December 30, 2011

A Look Back on 2011

Image: 2012 written in multi-colored sparklers on black background

WBRC would like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy 2012. 

There were several big events for WBRC in 2011, including our move from Palo Alto to our temporary home at Menlo Park.  As we settle in to our new space and prepare for 2012 we have had some time to look back on the past year. 

The following are links to some of our favorite WBRC Blog Posts:

 Photograph of Dr. Goodrich accepting the 'Tiresias' Award at the
2011 ISLRR 10th Annual International Low Vision Conference

 WBRC staff, Paula Wood and Summer Beasley-Hoffman, participate
in training to learn how to document information for the mapping project.

Nicole Marquez, WBRC Recreation Therapist, and a golf pro coach
a WBRC student on his golf swing

The WBRC Bay to Breakers Team, from left to right; Richard Wing, Don Vu,
Summer Beasley-Hoffman, Dan Nakamura, and Brian Higgins

Photo: The 'Flight to Freedom' sculpture located in the WBRC entry area

Photo: WBRC staff review building plans prior to walk through.

Photo: Yurika Vu (left) and Susan Marshall,
both WBRC CATs Instructors, during the walk.
Susan walked the entire route under blindfold
using a long white cane.

Photo: Cactus the Guide Dog pupping in training laying down at
the feet of Laura Koehler, O&M Instructor and Puppy Raiser

Photo: Exterior view of new WBRC building and outdoor Recreation
Therapy area including golf putting green and horseshoe pits.

Photo: L.E. 'Gene' Apple, first Chief of the WBRC, with nurses
and volunteer Marie Dunlap (second from right) in front of the entrance
to building 209 (the original Menlo Park location of the WBRC). 

December 28, 2011

New WBRC Living Skills Instructor Named

Photo: The WBRC Living Skills Department from left to right,
Joanne Baker, Elise Vaughan, Anita Stone, Millicent Williams - Living
Skills Supervisor, Brandon Haile, and Beth Hiseler.

WBRC is proud to announce that Elise Vaughan has accepted the position of WBRC Living Skills Instructor.  Ms. Vaughan’s start date was Nov. 20th 2011.  Ms. Vaughan has dual Master’s Degrees from Western Michigan University in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy and in Orientation and Mobility and also completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Interpersonal Communication at Western Michigan University.  She is accredited by ACVREP as a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and as a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist.  Ms. Vaughan completed her internship programs at the WBRC in both the Orientation and Mobility Department and the Living Skills Department in 2011.  Welcome to the WBRC team Elise.

December 22, 2011

Season's Greetings from WBRC

Image: Vintage Season's Greetings Card with a
blue and white starred pacakge with red and
white striped bow and holly sprigs.
The WBRC family would like to wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and festive Holiday season.  We would also like to extend our greatest thanks to the Veterans we have served throughout the years, your service to our country has awarded us the freedoms we all enjoy today. 

December 21, 2011

WBRC's Return to Menlo Park - A Look Back

WBRC continues to unpack and organize from our move to our new location in Menlo Park December 2nd through 6th of 2011.  Many people are unaware that WBRC originated in Menlo Park and that in a way we are returning to our roots.  Following is a look back at our prior Menlo Park days.

The following information and photographs have been gathered from 'Flight to Freedom 1967-1992: A history of the first 25 years of the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center United States Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Palo Alto, California' edited by L. Eugene Apple, Ph.D. and Gregory L. Goodrich, Ph.D.

Photo: L.E. 'Gene' Apple, first Chief of the WBRC, with nurses
and volunteer Marie Dunlap (second from right) in front of the entrance
to building 209 (the original Menlo Park location of the WBRC). 

The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center began operation as a regional comprehensive rehabilitation facility in July of 1967 at the Menlo Park Campus of the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Health Care System.  The Center opened in building 209 as part of a three story building.  The WBRC occupied 20,000 square feet of this building and had 20 beds for inpatient care. 

WBRC was the second comprehensive rehabilitation center for blinded veterans established by the Veteran's Administration.  It had 5 skill areas for training which were Orientation and Mobility, Manual Skills, Braille, Written Communications, and Counseling.  An Activities of Daily Living and a Low Vision program were added shortly afterwards.

Photo: An early WBRC picnic at the Menlo Park Division.  Gene Apple,
WBRC Chief is sitting down to eat in the forground.  Also shown, standing
at the extreme right of the picture is Jim Doyle, WBRC Assistant Chief.

In January 1972 the WBRC moved to building 205 in Menlo Park after the 1971 San Fernando earthquake and resulting new VA earthquake building standards condemn building 209.  It was anticipated that this building would be phased out within a few years because of further revision to building codes.

