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All summer, tune into KQED on Fridays for a blind tour of California

All summer, tune into KQED on Fridays for a blind tour of California

Every Friday starting April 26, The World According to Sound’s new radio series will take listeners on an audio exploration of California from the acoustic perspective of the blind.

Over the last year, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired has partnered with Bay Area podcast The World According to Sound as they collected footage to take listeners on an audio exploration of California from the acoustic perspective of the blind. Starting this Friday, the radio series will begin airing on KQED during The California Report Magazine at 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. or 11 p.m. PST. Tune in live or visit this link to listen at your leisure.

Each radio episode focuses on one sound or story that captures what it’s like to live in California as someone who is blind or visually impaired. You will hear from wanderers, beekeepers, commuters, hikers, teenagers and retirees. Using the latest in binaural 3D sound recording, the World According to Sound’s producers, Chris Hoff and Sam Harnett, capture vivid sonic environments, stories and observations from all corners of our beautiful state.

Since the experience is all about the audio, and we know our sound-savvy audience, here are several tips for getting the best out of the strange sounds you are about to hear:
  1. Put on headphones. This way, you’ll be able to experience the binaural sound in all its eery depth.
  2. If you have vision, remove as much visual stimulation as possible. Dim the lights, close your eyes, or put on a sleep mask if you have one!
  3. Don’t multitask. Stop what you’re doing for 5 to 7 minutes and just listen.
  4. Tell your friends. Okay… we admit this one has nothing to do with the listening experience. However, we’re hoping this series will get people thinking more critically about the sounds they hear every day. What’s your favorite sound? Tweet your answer with the hashtag #myworldaccordingtosound.

What’s next? A live tour!

In the fall, The World According to Sound will kick off a tour of live shows, like this one we collaborated on a while back. During these live shows, ambisonic recordings and stories are projected on a ring of speakers. Surround sound engulfs the audience to give both sighted and blind listeners, seated in total darkness, a new appreciation of their environment through the rich and often-overlooked world of sound. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive event announcements in the fall.

The series is a partnership with LightHouse, with additional support from California Humanities. The goal of these episodes is to push the boundaries of audio storytelling and further LightHouse’s mission both in-person and over the airwaves. For more information about this collaboration and the performance, please contact thewatsound@gmail.com or press@lighthouse-sf.org.

About the World According to Sound

The World According to Sound is a podcast, radio program, and live performance. 90-second episodes of the radio program have aired on NPR, The California Report, and public radio stations across the country. The Washington Post wrote that “each episode contains a neat little story about an evocative, unusual sound rendered in intense aural detail.” WBEZ featured the show’s innovative approach to radio on Morning Shift, and the podcast HowSound dedicated an episode to the philosophy behind the program’s minimally-narrated, sound-dependent audio. Show producers Chris Hoff and Sam Harnett have taken the live version of their program on tour and have played at over 40 locations, including colleges like Cornell and Brown; performing arts venues like WNYC’s Greene Space and PRX’s Podcast Garage; and galleries like the Lab and the Whitebox.



The LightHouse has a rich, 118-year history, and is constantly forging ahead into new territory. Below is a review of selected recent publications covering LightHouse’s activities and programs.

For general press inquiries, or if you are a filmmaker, photographer, editor or other media producer who’d like to cover our organization, please send a note to press@lighthouse-sf.org.

Recent Stories

Blind people, advocates slam company claiming to make websites ADA compliant – NBC News

Faced With Inaccessible Systems, SF’s LightHouse Launches Vaccine Pop-Up for Disability Community – KQED

COVID-19 vaccine websites violate disability laws, create inequity for the blind – Los Angeles Times

Listen to 2019 Holman Prizewinner, Dry AMD; Mona Minkara On Her Global Public Transport Experiences – BBC Radio, In Touch

Watch this BBC World news report about how LightHouse Industries staff who are blind and have low vision are providing essential products to help fight COVID-19 during the pandemic. – BBC World Services

LightHouse Industries photo essay.

