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LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Imapired

LightHouse Youth Return to Favorite Programs this Fall. And Something New!

LightHouse Youth Return to Favorite Programs this Fall. And Something New!

LightHouse’s Youth Programs team is excited to be bringing back many of your favorite virtual programs this autumn, plus introduce a new one. Find out more about them below.

Get your weekends started off right with Reel Escape: Audio Described Movie Club. Every Friday evening from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm, you can catch an episode of the Netflix series Daredevils. Every third Saturday of the month you can also invite your family and enjoy a family favorite film from 1:00 pm to 4:00 p.m. Come for the audio-described cinematic adventures, stay for the good company and fun commentary and discussions after the films.

What: Reel Escape: Audio Described Movie Club: Friday Evening Daredevils
When: Fridays starting September 3 from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Who: Teen and young adults who are blind or have low vision
RSVP: to Jamey Gump at JGump@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7372

What: Reel Escape: Audio Described Saturday Movie Club
When: Third Saturdays of the month starting September 18 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Who: Youth who are blind or have low vision and their families
RSVP: to Jamey Gump at JGump@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7372

Youth Programs is also here to cure your Saturday night boredom with a virtual monthly Not So Bored Game Night. Every third Saturday of the month from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm join friends and LightHouse Youth Programs staff via Zoom for a fun and interactive evening of accessible games. Kind and competitive banter is always welcomed!

What: Not So Bored Game Night
When: Saturdays beginning September 18 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Who: Youth who are blind or have low vision under the age of 18 or who have attended high school in the past year
RSVP: to Jamey Gump at JGump@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7372.

Along with all our old favorites, LightHouse is thrilled to announce a shiny new virtual youth program, Polishing to Perfection: LightHouse Student Woodworking Club. During the last few years of teen camp session at Enchanted Hills Camp, our youth have been lucky to have a group of wood workers inspire our campers to take up the hobby. This new monthly virtual wood polishing club is designed to connect LightHouse and EHC friends throughout the year while polishing wood into art. A woodworker who is blind or has low vision will join us each month and share their story and wisdom with the next generation of artists.

Students who sign up for the program one week in advance will receive the basic materials and equipment to get started with wood polishing. Those students who remain active in the program and improve their skill will become eligible for additional raw materials that they can turn into art or gifts for loved ones. The polishing party takes place on the second Saturday of the month at 7:00 pm. Each gathering will have time dedicated to update others about their projects, learn a little about that month’s mentor, and most importantly have as much time as the evening will allow to hangout and polish with your blind and low vision friends.

What: Polishing to Perfection: LightHouse Student Woodworkers Club
When: Second Saturdays of the month, starting September 11 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Who: Youth who are blind or have low vision
RSVP: to Jamey Gump JGump@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7372. RSVP by September 4 to have materials mailed to you.

If you are interested in joining any of these great programs, contact Jamey Gump JGump@lighthouse-sf.org or give the Youth Programs team a call at 415-694-7372. Be sure to check our online calendar as new events are added all the time. We hope to see you at one, two, or all our fall Youth Programs.

And the 2021 Holman Prizewinners Are…

And the 2021 Holman Prizewinners Are…

The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco is pleased to announce the winners of the fifth annual Holman Prize for Blind Ambition.

Last month an international panel of blind leaders came together virtually to select the three winners of the 2021 Holman Prize.

Launched in 2017, the Holman Prize awards up to $25,000 each to three blind people with ambitious ideas that will challenge misperceptions about blindness worldwide. We’re pleased to partner with Waymo whose support is deep and continuing as a sponsor of one of these prizes. The Holman Prize is named for James Holman, a 19th century blind explorer who was the most prolific private traveler of anyone, blind or sighted, before the era of modern transportation.

