May 31, 2011


NLS has a new 'Talking Book' format with new machines which play
book 'cartridges' which hold the entire book digitally
Stay up to date and connected to the world. Enjoy the latest bestsellers, history books, westerns, and mysteries, even if you are unable to use regular print materials. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress, administers a free nationwide program that loans recorded books and magazines, as well as the equipment needed to read them, to U.S. residents whose low vision, blindness, or physical disability makes reading regular print difficult.

NLS provides service through a network of cooperating libraries in each state. To find contact information for our cooperating libraries, please visit and select your state. Or call Alice O'Reilly at (202) 707-0538 with any questions about the NLS free reading program for blinded veterans and active-duty service members.

Contributed by Alice O’Reilly
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

CLICK HERE for a link to the NLS website

CLICK HERE for a link to APPLICATION for NLS Services


May 27, 2011


Photograph of several American Flags marking military grave sites for Memorial Day
Please take a moment to participate in the National Moment of Remembrance to honor the sacrifices made by members of the Armed Forces as well as others who have died as a result of service to this nation. Americans around the world should pause and remember these heroes in a symbolic act of unity.  We encourage all Americans to honor those who died as a result of service to this Nation by pausing for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day.

May 25, 2011

VA Palo Alto Healthcare System 2010 Annual Report Available On-line

Cover of the VAPAHCS 2010 Annual Report
The VA Palo Alto Health Care System has made its 2010 Annual Report 'The Path to Excellence' available on their Website.  Users can open the PDF file online and have access to the entire report.  Articles for 2010 include the 'Director's Column', 2010 statistics, construction updates, communication advancements, changes to our campuses and services, 2010 events, and much more.  

May 23, 2011


Photo of an American flag, rippling in the breeze
Several veterans of the United States Armed Forces who have lost their sight and then become role models for others living with blindness will visit their counterparts in the United Kingdom May 22-28.
            Project Gemini, an initiative of St Dunstan’s of London, England, and the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), headquartered in Washington, DC, will take six American blinded veterans, four of them blinded in recent combat operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, across the Atlantic Ocean for six days of educational exchange and the sharing of friendship, knowledge, and insights with their British comrades.
Subjects of discussion will be rehabilitation and readjustment training, vision research, and adaptive technology for the blind. The two groups will also tour the British Parliament and visit with American military staff and embassy personnel at the U.S Embassy in London.
They will share helpful hints about coping with blindness and the “war stories” that are part of the adjustment processes. They will compare the British veterans’ health care system with that of the American system operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs and its dozens of component medical centers, outpatient clinics, and veterans’ homes throughout the country.
Also part of the week’s scheduled events are recreational rehabilitation activities that will include kayaking, blind archery, and horseback riding.
            Making the Transatlantic journey are Operation Iraqi Freedom blinded veterans Douglas Cereghin of Phoenix, Arizona; Jeffrey Mittman of New Palestine, Indiana; Andrew “A. J.” Tong of Snoqualmie, Washington; and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) blinded veteran Steven Beres, who is also BVA’s National Treasurer.
            Other BVA officials joining the “St Dunstaners” are National President Dr. Roy Kekahuna, a Vietnam era veteran injured in combat, and Director of Government Relations Dr. Tom Zampieri, who is legally blind due to Retinitis Pigmentosa. Major Derrick Johnson, Executive Officer of the Department of Defense Vision Center of Excellence, will also accompany the group and participate in its activities.
            Project Gemini is an outgrowth of Operation Peer Support, a BVA program begun in 2006 that brings together veterans of recent conflicts with those who have lost their sight in Vietnam, Korea, or during World War II. The objective of the program is to provide veterans who have lost their sight recently with examples of and opportunities to interact with men and women who have led happy and prosperous lives despite their blindness
            In 2008, BVA sponsored the participation of three service members from across the ocean at its 63rd National Convention. Project Gemini returns the favor on British soil.
            St Dunstan’s was founded in 1915 shortly before the outbreak of World War I.  BVA traces its beginning to 1945 when a group of war-blinded servicemen met at Avon Old Farms Convalescent Hospital near Avon, Connecticut, on March 28 of that year.

For more information contact:
Tom Zampieri

May 20, 2011

Introducing CAT Skills: Keyboard Shortcuts

Picture of a person's hand on a computer keyboard
CAT (Computer Access Training) Skills is a new feature on the WBRC Blog that offers tips, techniques, trouble-shooting ideas and answers to frequently asked questions to CAT graduates and other WBRC students utilizing accessible computer technology, like ZoomText, Guide, JAWS and Dragon.  Follow the WBRC Blog and look for the monthly CAT Skills.  Featured this month are everyday keyboard shortcuts for all computer users.  Stay tuned for tips on ZoomText.

