September 30, 2011

Save the Date: 2011 White Cane Awareness Walk

Graphic: Person Walking with
a long cane.

Please save the date for the
2011 White Cane Awareness Walk
Wednesday October 19, 2011

Downtown Palo Alto
Palo Alto City Hall
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA


10:15 AM        Assemble at Palo Alto City Hall
10:30 AM        Walk from City Hall Palo Alto
11:00 AM        Photo & Proclamation at Palo Alto City Hall

All are welcome --- white cane users, sighted guides, V-1 scooter users, dog guide users, blindfolded sighted folks {with cane skills or a human guide} ---on a half mile walk around downtown Palo Alto. 

For more information contact Brian Higgins at 650-906-9412

September 28, 2011

WBRC Staff 'Walk Through' New Menlo Park Building

Photo: Exterior view of new WBRC building and outdoor Recreation
Therapy area including golf putting green and horseshoe pits.
Wednesday September 14th - A small group of WBRC staff completed a walk through of the Menlo Park temporary WBRC building.  The current WBRC building on the Palo Alto Campus is scheduled to be demolished, and a new state of the art facility will be built over the same site which will house a significantly larger WBRC facility and a new Polytruama facility.
Photo: WBRC staff review building plans prior to walk through.
The temporary Menlo Park structure is made up of 52 modular sections arranged on one level and covers 42,000 square feet.  It will provide the WBRC with much needed increased training, office, and storage space while the permanent Palo Alto location is constructed.

Photo: WBRC Staff tour the basic shop area.
Currently construction consists of mostly finishing work with painting, trim, and flooring being installed.  The construction is expected to be completed near the end of 2011 with the WBRC move pending shortly after final inspection and approval of the site. 

September 16, 2011

CAT Skills: Browsing Websites and Forms with JAWS

Photo: Web page and Links List displayed using Insert + F7

 Website designers try to make websites visually appealing and easy to navigate, but often don’t take into account those utilizing accessible software, like JAWS (screen-reading software).  Additionally, there are some basic rules for Website design, but no real standards which again, can make navigation frustrating and time consuming.  To make Website and Form navigation more efficient and less frustrating, following are easy to use tips for JAWS users:
Quick and Easy Website Navigation
Ø  INSERT + F7 brings up a List of all Links on a current page.  The List of Links can be explored by using the Up and Down arrow keys.  Then, press the Enter key to activate the chosen link.  Additionally, using the first character in a Link, like C for Contacts, is a quick way to find the desired link (see example).
Ø  INSERT + F6 to display a list of all headings on the current page.  Likewise in the links list, use Up and Down arrow keys to explore the list and the ENTER key to jump to the beginning of the chosen heading.
Ø  INSERT+ F5 to display a list of all form fields on the current page.  Use the arrow keys to select an item and press ENTER to jump to that item.
Ø  INSERT + F9 to display a list of all frames/content on a current page.
Quick and Easy Table and Spreadsheet Navigation
Ø  ALT + CTRL + RIGHT or LEFT ARROW takes you from Column to Column, Cell to Cell or Item by Item. 
Ø  ALT + CTRL + UP or DOWN ARROW takes you from the Cell Above or Below in a Column or Cell.

Ø  CTRL + WINDOWS KEY + SHIFT + J returns to the previous cell.
o  These keyboard strokes are particularly helpful for navigating through Bank Statements, Telephone Bills, Bus and Train schedules or most anything in a table format.

September 13, 2011

Palo Alto VIST Department Launches Updated Website

Image: Screen shot of the newly
updated Palo Alto VIST website
The VAPAHCS Palo Alto VIST department has launched a newly updated website.  The website contains information about what VIST is, services available through VIST, and how to contact VIST coordinators as well as several links including one to the WBRC Website and one to the WBRC Blog. 

The VIST department and VAPAHCS Public Affairs Office have done a wonderful job in updating this website.  It is sure to be a valuable resource to share information about services available through the VA for Veterans with vision loss.

September 9, 2011

A Message from Secretary Eric K. Shinseki on the Tenth Anniversary of September 11, 2001

Photo of an American Flag
This is a time of remembrance, resilience, and renewal. For those who witnessed the heartrending collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the fireballing of American Airlines flight 77 into the Pentagon, the shock of 9/11/2001 was immediate, bewildering, and removed the vestiges of our innocence.   

In an age of instant communications and constant news coverage, unlike other calamities visited on the American people, this attack on our homeland was witnessed within minutes by nearly an entire Nation, and within an hour by much of the world. Even today, it is difficult to watch the tragic images of the towers imploding without feeling as though one’s heart had dropped into the pit of one’s stomach. 

For those at the Pentagon, the urgency of evacuating the wounded was followed by anxious days, that stretched into weeks, of searching for the missing, recovering their remains, comforting families, treating the horrific injuries from an attack specifically targeting noncombatants, and attending the long procession of funerals over the following months.

Ten years after this unwarranted surprise attack, we remember those lost—American and non-American, believers from all faiths—Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and so many other religions—our brightest, most generous peoples.   

In the intervening decade, we have proven our resilience as a Nation. Those who perpetrated this tragic loss of life failed in their plan to bring this country to its knees politically, economically, militarily, and socially. We remain, today, a beacon for all who love liberty and cherish freedom. We remain free and confident and resilient as a people, and in doing so, we categorically reject those who tried to bring us and our democracy down. We have prevailed in choosing to live our lives without fear, without constraint, and without distrust.

Five million men and women have served in our armed forces since the turn of the century; three million of them have joined since September 11, 2001, knowing that they would likely go into combat. Their service and sacrifice in response to the attacks have been defined, like every generation that has gone to war for this Nation, by the virtues of selfless service, sacrifice, and devotion to duty.

We, at the Department of Veterans Affairs, are grateful to these men and women who serve and have served. They are the flesh and blood of American exceptionalism—the living, breathing embodiment of our national values and our special place in the world. 

On this tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, we remember and honor those lost on 9/11 in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania — and all who have given their last full measure of devotion in the decade since to hold accountable those who spawned this tragedy. As we remember victims, heroes, and families, we remain resilient and resolute in renewing our commitment to the principles that have preserved our way of life for over 235 years now. 

May God continue to bless America.

- Secretary Eric K. Shinseki
Department of Veterans Affairs

September 1, 2011

September VIST Group Meetings Scheduled for Palo Alto and Stockton

Image: VIST Logo
The Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) group is open to all veterans, Active-Duty Service Members, family members and those interested in promoting the community of B/VI veterans in the region are welcome. We have varying presentations and discussions of new technology, special training and many subjects relevant to B/VI persons.

The next Palo Alto VIST group meeting will be held on Thursday September 15th from 1 pm to 2 pm at the address below:
VAPAHCS Palo Alto Hospital
Building 48 (WBRC) Room A208
3801 Miranda Ave
Palo Alto, CA 93401

The next Stockton VIST group meeting will be held on Thursday September 22nd from 10:30 am to 11:30 am at the address below:
Stockton Community Center for the Blind
Conference Room
130 W Flora St
Stockton, CA 95202
(209) 466-3836