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Your Chance to Name a Space at the New LightHouse Headquarters

Several naming opportunities are still available as part of our Campaign to Build a 21st Century LightHouse, a project that has enabled the LightHouse to grow our programs, serve more people and expand our impact. Thank you for being a part of it, and helping us provide transformative services for people who are blind or have low vision.

Every named room is marked by a permanent sign accessible in large print, braille and tactile lettering. These attractive signs are a distinctive hallmark of the new LightHouse and we’d be delighted to honor you, your family or friends with the opportunity.

The new LightHouse welcomes all who are blind or have low vision. From teens looking to meet other blind kids and do some fun weekend activities, to adults adjusting to changing vision and learning the skills they need to go back to work and everything else they want to do. A community of peers and mentors, the LightHouse is for blind people to gain skills, find support and grow.

Contributions to the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse will provide tangible benefits for the blind kids, teens, adults and seniors that benefit from the joy and learning of the LightHouse for the next century. To learn more about the campaign, naming opportunities or how a gift from your estate can be used to name a space and leave an enduring legacy in you or a loved one’s honor, contact 415-694-7333 or jsachs@lighthouse-sf.org.

Here is our current list of naming opportunities:

Access Technology Demo Room

Adaptations Store

10th Floor Reception

Auditorium-Multi-Purpose Room (capacity 150)

Blindness Skills Training Area

Conference Room 925

Fitness Gym and Yoga Studio

Immersion Student Lounge

Integrating Stairwell

Living Room 11th Floor

Living Room-9th Floor

Volunteer Area

Thank you to our donors who have named rooms:

10th Floor: Herbst 10th Floor Reception and Community Learning Center

Art Room: Dove’s Nest Craft Studio

Board Room: Harold S. Dobbs Board Conference Room

Braille Room: Winifred Downing Braille Room

DPR Conference Toom 955

Enchanted Hills Office: Gena Harper and Mike May Enchanted Hills Camp and Retreat Office

Executive Suite: Michael and Leslye Dellar Executive Office

Finance Offices: US Bank Finance Suite

Ham Radio Room: Bill Gerrey, WA6NPC Amateur Radio Station

MADLab: Jerry Kuns and Theresa Postello MADLab

Pre-function Lounge: Susan O’Sullivan Room in memory of Audrey Baker

Recording Studio: Mike Cole Recording Studio

Staff Lounge: Mutual of America Staff Lounge

STEM Lab: Innovation Lab by Toyota

Student Kitchen: Hilda Angelica Cavagnero Student Kitchen

Student Residence: Erman Vincent Cavagnero Student Residence

Teaching Kitchen: Betty Ruhland Teaching Kitchen

Tech Training Rooms: Kebbel Family Tech Labs #1, #2, #3

UC Berkeley Clinic: Joseph K. Chan Low Vision Clinic

Video Conference Room: Polara Video Conference Center

Help Build New Programs for the Year Ahead

At LightHouse, we’re always dreaming up new recreational and educational programming to offer to our students — right now it’s yoga, qi gong, cooking classes, health workshops, guest speakers, bingo and even game nights.

In the coming year, we want to give the community a chance to  weigh in on programs, so we’ve put together a survey to collect your input so we can continue to design fun and engaging programs that you’ll feel compelled to attend.

Fill out this two-question survey here or in the scroll box below by September 20th and be entered in a drawing to win a Chipotle gift certificate for lunch for two. We value your time and input!

Create your survey with SurveyMonkey

Video: Meet Braille Skateboarding’s First Blind Employee

In 2013, Alex Harding moved to the US from Sierra Leone, by himself, with only a $100 bill in his pocket.

Alex was young, but full of curiosity and a desire to learn and grow in the US job market. Still, as a person with low vision, Alex was at a disadvantage. As his vision changed, it became a struggle to show employers that he could work. In 2016, he signed up for the LightHouse’s Employment Immersion Program, and today he manages the facility of one of the web’s most popular skateboarding brands, Braille Skateboarding.

