January 6, 2012

Blast From the Past: 1978 WBRC Open House Article

Image: Palo Alto Times newspaper clipping from 1978

Brian Higgins, WBRC CATs Supervisor, found this 1978 Palo Alto Times newspaper clipping while unpacking from our recent move to Menlo Park.  The short article titled ‘VA Blind Center Slates Open House’, describes a WBRC open house scheduled for February 21, 1978, shortly after the WBRC moved from Menlo Park to a newly constructed building [48] on the Palo Alto hospital grounds.  Following below is a typed copy of the article in it's entirety.

‘VA Blind Center Slates Open House’
               [February 17th, 1978] The new $2.9 Million Western Blind Rehabilitation Center at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital has planned an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21.
                The building is the first in the VA system designed and built exclusively for dealing with problems related to blindness and low vision.
                The two-story building, located on the northwest portion of the grounds of the Palo Alto VA hospital, has 38,000 square feet of floor space.  It’s unusual F-shaped design makes it easier for the blind veterans to learn their way around.
                Other features include distinct color schemes enabling low vision patients to distinguish readily between sections within the building, individually controlled lighting and temperature and piped in music.
                The center can accommodate up to 30 inpatients, both men and women.  It serves veterans from the western states.
                At the open house, representatives from the VA central office in Washington, D.C., the Palo Alto VA hospital and the American Foundation for the Blind will participate in a ceremony beginning at 2 p.m.  At 3 p.m. the doors will be open to the public.  The Staff and patients will be available to answer questions.
                The center provides a multidisciplinary, individualized treatment of the problems of adjusting to loss of sight.  Programs include providing the visually impaired veteran with alternative methods of communicating, developing sensory and organizational skills and self confidence, teaching the blind to travel safely and independently, providing recreational activities such as swimming and bowling, and assisting the veteran’s adjustment into his family and community.
                In addition, the center focuses on research and development of devices to alleviate the difficulties experienced by people adjusting to sight loss.

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