techniques and experiential exercises into each session. Some of the topics the group is covering include new challenges in relationships, social participation, and emotional factors commonly associated with adjusting to changes in vision.

We already have one active group and we’re looking to recruit a second one. The series runs for 8-weeks as is held on Thursday afternoons at LightHouse San Francisco Headquarters. If you are interested in enrolling in a future Mind’s Eye therapy group please contact Dr. Connie Conley-Jung at 415 694-7307 or email her at cjung@lighthouse-sf.org.

About the Therapist
Ms. Rachel Longan has 8 years of experience conducting support groups and five years of supervised therapy hours in a variety of settings. Rachel is visually impaired and has co-facilitated a year-long support group specifically for individuals experiencing recent vision loss.

Ms. Longan has guest lectured at the International Conference on Costello Syndrome and at UC Berkeley. She is a Registered Marriage and Family Intern at the Lighthouse (supervised by Connie Conley-Jung, Ph.D.) and also works at the Pacific Center in Berkeley.

Rachel Longan

Next Class May 6 – LightHouse Employment Class Gets High Marks

The LightHouse Employment Immersion Program has helped dozens of eager-to-work blind and low vision folks find jobs and get hired. At last count, salaries generated by past graduates have exceeded $1,365,000. Graduates from our most recent class tell us that our program is well worth the eight-week investment of time. Read what a few of them had to say.

“Before starting the class I felt frustrated with feelings of being alone, of not knowing anyone else with a disability and not having anyone else to relate to. I was also not aware of what employers and recruiters look for in an applicant. I felt my resume was JUST okay and was not too sure of how to change it or make it better. After being in the class, I definitely feel a lot better and confident about my resume and reassured of my interviewing skills. It was great to have other classmates share the same feeling as it made me feel less alone in my struggles.” — Vanessa Braasch, Richmond, CA

“I loved that I met other people with a visual impairment; I had never had the experience before the class and we became like a family. I also thought the class would be very rigid, and although we learned a lot, I actually found it to be relaxed and supportive. In addition, the class gave me a broader perspective about how to disclose my disability to potential employers. As a result, I feel more comfortable about my visual impairment – there is no reason for me not to apply to jobs when I have an interest. All in all it was a great experience and I am more motivated to gain employment – I am more focused on the possibilities rather than my disability. — Esmeralda Soto-Parraz, Oakland, CA

And finally:

“The class was a wonderful experience – a number of the things we covered really changed my life. [For example,] I used to use my white cane only on occasion… now it has become my “best friend”. With my new comfort level and confidence I have become a real “pro” in travelling and I think I can do anything I set my mind to. It was wonderful being part of a group with so much in common. We were all in the same boat. And we didn’t just talk about blindness. We became friends. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to become employed. Before the class I had little confidence to apply to jobs. Now that I understand myself better I am no longer afraid.” – Nancy Tabori, Menlo Park, CA

Thank you to the Thomas J. Long Foundation for their $10,000 grant to LightHouse’s Employment Immersion Program. Contributions make a difference to the low vision and blind job seekers who take part! Thomas J. Long Foundation logo

How to Apply
Are you ready to take the next step to finding that great job? Our next class begins May 6, and you may still have time to enroll. Don’t wait, contact Justine Harris-Richburgh at 415-694-7320 or volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org or Kate Williams at 415-694-7324 or kwilliams@lighthouse-sf.org.

Employment Immersion - March 2014 Graduates

The Freedom of Riding

Jacob and his dog Gibson hanging out on a couch
Fourteen-and-a-half year old Jacob Obeso of San Leandro is stoked to be a stoker for his second Cycle for Sight ride, a signature fundraiser benefiting Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind where he has participated as a camper for several summers. This Saturday, Jacob and his dad Robert will be pedaling 25 miles along the scenic roads of Napa as one of 40 tandems and 2500 cyclists.

Jacob’s mother Martha told us that tandem cycling was one of the very few things her son could do when he began to lose his vision. She said, “He couldn’t do a lot of sports and athletics but we got him to ride bikes. He liked it. I kept looking for things he could do and I found Cycle for Sight. The first year, my kids and I rode 15 miles. Jacob was really psyched to have so much support from the family. This year he’ll be riding 25 miles with my husband, no hesitation on Jacob’s part. Bike riding is a sense of freedom for him.”

Jacob is a freshman in high school. He has been attending Enchanted Hills Camp for a handful of summers now and, like so many blind campers before him, has benefited greatly from the transformative camp experience. Martha says, “Camp has completely changed Jacob’s attitude. He found other kids that he could relate to and now he is far more comfortable with his visual impairment. He loves EHC. The counselors are just fantastic and many are great blind role models.”

His love for camp and his need to feel free while biking are two reasons why Jacob and his family are riding this Saturday in Cycle for Sight. The Obeso family is hard at work raising money to help blind youth of all ages experience the magic of Enchanted Hills Camp. For 64 summers, Enchanted Hills has been a place where blind children and adults learn, grow and discover a new sense of self-confidence and freedom.

You can help Jacob and his family raise money for Enchanted Hills Camp by going to our
donation page and selecting Cycle for Sight as your giving designation. Be sure to put Jacob’s name in the “in honor of” field.

For more information about Cycle for Sight or Enchanted Hills Camp, contact Tony Fletcher at afletcher@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7319.

Ride on!