Update from the Earle Baum Center on 16 October 2017
City of Santa Rosa Fire Update
EBC classes, training, and activities have resumed unless air quality or evacuation areas prevent them.
We are serving as a resource for evacuation and assistance centers when helping people with vision loss. We are also helping those with sight loss displaced by the fire replace canes, glasses, and magnifiers as well as connect to other agencies providing service they need. We thank all those who have expressed their concern for our clients, staff, and friends. Many we know have lost everything.
We encourage people to register with the Red Cross Safe and Well site:
The Santa Rosa City emergency site (https://srcity.org/610/Emergency-Information) is very useful and comprehensive, and works well with assistive technology like screen readers.
Radio station KSRO is giving current and up-to-date information, including press conferences. They are at 1350 am, 103.5 fm, and streaming at http://www.ksro.com.
Most of our staff are back on site so feel free to call if you have questions (707-523-3222) or look for updates on Facebook - just friend the "Earl Baum Center". Stay safe and help your community and family. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to those with lost homes and loved ones.
The Earle Baum Center Team
11 October 2017
From the CEO
Concern, resilience, fortitude, and sympathy
These are what we are seeing demonstrated at the Earle Baum Center during this disastrous fire.
Thank you to all who have called or sent emails to check on our safety. We have reopened to continue training and activities for people with sight loss. And we are here as a resource to help other organizations serve people with sight loss.
As of noon on October 11, the buildings and grounds are not damaged. We are holding scheduled classes as teachers become available. The closest fire is only a few miles away, however, and we are monitoring conditions closely. Large cinders have landed around the property.
While we are responding to this disaster, we are living it. All our staff and directors are safe. Not all can return home, and some don't know the status of their homes. Jeff, our technology manager, says he's grateful that he still has a home. It's in the evacuation zone, so he can't go home yet. His sister's home is gone. Our instructor, Cathy, and our board member, Linda, have been advised to have evacuation kits by their doors because the fire is close. We have been in touch with some of our clients but not all. We know some have evacuated and others are prepared, but there are many that we have not heard from and can't get in touch with.
Communication systems in the area are compromised, and we haven't heard from all those we care about. We encourage people to register with the Red Cross Safe and Well site:
The Santa Rosa City emergency site
is very useful and comprehensive, and works well with assistive technology like screen readers.
Radio station KSRO is giving current and up-to-date information, including press conferences. They are at 1350 am, 103.5 fm, and streaming at
Many of our staff are here on site so feel free to call if you have questions (707-523-3222) or look for updates on Facebook - just friend the "Earl Baum Center". Stay safe and help your community and family. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to those with lost homes and loved ones.
The Earle Baum Center Team
Helping People Achieve Their Goals.
We're very proud that we help those who are blind or visually impaired improve and enrich their lives. That's our mission. We teach people how to travel safely, prevent falls, and stay independent in their own homes as long as possible.
Sometimes, we help folks (even technophobes!) use voice commands for their phones or have the computer read aloud what's on the screen. It's all about helping people adjust to the loss of vision, which has to include how to share it with family, friends, and neighbors.
After we teach the basics, we offer plenty of opportunities to practice newfound skills in a supportive environment. Take art history, for instance. Or yoga, ukulele, tap dance, birding by ear, exercise, and book group! There are also low-vision support groups to reinforce the training. Teachers and staff (many of whom have vision loss) inspire our students daily by sharing their own stories and leading full and exciting lives.
Some of the students in our classes have large goals like switching careers or traveling internationally. Others want to use their remaining vision to see family photos, knit, read, or watch shows. We offer a wide variety of training to help people achieve their goals.
Our community center provides a place where people learn from each other in less formal ways. Conversations over coffee, sharing a joke or a snack, or getting a much-needed hug can make all the difference. And on our beautiful Earle Baum campus, we can practice safe travel on well-kept walking trails.
The majority of our support comes from you. Your investment is helping local residents like Cindy and Jan who are highlighted in this newsletter.