Everyday Shortcut Key Commands
Ctrl C = Copy (copy selected text)
Ctrl X = Cut (cut selected text)
Ctrl V = Paste (paste selected text)
Ctrl Z = Undo (undo last command)  
Ctrl P = Print
Ctrl S = Save
ALT Tab = Toggle between running programs
ALT F4 = Close open windows or programs
Ctrl T = Opens a new Tab in Internet Explorer

Post contributed by Susan Marshall, CATs Instructor

May 17, 2011

WBRC Team Completes the 100th Annual Bay to Breakers Race

A WBRC staff team completed the 100th Annual Bay to Breakers Race
On Sunday May 15th five WBRC staff members participated in and completed the 100th Annual Bay to Breakers 12K race in San Francisco, CA.
The course starts near San Francisco Bay then runs 7.46 miles west to Ocean Beach
The ‘Bay to Breakers’ is an annual footrace which starts at the northeast end of the downtown area a few blocks from the San Francisco Bay and runs west through the city to finish at Ocean Beach.  The complete course is 7.46 miles long and registrants for the race were capped at 50,000 people. 
The WBRC Bay to Breakers Team, from left to right; Richard Wing, Don Vu,
Summer Beasley-Hoffman, Dan Nakamura, and Brian Higgins
The WBRC staff team members worked for months to prepare for the race; meeting to encourage each other and often training together.  Two of the WBRC staff participants also have vision impairments.  One of these members worked together with another staff member to navigate throughout the course using human guide.  The WBRC staff team consisted of Richard Wing, WBRC RN Manager; Don Vu, WBRC Admissions Coordinator; Summer Beasley-Hoffman, WBRC Orientation and Mobility Specialist; Dan Nakamura, WBRC CNVR Therapist;  and Brian Higgins, WBRC CATs Supervisor.  Simone Schlick, WBRC Social Worker, also trained with the team however was unfortunately not able to participate on the day of the race.

We also heard from a WBRC Alumni who completed the race for the first time this year while working with a partner using a tether.  He stated that he and his partner ran the entire 7.46 mile race and finished with good time.  He was so pleased with his experience that he is planning to continue the sport of running and compete in future races. 

Congratulations to our WBRC staff members and alumni for completing the 100th annual Bay to Breakers race.

May 13, 2011

WBRC Alumni's Paddling Club Makes the News

A Makapo Canoe Club crew paddling during a 2010 open ocean competition

WBRC Alumnus, Richard Worlitz, contacted us to let us know that the paddling club he is involved with has made the news.  The club, called the 'Makapo Canoe Club', is an Orange County based non-profit group through the O.C. Makapo Aquatics Project which provides training and competition support to persons who are legally blind.  'Makapo' is a Hawaiian word with the meaning 'blind' and is actually made up of two words, 'Maka' (Eye) and 'Po' (Dark). 

The group trains and competes in several styles of outrigger canoe races throughout the West Coast and is hoping to to travel to Kona to compete in the Queen Liliuokalani Outrigger Canoe Race later this year.  These races are completed on the open ocean and range in distance from 3 miles to over 25 miles.  The outrigger canoes are manned by crews of 5 paddlers (who all have visual impairments) and a sighted steersman.  The Makapo Canoe Club crews compete in these races against crews from other teams who are fully sighted.

The Makapo Canoe Club was featured on their local Orange County news station, KTLA, on May 4th, 2011.  Several clips aired which covered the club, the sport, the crew, and the challenges of paddling blind. 

CLICK HERE for a link to the MAKAPO Canoe Club website

CLICK HERE for a link to the KTLA NEWS clips

May 5, 2011

New PTSD Iphone Application Available

New PTSD Coach IPhone App
The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense have teamed together to develop a free IPhone application, called the 'PTSD Coach', for Veterans dealing with symptoms of PTSD.  The App can link them to local sources for support, help them manage symptoms, and provide education about PTSD.  PTSD Coach is also being encouraged for families and friends of those experiencing PTSD to download. 

The application is not a replacement for treatment and is only intended to be an additional resource for Veterans with PTSD to combine with mental health treatment and other medical services available to veterans through VA Benefits.  There are plans to also publish an Android version in mid June 2011.

CLICK HERE for more information from the VA WEBSITE

May 2, 2011

New WBRC CATS Instructor Named

Susan Marshall, new WBRC CATS Instructor. 
WBRC is proud to announce that Susan Marshall has accepted the position of WBRC Computer Access Training (CATS) Department Instructor.  Susan’s start date was April 11th, 2011.  Prior to her current position Susan was an Orientation and Mobility Intern at the Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center (EBRC) in West Haven, CT. 

In addition to her experience in Blind Rehabilitation, Susan has over 15 years of experience in the technology industry and has served in various program management and leadership roles.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Communications and a Master’s Degree in Systems Management.  She completed her training in Blind Rehabilitation at Salus University (formerly Pennsylvania College of Optometry) and is also certified by the ACVREP as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist.  Susan has been an active volunteer at the WBRC since 2008 and reports that she is delighted to be part of the WBRC team.