On the bright side: Blind workers on a roll making toilet paper at San Leandro factory – San Francisco Chronicle

Vital Coronavirus Information Is Failing the Blind and Visually Impaired – Vice News

COVID-19 concerns cancel Napa summer camp for blind students – The Napa Valley Register

NBC Bay Area Visits 2019 Project Innovation Recipient – NBC Bay Area

Local residents looking to climb Mount Kilimanjaro apply for Holman Prize – BC Local News

Why Do Some Crosswalks Make a Machine Gun Sound? – KQED News

California Sounds: An Architect Who Listens to Buildings – KQED News

Listen: Bryan Bashin, CEO of LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, to give us a taste of what it’s like to navigate a loud and chaotic city while blind. – KQED News

“LightHouse Expands to Support East Bay” – KCBS News

“Cane Trainer” – The Specialist Podcast

“Visually Impaired Musicians Overcome Obstacles with Technology at Napa Camp” – Napa Valley Register

“A Hands-On Guy Doing Hands-On Work in the Information Age” – The Braille Monitor profiles Enchanted Hills Construction Manager George Wurtzel

“The Best Party at SXSW Was in a Rented House Full of Blind People” – Re/code reviews our panel at SXSW 2016

“Blind People Don’t Need Your Help – They Need Better Design” – San Francisco Magazine

“Travelers in the Dark” – The New York Times provides a look into our flagship blindness skills immersion program

“Blind Architect drafts different blueprint for success” – CBS Evening News

“Pixar’s New App Gives the Blind a New Way to Experience Movies” – The California Report

“In Savvy Real Estate Play, LightHouse for the Blind to move to $45M new HQ” – San Francisco Business Times 

“An Architect Lost His Sight and Kept Working Thanks to Breakthrough Technologies for the Blind” – Dwell

“Forbes Honors Two LightHouse Mentors in Annual ’30 Under 30′” – LightHouse

“Is Braille Relevant in the Digital Age” – KALW Radio

“A Guiding Hand for the Blind” – The Wall Street Journal profiles Employment Program Manager Kate Williams

“This Tactile Map of Burning Man is Awesome, No Matter Your Level of Sight” – CityLab

Coverage of Donald Sirkin’s historic bequest on KQED’s The Leap PodcastNPR Weekend Edition, KQED Forum, KTVU News, and in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

“Craftsman’s blindness Doesn’t Hinder his Woodworking Vision” – Napa Valley Register

“40 Years After Acid Attack, a Life Well-Lived,” profile of board past-president Josh Miele in the New York Times

“New Technologies Map Mass Transit and More for the Blind” – WNYC’s The Takeaway

“Nonprofits Need to Stay in MId-Market Despite Rising Rents” – San Francisco Chronicle

“Blind Teens Tap Into Sense at Chemistry Camp” – National Public Radio



On the Future of Blindness

The LightHouse's new West Coast Center at 1155 Market St.

This morning, KQED public radio hosted LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin to discuss the future of blindness. It wasn’t, as many discussions of blindness are, a roundup of medical cures or sob stories. Rather, it was a lucid and exciting look at the opportunities and even joys of living life with blindness or visual impairment.

This week, a new podcast called The Leap takes a deep dive into the makings of the LightHouse’s very bright future. Science reporter Amy Standen profiles an historic gift, from a fellow member of our blindness community far afield — who never stopped struggling with his changing vision. Now, with this act of generosity from Donald Sirkin, the LightHouse marches proudly ahead to become a truly 21st century hub for blindness skills training, technology development, advocacy and community support.

Get involved:

– Learn about our new West Coast Center of Excellence, under construction at 1155 Market Street in San Francisco

– Read about our Changing Vision, Changing Life introduction to blindness skills retreat

– Attend our 29th Annual Disability Film Festival, November 14-15

– Explore planned giving, workplace giving and volunteer opportunities

Media contact: press@lighthouse-sf.org