January 31, 2013

WBRC Launches 'iProgram'

Photo: An Apple iPad 4 and iPhone 4
The WBRC has launched the ‘iProgram’.  Although the iPad and iPhone have been taught previously as a specialty Computer Access Training (CATS) program, the ‘iProgram’ is a departure from the traditional CATS structure.  The length of the program has been changed from an average of 4 week admission to a 2 week admission to better meet the needs of our Veterans.  The new 'iProgram' is an intensive program similar to the basic program.  The Veteran receives one on one instruction for 6 periods a day with 3 different instructors.  Another new component of the program is the Technology Lab, which is taught an additional period during the day in a group setting.  It covers advanced skills outside the basic skills parameters.  Up to three participants are brought in at a time to work on either the iPad or the iPhone.  Many Veterans report enjoying the camaraderie and skill reinforcement experienced by working together outside of the schedule class periods. 
The iPad and iPhone both have built-in accessibility software to magnify or provide verbal output to allow access for the visually impaired or blind population.  The iPhone and iPad each act as a portable computer and offer many of the same functions users enjoy on their desktop or laptop computer.  Once the basic core competencies have been met for issuance, treatment is individualized for each Veteran based on need and skill level.  During the basic program, the Veteran will often master basic skills of the Phone (iPhone only), Contacts (address book), Calendar, Notes, Mail, Siri and Safari (Internet).  In the technology lab, the Veteran may master advanced skills using iCloud, iTunes, Camera and Photos.  An advanced iProgram is also available for Veterans who would like to return to continue to learn advance functions of the device.  If you are a veteran or active duty service member with vision loss interested in participating in the iProgram please contact your VIST to request a referral.
The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center (WBRC) is a 27-bed residential facility located at the Menlo Park Division of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Approximately two hundred veterans and active duty service members of all ages participate in the program each year. More than three quarters have usable vision for which specialized treatment is provided. Adjusting to and managing visual impairment is the major objective of the program. If you are in the area and are interested in a site visit, please call (650) 614-9952 to make arrangements.

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