This is his story.

Braille Skateboarding is a tenant of LightHouse for the Blind at the Sirkin Center in San Leandro. We established a rental agreement with Braille Skateboarding because of their commitment to employ blind people like Alex.

If you’re blind, have low vision or have just experienced a change in vision and you want to gain the skills and confidence to jump back into the working world, we have a new four-week program just for you. To sign up, email Angela Denise Davis at adavis@lighthouse-sf.org or contact your local Department of Rehabilitation counselor and ask to be enrolled.

Video: Meet Braille Skateboarding’s First Blind Employee

In 2013, Alex Harding moved to the US from Sierra Leone, by himself, with only a $100 bill in his pocket.

Alex was young, but full of curiosity and a desire to learn and grow in the US job market. Still, as a person with low vision, Alex was at a disadvantage. As his vision changed, it became a struggle to show employers that he could work. In 2016, he signed up for the LightHouse’s Employment Immersion Program, and today he manages the facility of one of the web’s most popular skateboarding brands, Braille Skateboarding.

This is his story.

Braille Skateboarding is a tenant of LightHouse for the Blind at the Sirkin Center in San Leandro. We established a rental agreement with Braille Skateboarding because of their commitment to employ blind people like Alex.

If you’re blind, have low vision or have just experienced a change in vision and you want to gain the skills and confidence to jump back into the working world, we have a new four-week program just for you. To sign up, email Angela Denise Davis at adavis@lighthouse-sf.org or contact your local Department of Rehabilitation counselor and ask to be enrolled.

Pick Up Your Back to School Accessibility Kit

A black LightHouse tote with tactile maps, boldline paper and a full page writing guide peeking out.
A black LightHouse tote with tactile maps, bold line paper and a full page writing guide peeking out.

Are you a teacher or educator working with blind and visually impaired students? Or maybe just a parent looking for tools to help your blind child do their homework? If so, the Adaptations Store has you covered for the school year ahead.

Just in time to head back to school, our Premier Kit for Teachers of Blind Students is a newly-introduced, premium accessibility kit containing more than 20 hand-picked products you will find yourself reaching for again and again throughout the school year.

With the Premier Kit, you can:

  • Create markings and labels using a Dymo tape labeler, which comes with three rolls of clear, adhesive labeling tape
  • Need to create a label or a sign containing more than one line? No problem. The kit includes clear plastic adhesive sheets that can be cut into any size or shape
  • Bump Dots and Locator Dots can be a great way to add a simple tactile mark wherever you may need one
  • A slate and stylus for brailling, Bold Writer Pens and items like our boldline tablet or a full-page writing guide offer numerous choices to both students and teachers alike
  • Create helpful shapes and diagrams using the included package of Wikki Stix
  • Teach a student about geographic locations in and around the country with our included maps of both the state of California as well as the continental US.
  • Use the pocket-sized contractions guide to refresh students’ knowledge of the Unified English Braille Code
  • Practice reading by playing a game with a set of tactile dice or a pack of playing cards
  • The Braille/large print ruler can be used to teach the concept of measuring, and a talking keychain clock is a great way to show young students about telling time
  • Braille alphabet cards for those beginners who are new to Braille, or for showing the concept of Braille to sighted classmates

All of these helpful items come packaged conveniently in an easy-to-carry LightHouse tote bag.

The Premier Kit for Teachers of Blind Students retails for $125 from the LightHouse for the Blind’s Adaptations Store, and can be shipped anywhere in the US. Give us a call at 415-694-7301 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to order yours today!

Pick Up Your Back to School Accessibility Kit

A black LightHouse tote with tactile maps, boldline paper and a full page writing guide peeking out.
A black LightHouse tote with tactile maps, bold line paper and a full page writing guide peeking out.

Are you a teacher or educator working with blind and visually impaired students? Or maybe just a parent looking for tools to help your blind child do their homework? If so, the Adaptations Store has you covered for the school year ahead.

