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LightHouse Staff Shares Her Experience Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine at LightHouse

LightHouse Staff Shares Her Experience Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine at LightHouse

As I hopped out of my Lyft at 7th and Market Street and turned the corner toward the LightHouse headquarters in San Francisco, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia. It had been months, nearly a year since I’d last entered this building. As I reached for the door handle of the front entrance, I was welcomed in by a friendly face. The man asked kindly, “Here for the clinic?” to which I replied, “Absolutely!”

After being directed towards the elevators I stepped in and pressed the button for the 10th floor. The door opened to the familiar sound of the automated announcer, “10th floor, LightHouse Main Reception.” I stepped into the lobby and was greeted by friendly, masked volunteers. I looked around and noted the many people in line, spaced at a safe distance apart from one another, patiently awaiting their turn to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

When I joined the line, a nurse approached me and asked my name and birthdate. She found my vaccination card in the stack of other names scheduled to be vaccinated that day. She assisted me in filling out a pre-vaccine medical form. (Do I have any allergies? Have I received any vaccines within the past 14 days? Etc.) After completing the form, I waited for my turn to be taken into Multipurpose Room B, where there were three vaccination stations set up.

When it was my turn, I was directed to the available station. I rolled up my left sleeve as a very kind and friendly nurse walked me through the process. I turned my cheek away from my left shoulder as I received the vaccine. (Needles make me queasy!)

When I sat down in the post-vaccine waiting area adjacent to the vaccination stations, it hit me. For two years I would come to this building every day. Working with the blind community, my community, has always been important and enjoyable for me. On March 13, 2020 we were told that LightHouse would be closed for two weeks due to the onset of COVID-19 cases increasing in the area. Two weeks turned into 56 weeks (and counting) and the “increasing number of COVID-19 cases” turned into a global pandemic. Through the past thirteen months of confusion, devastation, and fear, here I was, one year later in the same place where I had first learned of the severity of this disease, receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. It was emotional. It was hopeful. It was a triumph. The experience felt surreal.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to all the nurses, volunteers, and all of those responsible for giving LightHouse the opportunity to become a vaccination site. With the help and coordination of many LightHouse and San Francisco Public Health employees, I am proud to say that not only was I vaccinated, but the nonprofit I work for, the work in which I hold so dear, was able to provide yet another accessible and vitally important service to our community.

Making Your Vote Count: Dropping off Your Ballot or Voting in Person

Making Your Vote Count: Dropping off Your Ballot or Voting in Person

Election day is one week away. Find early voting and official ballot dropbox locations or look up your election day polling place on the California Secretary of State website. You can also find out more specific information about voting in your county online or call 916-657-2166. There are also voter hotlines which provide info in other languages.

On Election Day, November 3, both Lyft and Uber are offering discounts.

Lyft is offering 50% off one ride up to $10 to any polling location or dropbox using the code 2020VOTE.

Uber, meanwhile, is offering 50% off roundtrip rides to and from the polls, up to $7 each way.

If you missed the voter registration deadline, you may still be eligible to vote with a provisional ballot via California’s Same-Day Voter Registration process.

Don’t forget, if you live in the Bay Area and would like a LightHouse volunteer to support you with voting, you’ve got until tomorrow, Wednesday, October 28. Please email volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org or leave a voicemail at 415-694–7320.

‘The Specialist’ Podcast On Going Blind, and How We Help

Katt Jones and Marco SalsicciaLightHouse O&M instructor Katt Jones was featured on this week’s episode of The Specialist, a new KALW podcast about the important jobs you don’t think about. Host Casey Miner takes us through a day-in-the-life of someone, in this case Jones, who helps blind people learn how to get around. Miner also takes a deep dive with Marco Salsiccia, LightHouse student and Accessibility Specialist at Lyft, about what it’s like to lost your vision all at once, and what happens next. Listen to the whole episode here and tell us what you think in the comments!

Ever Had Problems with a Rideshare or Taxi App?

a collage of rideshare apps: Lyft, Uber, Flywheel, Sidecare, etc.

Here at the LightHouse, we want to help focus the conversation on apps and accessibility. The logical place to start, it seems, is with transportation network companies (TNCs), which use apps with great success to provide new transportation options.

When you need a ride, who do you call?

The blind community has lots of strong feelings, both positive and negative, when it comes to “ridesharing” apps. These apps, such as Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, FlyWheel, and others, have come to all but replace the old taxi system with a form of transportation that’s cheaper, faster, and, if you know how to work a smartphone, far more convenient than calling a cab. Members of the blindness community have proven to be some of these technologies’ earliest adopters and biggest fans; some of us even attend public hearings to speak in favor of the startups that inhabit our city and make it easier for us to get around.

But even with the best innovations come new roadblocks. In particular, some rideshare companies have not done a very good job of educating their drivers (most-often independent contractors) about the stipulations of the ADA, which makes it illegal for places of public accommodation to deny someone service based on a disability. Many specific issues are going to court, but for every case that ends up in the courts, we know there are dozens more stories that are untold.

This is our call to the blindness community, both in San Francisco and internationally, to weigh in with your feedback about specific rideshare services — not to comment on the recent Uber case per se, but to tell us personally what you’ve experienced as a visually impaired person, using any and all of the available options now on the market.

Which app has the biggest problems? Which ones are doing everything right? Did you ever feel discriminated against? Perhaps these apps have only changed your life for the better — we want to hear about that, too!

To share your story, good or bad, you can comment, send us a message on Facebook, Tweet at us, or even email our community manager directly at communications@lighthouse-sf.org. This is about ironing out the rough edges, celebrating what already works, and making sure that we will live in a future where we can expect all the same rights and enjoyments as the rest of the public. We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback!