March 30, 2012

WBRC Staff First Clinician in the U.S. Qualified as an 'NVT Trainer'

Photo: Niki Sandlan, Service Chief for Blind Rehabilitation Services, and John Kingston, CNVR Supervisor, standing in front of the NVT Light Panel with Mr. Kingston's framed certification as an 'NVT Trainer'.  This is the first NVT Trainer certification obtained by a clinician in the United States.  Photograph by Brian Higgins.

John Kingston, the supervisor of the Comprehensive Neurological Vision Rehabilitation (CNVR) Department at the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center has become the first person in the United States to have obtained certification as an NVT Trainer.  This certification will allow Mr. Kingston to train other clinicians at the Department of Veterans Affairs in the use of the NVT system for veteran treatment. 

An excerpt from the letter that accompanied Mr. Kingston's certification follows below:

'On behalf of NVT Systems, Gayle Clarke and Allison Hayes would like to congratulate John on becoming the first clinician in the US to qualify as an “NVT Trainer”… John’s enthusiasm and professionalism is a credit to him and staff trained under his guidance will receive an excellent understanding of the concepts behind the program.  We look forward to supporting John in the future training programs and are confident that his expertise will enable more veterans with neurological vision deficits to maximize the use of their remaining vision, to become as safe and independent as possible.'

What is the NVT system?

Neuro Vision Technology ("NVT") is based upon compensatory scanning training in conjunction with rigorous, standardised assessment of the nature and extent of the Neurological Vision Impairment. 

Veterans with neurological vision loss are assessed and then trained to become familiar with the extent of their field loss and other neuro-visual problems, and to compensate by employing learned scanning strategies to ensure that their remaining visual field is utilized to its best extent. The best scanning strategies in each case depend not only on the origin of the field loss but also on other cognitive and behavioural aspects such as visual neglect and issues with visual processing speed.  This is completed with assessment and training using the NVT Scanning Device.

Photo: The NVT Scanning Device being used for assessment and training for neurological vision loss

What is the NVT Scanning Device?

The NVT Scanning devices consists of coloured lights (LEDs) displayed on a horizontal panel placed at eye level approximately one foot from the patient. The panel of lights is placed centrally and extends to the right and left of the veteran, through the peripheral (or side) vision. In the presence of field loss and other neurological vision deficits the veteran is required to use both head movement and eye movement towards the affected visual field in order to detect the light stimulus.

The device documents the presence of:
  • Neurological vision impairments, such as a homonymous hemianopia, quadrantanopia, relative field loss etc
  • Visual spatial neglect or inattention
  • Speed of visual processing
  • Visual memory
  • Visual spatial deficits

How do you use the device to train veterans?

The results of the functional evaluation then form the basis of a vision training program to improve the veteran's awareness and understanding of the nature of their vision impairment. The NVT Scanning Device is used to teach a pattern of systematic visual search strategies to maximize efficient use of remaining vision. These training exercises use patterns of lights that reinforce an efficient and functional speed of scanning to allow for accurate detection of all stimuli. The aim is to teach the compensatory scanning skill until it becomes an automatic response.  The NVT therapy program then transfers visual scanning strategies established using the NVT Scanning Device into all aspects of activities of daily living and mobility.

CLICK HERE to learn more about WBRC's CNVR Program

CLICK HERE to learn more about the NVT System

CLICK HERE to learn more about the NVT Scanning Device

March 23, 2012

CA State Library Launches Discriptive Movie Program

Photograph: Movie Reel
The California State Library has recently launched a descriptive movie program for the patrons of the Braille and Talking Book Library.  The Library offers both DVD and VHS collections of descriptive videos that patrons may borrow for a two-week checkout. Descriptive videos have a second audio track with a narrator's voice describing the action on the screen during breaks in the dialog and sound effects. Patrons must use their own standard VCR or DVD player; the library does not loan this equipment.
1. Borrowers must be registered and active patrons in good standing with the Braille and Talking Book Library.
2. All borrowers must complete a Descriptive Video Borrower Registration Form
3. Patrons may borrow one descriptive video title in each medium at a time. Patrons may not check out another descriptive video title until the currently checked out title is returned to the library.
4. The loan period is 14 days. There will be no renewals.
5. Videos may be requested in the same way you request books: in person, by telephone, by email or through the online Braille and Talking Book Library Catalog. There is no limit to the number of requests patrons may place on file for future loan. The first available descriptive video on a borrower's request list will be sent automatically each time a title is returned.
Ordering Descriptive Videos

BTBL Patrons may order videos by providing a specific DV number or title.  Patrons may build a request list of specific descriptive video titles to ensure a continuous supply of videos. When a video is returned and checked in, the next available video on the request list is sent. If there are no video titles on a patron’s request list, nothing will be sent until the library is contacted with a request.

There is no limit to the number of requests you may place on file for future loan. The first available descriptive video on your request list will be sent automatically each time a title is returned.

Order descriptive videos in any of the following ways:

Online: Patrons may order Descriptive Videos and build individual request lists through our online Braille and Talking Book Library Catalog at  You will need a User ID and Password to add movies from the online catalog to your request list. If you do not have a User ID and Password yet, please call and obtain them from your reader advisor or a librarian.

Email:  Email your descriptive video requests to:

Telephone: (800) 952-5666 (toll free in CA) or (916) 654-0640
Follow the telephone menu prompts and make a request with your reader advisor directly or leave a voice mail.

Fax: Fax your requests to: (916) 654-1119

U.S. Mail:
Braille and Talking Book Library
P.O. Box 942837
Sacramento, CA 94237-0001

At the Library:
Make requests in person during open library hours, 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday except for State holidays.
Street Address:
California State Library, 1st floor
Braille and Talking Book Library
900 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

March 7, 2012


Written By: Laura Koehler, WBRC Orientation and Mobility Instructor

Photo: WBRC Alumnus John Martyn
John Martyn, a former student of the WBRC, has taken his computer training to the next level.  His goal is to be an advocate working with leading software companies to help them redesign their software products to make them accessible for the JAWS user. 

So…what is a JAWS accessibility/scripting solution?  JAWS (Job Access With Speech) is a computer screen reader  program in Microsoft Windows that allows blind and visually impaired users to read the screen either with a text-to speech output or by a Refreshable Braille Display.  Most companies as well as the non-blind community are very unaware of this technology, how it works and most importantly that their products are not accessible to the JAWS user.  Scripting solutions (program redesigns) are required to make them accessible. 

Mr. Martyn has devoted a great deal of his time creating these JAWS scripting solutions, however, his goal is to continue to work with leading software companies to encourage them to redesign their products.  His website,, focuses on this mission and is showing leading software companies that it is profitable and equitable to provide accessibility.  Solutions of interest to the blind community are:

1. greatly enhances capabilities for iTunes as well as makes it easy to manage your music library and purchase tracks for your iPod or iPhone.

2. opens up the world of online music and allows you full access to the popular music service Rhapsody.

3. Mr. Martyn also designed a site for the NFB that promotes the learning and reading of Braille.  The site should be up and running in March and can be accessed from

Mr. Martyn was also recently a presenter at the CSUN Conference, demonstrating how his scripting solutions work for QuickBooks accounting software.  Congratulations, John, on your efforts towards making computer technology accessible for the blind!   

CLICK HERE to visit John's Website

March 1, 2012

March 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. Meetings 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 March 15th from 11 am to 12 pm at the address below:
VAPAHCS Palo Alto Hospital
Building 100, 3rd Floor, Room B3-136
3801 Miranda Ave
Palo Alto, CA 93401

The next Stockton VIST group meeting will be held on Thursday March 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