Just in time to head back to school, our Premier Kit for Teachers of Blind Students is a newly-introduced, premium accessibility kit containing more than 20 hand-picked products you will find yourself reaching for again and again throughout the school year.

With the Premier Kit, you can:

  • Create markings and labels using a Dymo tape labeler, which comes with three rolls of clear, adhesive labeling tape
  • Need to create a label or a sign containing more than one line? No problem. The kit includes clear plastic adhesive sheets that can be cut into any size or shape
  • Bump Dots and Locator Dots can be a great way to add a simple tactile mark wherever you may need one
  • A slate and stylus for brailling, Bold Writer Pens and items like our boldline tablet or a full-page writing guide offer numerous choices to both students and teachers alike
  • Create helpful shapes and diagrams using the included package of Wikki Stix
  • Teach a student about geographic locations in and around the country with our included maps of both the state of California as well as the continental US.
  • Use the pocket-sized contractions guide to refresh students’ knowledge of the Unified English Braille Code
  • Practice reading by playing a game with a set of tactile dice or a pack of playing cards
  • The Braille/large print ruler can be used to teach the concept of measuring, and a talking keychain clock is a great way to show young students about telling time
  • Braille alphabet cards for those beginners who are new to Braille, or for showing the concept of Braille to sighted classmates

All of these helpful items come packaged conveniently in an easy-to-carry LightHouse tote bag.

The Premier Kit for Teachers of Blind Students retails for $125 from the LightHouse for the Blind’s Adaptations Store, and can be shipped anywhere in the US. Give us a call at 415-694-7301 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to order yours today!

In a Batch of Blind Hires, Companies Prove Dedication to Inclusivity

Lockheed Martin, App Dynamic, Grove Collective, the San Francisco Public Library and the State of the California—what do these things all have in common?

Each of these companies and institutions hired one of our Employment Immersion Graduates within the last two weeks, representing a step towards improving employment rates in the blind and visually impaired community.

These five hires are a testament to our students’ tenacity and hard work, as well as to companies’ increasing dedication to inclusivity. The batch of prestigious hires also speaks volumes to the commitment of our Employment Immersion Program staff, who work one-on-one with students even after they complete the four-week program and liaise with employers to match them with students, and vice versa.

“We don’t care if you’re young, old, totally blind, low vision, have a college degree or no college degree,” says Employment Program Manager Kate Williams. “It doesn’t matter as long as you have a real desire to go to work. We furnish our Employment Immersion students with the tools to make sure that happens, by building their confidence and giving them the techniques to conduct a successful job search.”

In the blindness community, we know that one size does not fit all, and this is reflected in the curriculum of this four-week workshop. With a combination of short lectures, interactive activities, expert speakers and candid, honest discussions, each blind or low vision student has an opportunity to explore their interests, aptitudes, and think outside the box about which part of the job market holds the highest promise for their talents and ambitions.

Step-by-step training includes:

  • Using personality indicators like Meyers Briggs and Gallup StrengthFinder to identify core strengths as a springboard to build a career
  • Resume and cover letter building
  • Job search techniques, networking and the hidden job market
  • The application process
  • Blindness disclosure and requesting accommodations
  • Interview preparation including self presentation and body language
  • Free professional and online portrait photographs courtesy of LightHouse for the Blind
  • How to approach an interview and role playing
  • Job retention

Williams, who is a Purpose Prize Winner and nationally recognized job coach by the Wall Street Journal, is the driving force behind these achievements. She knows what it takes to get blind jobseekers into positions that suit them and keep them there — and the payoff doesn’t end on payday.

“We spend a great deal of time on encouraging our attendees to connect,” says Williams. “My motto is ‘People hire people.’ We help students make connections during the job search and interview process that are genuine and show their own authenticity. We’re fostering relationship building — which is a lifelong skill.”