Photo: The WBRC Visual Skills Department Staff shortly after the move
to Building 48 in 1977.  Clockwise from left Dee Quillman, Chief of Visual Skills,
with instructors Neil Greiner, Nancy Darling, Helen Shaw, and Gail Webb.

During the mid 1970's the WBRC staff were sent to the VA Medical Center in San Diego to inspect space being made available to Blind Rehabilitation.  Plans were made to move equipment and patients to San Diego.  Projected costs determined this approach unfeasible and planning was begun for a new freestanding building on the Palo Alto Division grounds.  The WBRC moved to the newly constructed building 48 in Palo Alto in 1977.

December 12, 2011

CAT Skills: December 2011

Submitted by: Susan Marshall, WBRC Computer Access Technology (CAT) Instructor

Photo: Computer, Keyboard, and Mouse setup

As our former and future CATS (Computer Access Training Section) students can attest to, computer access training enables them to work, play, communicate and participate in activities that may not otherwise be accessible.  Like all good things, moderation is important because spending too much time logged on will result in tired eyes, headaches, neck pain and a host of other problems.  If you’re an avid computer user and want to avoid the pitfalls of extended computer use, the CATS team recommends that following:

Ø  Stretch your body and move extremities (stretch your hands, walk around, take a break and take a few deep breaths too).

Ø  Keep blinking.  It washes your eyes in naturally therapeutic tears.

Ø  Remember 20-20-20.  Every 20 minutes, spend 20 minutes looking at something 20 feet away, minimum. 

Ø  Get the right light.  Good lighting isn’t just flattering – it’s healthy for your eyes.  Keep bright overhead lighting to a minimum.  Desk lamps should be shining on the desk, not you.  Try to keep window light off to the side, rather than in front or behind you.  Use blinds and get a glare screen.  Position the computer to reduce reflections from windows or overhead lights.

Ø  Monitor your monitor.  Keep it at least 20 inches from your eyes.  Center should be about 4 to 6 inches below your eyes.  Also, make sure it’s big enough with just the right brightness and contrast.  Adjust the screen settings to where they are comfortable.

Ø  Wear those computer specs!  Your eye care specialist can prescribe a pair of glasses just for seeing the computer screen.  Wear the appropriate corrective lenses while at the computer.

Ø  Mind your typing.  Make sure your arms are at a 90 degree angle at your elbow to avoid strain on the median nerve.  Stretch your hands and arms.

December 7, 2011

WBRC has Officially Moved

Photo: The 'Flight to Freedom' sculpture located in the WBRC entry area

We are happy to announce that the WBRC (Western Blind Rehabilitation Center) has officially moved into our new location at the Menlo Park Division of VAPAHCS (Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Heath Care System). 

The newly constructed 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 Rehabilitation Center at the Palo Alto Division is constructed. 

Please see below for information regarding our new mailing address and phone number.

Mailing Address

Western Blind Rehabilitation Center (124)
795 Willow Road
Building T-365
Menlo Park, California 94025

Main number


Nursing Station Extensions


Pearl Harbor Day: A Message from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Photo: a rippling American flag
             Few dates in American history are as deeply burned into our consciousness as December 7, 1941.  Seventy years ago today, American forces on Oahu, Hawai’i, withstood an unprovoked attack, and the fleet at Pearl Harbor suffered devastating losses.  More than 2,400 Americans were killed, many great ships of the Pacific Fleet lay torn and burning, and our Nation was thrust headlong into the largest global conflict in human history.

Pearl Harbor reminds us not only of a solemn chapter in American history, but also of the great courage and resolve displayed by stalwart defenders in fighting off the attackers that day—qualities that have continued to define each succeeding serving generation, including today’s young men and women in uniform.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) honors the memory of those who gave their lives that day, as well as those who fought and survived.  Inspired by their valor and selflessness, America emerged from Pearl Harbor determined to triumph in the ensuing battle against tyranny.  VA also salutes the many courageous Hawaiians who responded to the attack on their home soil by joining the U.S. military and going on to serve with considerable distinction. 

VA honors, remembers, and thanks those who stood the watch and fought off the attacks of December 7, 1941.  May God bless you and your families, and may God continue to bless our great Nation.

Eric K. Shinseki
Secretary of Veterans Affairs

December 1, 2011

WBRC Moving to Menlo Park Starting Friday

Photo: Moving box with 'Moving Day' written on side, marker, and tape

The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center (WBRC) is moving to a new building on the VA Menlo Park Campus between 12/2 – 12/6.  During this time WBRC staff access to email and phone messages will be limited.

The WBRC blog will post information about the new mailing address and phone number for our new Menlo Park location once it is available.

Thank you.