Aaron Cannon

Aaron Cannon, 41 – USA

Cannon will use the Holman Prize to build accessible math training modules containing many lessons showing how blind people can learn to do math. These will be shared on a website. Of the endeavor, Cannon says, “This is a project I really believe in. There is something particularly impactful for a student being taught a complex subject that they think they are going to have difficulty with because of their blindness. But if there is a blind person teaching it to them, that kind of goes away. The subject may be hard, but not because of blindness.”

Robert Malunda

Robert Malunda, 33 – Zimbabwe

Malunda will use the Holman Prize to provide computer, orientation & mobility and social skills training to blind Zimbabweans in rural locations. Malunda will personally visit these areas were there are no government services of any kind for blind people. Says Malunda, “Blind people in Zimbabwe often experience isolation. I envision a Zimbabwe where blind people are knowledgeable, independent and socially interactive.”

Maud Rowell

Maud Rowell, 25 – United Kingdom

Rowell will travel across Japan independently including visits to rural and remote areas, solely by foot and public transportation. “I truly believe my project – travelling the length of Japan and writing a book – embodies the spirit of the Holman Prize: it’s ambitious, adventurous, and creative, and it’s absolutely driven by passion and a desire to challenge myself and others’ perceptions of the blind,” she says.

Bryan Bashin, LightHouse CEO, says of the winners, “This year the Holman judges selected three ambitious people from three continents to push the boundaries of blindness. In Zimbabwe, Robert Malunda will go to  the most distant parts of his country to expose blind people to modern attitudes and innovative techniques blind people use. In Japan, Maud Rowell will complete a Holmanesque journey to the most remote and little-visited parts of the Japanese archipelago, doing it solo and sensitively. And in the USA Aaron Cannon will develop a series of blind-friendly tutorials and methods for blind people to learn mathematics, a key subject for later academic and vocational success. We look forward to seeing how each of these three remarkable people will change attitudes about blindness and our ambition.”

This Year Marked the Return of the YES Academy to EHC

This Year Marked the Return of the YES Academy to EHC

This summer, LightHouse was thrilled to bring back the Youth Employment Services (YES) Summer Academy. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and health and safety protocols, last year we ran the program virtually. This year we were back in person with a slightly re-designed program to accommodate the safety of our students and staff while still keeping the fun, interactive elements and activities we’ve always valued in the academy. Our participants spent this four-week program at Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC) where the spacious and lush grounds allowed for safe, socially distanced outdoor instruction.

YES is a program designed to educate and prepare youth who are blind or have low vision ages 16 to 24 for a successful future, focusing primarily on employment and independent living skills. During the Summer Academy, our participants are given the opportunity to fill their summer with engaging and valuable pre-employment learning experiences, independent living training, employment readiness seminars, mentoring conversations, discussions about self-advocacy in equality and inclusion in the workplace, not to mention all the memorable social activities and building connections with friends and mentors.

The four weeks were broken down into goal-based themes. The first week was “Your Skills, Your Goals Bootcamp.” Week two focused on expanding employment knowledge and networking in the community. YES ended its program with workshops in learning to grow one’s resume and work experience in weeks three and four.

The students documented their experiences throughout these four weeks by writing blogs. First time participant, a young woman with low vision named Tatiana, reflected on her time at the YES Summer Academy.

“I’ve always said and knew I didn’t want to have to rely on my family, friends, and others to help me go on in life and do whatever it is I may need to do, but deep down there was always that worry of what seemed at the time to be an inevitable fact that I’d have no choice and I would need to come to terms with always needing some kind of reliance. However, after going through this program and learning and practicing what I have for the first time in my life, that thought and doubt is no longer there. I have confidence in knowing I will be able to go on in life confidently by myself.

“Not only has the program taught me new skills but it has given me a newly found hope and excitement. I’m not fully blind but I still struggle in places where visual problems are not noticed often. After staying at the camp where everyone is visually impaired it’s made me feel more accepted. I have never realized that the stereotypes used to describe the blind community are the farthest thing from true. I’ve been inspired and cannot wait to return to Enchanted Hills Camp and the YES Academy where I have learned that my vision does not define me.”