With an increase in referrals as LightHouse steps in as the key provider of services in the East Bay, our Employment Immersion Program is growing and evolving to meet higher standards and increasing volume of blind jobseekers. The sky’s the limit, once the skills are there.

Keep chipping away at those employment statistics and sign up for a Employment Job Preparation Workshop this fall. The workshop is open to people who are blind or have low vision, from any background, seeking any job. To sign up, contact Employment Immersion Trainer Angela Denise Davis at adavis@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7353.

A New Gathering Place: EHC’s Redwood Grove Theater

Over the weekend, Enchanted Hills Construction Manager George Wurtzel placed the last screw in the final hand-constructed and carved redwood benches that are the signature seating of Enchanted Hills’ new 120-person Redwood Grove Theater. It’s a project that has come to fruition over the last 10 years through patience, perseverance and unrivaled community support. And it’s ready just in time for our annual Music Academy Concert on August 12.

RSVP for our Summer Music BBQ this Saturday, 4 p.m. at Enchanted Hills in Napa.

The idea for the theater was born out of a piece of Enchanted Hills’ history relayed to us by longtime Enchanted Hills friend, counselor and historian Hope Sinclair. Hope’s father, Philip Webster, bought the land in 1927 and operated a boy’s camp there for more than 20 years. Hope herself spent much of her childhood at camp in the 1930s and 1940s and developed a detailed love for the nature and history of the place.

From conversations with Hope about the site’s history, Camp Director Tony Fletcher learned that a section of lower camp was often used for meetings and talent shows during its time as a boys camp, due to its natural acoustics. When new CEO Bryan Bashin toured camp in 2010 he instantly saw the potential to restore the disused and junk-filled natural bowl into an outdoor space of unparalleled beauty and usefulness: an outdoor theater area to host concerts, movie nights and large gatherings that would be shady in the summertime and make the most of the area’s fantastic acoustics.

Listen to this video from an impromptu performance in the theater to hear the breathtaking natural acoustics.

It was in keeping with EHC’s mission and the spirit instilled in camp by founder Rose Resnick, who was a talented musician and former concert pianist who helped make music and performance the part of everyday life at EHC that it remains today.

Starting in 2007 with the EHC fire abatement plan, a bowl started to appear as  a troupe of goats hired to clear brush in lower camp. EHC then wrangled various volunteer groups including California Conservation Core, 4H Club and the Greater Napa Kiwanis Club to help clear the area even more, and over the next 10 years the project was brought to completion with the care and collaboration of Bill Cinquini, Alan Butler, Tim Gregory Construction and George Wurtzel, EHC staff and a successful 2015 Indiegogo campaign.

“Getting the Redwood Grove built was a little bit like the LightHouse in microcosm,” says LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin. “Waves of volunteers, AmeriCorps, metal recyclers, architects, the Kiwanis club, donations from Adobe Lumber, and of course our blind  camp construction manager, George Wurtzel, who built the benches with his own hands—this is the community and cooperation I find as beautiful and harmonious as the music you’ll hear on Saturday.”

And Tony doesn’t see the project as totally complete—yet. “This project took the creativity and commitment of many many people. I’m most satisfied to think about all the different folks who have had something to do with this. And I don’t see it as done. The theater could ultimately hold as many as 499 people, so I see it as an evolving process. Hopefully it will continually grow and develop over decades to follow.”

Thank you to the many organizations and individuals who helped bring the Redwood Grove Theater into being. We hope you’ll visit us up at camp on August 12 to witness the beautiful and one-of-a-kind fruits of our labors. Learn more and RSVP for the Music Academy Concert here.