Thank you. We are very proud to have supporters like you!
Dan Needham, CEO
Respecting Seniors and Wisdom
My swim buddy, Jim, took his last breath the day before I wrote this. He was 81. He led a life filled with learning, adventures, compassion, and work. He was most happy when he had a creative project going-a book of poetry, an exhibition of his photographs, or a person he was mentoring. We were good friends for over 20 years. We swam the English Channel as members of a 6-person relay team in 2002. I learned a lot from him; he shared his wisdom with many.
Jim received some services from the Earle Baum Center. He was a kind donor as well, enabling us to help others with their vision loss. The vast majority of people served by the Earle Baum Center have age-related vision loss. The average age of folks we help is around 72. Government support for many has diminished or ended. Insurance doesn't cover blindness or low vision training. Seventy percent of the blind are unemployed.
We strive to train people of all ages with vision loss to have active, fulfilling, and engaged lives. We look to our community to help us continue training seniors to travel safely with a cane, prevent falls, and remain safe and independent at home. With you in our corner, we'll keep offering access to books, the internet, and email. We'll help all who need us adjust to vision loss and learn to advocate for themselves as family and community members. We'll also offer activities for people to practice these learned skills and come together in groups to enjoy new or longtime interests and to embrace the support of their peers.
Many thanks to Jim and other individuals and organizations that help. I intend to heed his lessons of compassion and generosity. If you have the means and wisdom to be here for the Earle Baum Center today, we will be here for you tomorrow.
Dan Needham, CEO
The Importance of Our Training
I can talk about orientation and mobility, assistive technology, and independent living skills. But those terms don't describe the importance of our training. So I'm starting to use phrases like "fall prevention, safe travel, and finding your way to places you want to visit", or "how to do things at home like cook, clean, laundry, manage finances, and match clothes if you can't see things very well,", or "how to use a computer, tablet, or smart phone if you can't see the screen well or at all".
I describe this amazing place and all the people who help make it amazing as a school and a community center. First, imagine a strong foundation with two layers.
The first layers are our Low Vision Clinic and our Counseling programs. If you have any remaining vision, we help you find a combination of lenses, lighting, and tools to best use the vision you have. Also, vision loss is exactly that, a loss. And human beings go through a process when we lose something or someone we care about. It's normal. And getting help from a professional and others who have gone through something similar can be helpful and often necessary to move through the process and be ready to learn new skills to live safely and independently with sight loss.
On top of those two foundational layers rest our core training classes - the school. These are the classes, groups, and professional instruction that help people learn what I mentioned above.
ORIENTATION AND MOBILITY develops the skills required to travel independently, safely and confidently. Specific instruction covers spatial concepts, sensory awareness, white cane skills, and the use of public transportation.
INTRODUCTION AND LIVING WITH VISION LOSS are group classes designed to address an individual's emotional adjustment to sight loss as well as information, techniques and equipment to lead an active life.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY SERVICES evaluate a person's skills and needs, and offers instruction in the use of adaptive hardware and software. One on one instruction is offered for: computers, notetakers, cell phones, screen readers, and Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems.
INDEPENDENT LIVING SKILLS teaches adaptive skills for cooking, shopping, financial and household management, clothing color matching and more.
BRAILLE INSTRUCTION teaches Braille reading and writing. Practical use of Braille includes labeling foods, files, clothing, games and more.
Learning those core skills are important, and people need to practice them outside of classes to use them to lead a full life. Supported by the foundation and core training classes is our Community Center. Our Community Center programs help people with vision loss continue hobbies and interests and develop new ones. There are exercise, dance, and musical opportunities. We have classes including art history, tai chi, and yoga. We have technology and book clubs, support groups and field trips. Peer support and teaching is a valuable part of the Community Center.
You can help us strengthen the foundation, maintain the school, and enhance the community center. Your contribution will help. If you are here for us today, we can be there for you tomorrow.
Dan Needham, CEO