Another YES participant, Heaven, had the opportunity to gain work experience by working as Recreation Assistant at the Enchanted Hills Teen Camp session that was going on simultaneously with YES in the last weeks of the program.

“The first few days of my work experience as the Recreation Assistant, I observed how the Area Leader taught the campers what to do, and after that I led some of the activities. I learned more about Archery, and a new sport known as Disc Golf. I’ve learned many things through working this job, mainly how to talk to a large crowd of people. I met a lot of the campers and staff and learned about them as well. It is a very interactive job, which I like because it helps me be better at talking with other people. This job gave me skills I will be able to use in the future. It tested my communication skills, and ability to problem solve. It also tested my memorization skills, because I had to memorize people’s names and what order they were in for certain recreational activities. The experience was a good one, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to work this job. I love sports and now I have a way to teach them to other blind people, and a way to explain them if I ever need to. It was a valuable experience.”

YES offers different programs and workshops year-round. If you are or if you know any blind and low vision youth ages 16 to 24 who are interested in preparing for their future, you can contact Youth Programs Assistant, Daisy Soto, at DSoto@lighthouse-sf.org, or by calling 415-694-7328. LightHouse youth activities are not just summer only, but every month, all year long. Visit our Youth Programs department page on our website or check out our online calendar for upcoming events and programs.

California Agencies for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CAABVI) appoints first Executive Director

California Agencies for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CAABVI) appoints first Executive Director

For more than 30 years California’s private agencies serving the blind have had a loose informal association with one another. In recent years, funding streams for training homemakers, non-vocational services and other key blindness services have diminished or been eliminated. In a historic action, all California blindness agencies have worked to incorporate a new nonprofit arm designed to advocate for our community’s needs. We at Lighthouse are particularly pleased  that our former Executive Director Anita Shafer Aaron will lead the new nonprofit. Below is the official press release.

July 26, 2021
-– The California Agencies for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CAABVI) announced appointment of Anita Shafer Aaron as founding Executive Director responsible for working with the CAABVI Board of Directors to oversee the creation and subsequent leadership of a formalized not for profit organization consisting of private agencies in California serving individuals who are blind and visually impaired.

Aaron, who served for twenty years as Executive Director of LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired headquartered in San Francisco followed by ten years as CEO of World Institute on Disability, will focus on formalizing the CAABVI association; strengthening CAABVI’s advocacy efforts for effective and equitable training, education and services; facilitating the community outreach and education agenda and expanding funding opportunities for a service system where government revenue sources have been severely reduced and competition for private funds has increased significantly.

Appointment of Aaron is a critical step in the CAABVI plan to formalize an historically mutual support and information sharing association into an organization that works to ]bring California stakeholders in vision services together to make California a better place for children, youth and adults with visual disabilities to live independent and fruitful lives.

“The CAABVI Board of Directors and member organizations agree there needs to be a concerted, ongoing, and persistent effort to advocate on behalf of the over 20 blindness- related service providers in California,” said Jay Allen, CABVI Board President and President and Chief Operating Officer of Wayfinder Family Services headquartered in Los Angeles. With the formalization of CABVI inspired by the famous Helen Keller phrase “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,” the newly-formalized CAABVI organization will ensure ongoing support and collaboration for the benefit of California residents who are blind and visually impaired.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work toward strengthening California’s private agencies serving individuals who are blind and visually impaired and also working more closely with consumer -based organizations such as the National Federation of the Blind of California and California Council of the Blind to support their advocacy for better and stronger public policy standards,” said Aaron.

California Agencies for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CAABVI) advocates for effective and equitable training, education, and services for all Californians  who are blind or visually impaired. Through its Board of Directors, selected for their leadership roles in member organizations, CAABVI serves as the aggregate voice of California’s private, nonprofit agencies serving individuals who are blind and visually impaired, their families and communities.