The terraced seating and stage of the Redwood Grove Theater surrounded by lush redwoods.
The terraced seating and stage of the Redwood Grove Theater surrounded by lush redwoods. Photo by Marilyn Bogerd.
A view from behind the stage of the Redwood Grove Theater.
A view from behind the stage of the Redwood Grove Theater. Photo by Marilyn Bogerd.
A side view of a crowd listening to music in the Redwood Grove Theater.
A side view of a crowd listening to music in the Redwood Grove Theater. Photo by Marilyn Bogerd.
A closeup of the redwood benches, which were individually designed and hand carved by EHC Construction Manager George Wurtzel.
A closeup of the redwood benches, which were individually designed and carved by EHC Construction Manager George Wurtzel. Photo by Marilyn Bogerd.
A detail ivy pattern carved into the back of one of the benches.
A detail ivy pattern carved into the back of one of the benches. Photo by Marilyn Bogerd.

Take Instant Audio Notes with the MicroSpeak Digital Recorder

Need to capture some quick reminders on the fly? Want to record important information like phone numbers, prescription numbers, up-coming appointments, etc.? This pocket-sized and easy-to-use digital recorder has you covered, and it’s now available in our Adaptations Store.

Incorporating a high-quality microphone and and high-output speaker into a small, lightweight and compact design, this recorder is the perfect travel companion for those hoping to save info with the touch of a button. The MicroSpeak is rechargeable and offers 12 hours of playback time, so there’s no need to worry about changing batteries. This recorder also includes an on-board user guide, which explains the four-button layout. The also uses clear audible beeps and voice prompts to make operating the device a snap. Simply slide the two-position power switch to the “on” position to hear the battery status and begin using your recorder.

The MicroSpeak has 4GB of space to store your audio files, which can either be played back on the recorder via its internal speaker, or copied to a computer via the USB port located on the bottom of the recorder next to the power switch. The MicroSpeak has buttons on the left side to control volume, which can be liberally turned up without incurring distortion — we call it the tiny recorder with a big sound!

The MicroSpeak Digital Recorder sells for only $54.95 in the Adaptations Store. Stop by and pick one up today!

Our Burning Man Maps for the Blind are Back

Burning Man has ten tenets — perhaps the first and foremost being “radical inclusion”. On their website, the first principle reads, “Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.”

It’s a philosophy that we share at LightHouse, and one that led MAD Lab designer and longtime Burner Julie Sadlier to debut a one-of-a-kind tactile Burning Man map two years ago. In other words, a Burning Man map for blind people.

This year, we’ve updated and improved the hybrid tactile-visual map for Burning Man 2017. The maps, with updated art placement, will be available at several locations in Black Rock City, including the Playa Information Booth, Mobility Camp and the CBT Project (at 7 and Fire), and here at the LightHouse headquarters starting August 23. To pre-order a map, contact our Adaptations Store at 1-888-400-8933 or adaptations@lighthouse-sf.org.

Calling it “awesome, no matter your level of sight,” The Atlantic’s CityLab aptly pointed out that you don’t have to be blind to use our map. Complete with braille, visual, and tactile representations of the event’s streets, information booths, first aid tents, restrooms, bus stops, camping, parking, and notable attractions such as artwork, Mobility Camp, The Temple and of course, The Man, the map is a great tool for anybody getting to know the festival – and one that is equally accessible to those with no vision. Now that’s radical inclusivity.

The map’s creator Julie Sadlier, said the response at Black Rock City over the last two years has been incredible, so much so that the leader of Mobility Camp, “Rat Lady”, contacted her way back in February to make sure she would be designing an updated version of the map for 2017.

“I had multiple people coming to my camp, even when I wasn’t there people were dropping off brailled business cards so they could talk more about the map,” says Julie. “Someone at Playa Information dismantled one copy and hung it on the wall to spread the word.”

It’s this type of openness and inclusivity, we’ve found, that opens unexpected doors and embodies the spirit of the LightHouse for the Blind as well as Burning Man. We look forward to printing even more than last year and to hearing your stories when you get back from the playa!

To get a copy of our map, call the Adaptations Store (1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco) at 1-888-400-8933, or email adaptations@lighthouse-sf.org. If you or your organization would like to design a fully accessible, inclusive map of, well – anything – email madlab@lighthouse-sf.org.