December 31, 2014

A Look Back on 2014

Photo: '2015' written in colored sparklers
WBRC would like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy 2015.

There were several big events for WBRC in 2014 including soaring for our 2014 CARF survey, a staff member retiring after over 40 years of service, our 10th Annual White Cane Awareness Walk, and watching the progress of construction of B500 - our new home at Palo Alto. As we prepare for 2015, lets take a look back at 2014 via links to some of our favorite WBRC Blog posts from this year:


Photo: B500 Exterior in February 2014

Photo: B500 Exterior in December 2014
 
Photo: WBRC's new Guide Dog Puppy in Training 'Rookie'
Image: 'ASPIRE to Excellence' CARF Accredited Seal
Photo: Dr. Goodrich working with the NVT Light Panel

WBRC's 10th Annual White Cane Awareness Walk a Huge Success
Photo: Pete Chavarria (Right) is presented a certificate of appreciation from John Kingston, O&M Department Supervisor, for being the Grand Marshall of the 10th Annual White Cane Awareness Walk.
 
Photo: The WBRC Group at the ETC Campsite
 
The WBRC will be closed for business on Thursday January 1st, 2015 in observance of New Year's Day.

The RN Station may be reached by calling:
(650) 493-5000
then select 1, then 2, then enter 24623 -or- 24823

You may also leave a message at the WBRC Direct Line at:
(650) 614-9952

Have a healthy and happy 2015!

CLICK HERE to learn more about the WBRC

December 29, 2014

WBRC Welcomes New Computer Access Training Program Supervisor

WBRC is proud to announce that Glenda Buscarello has accepted the position of WBRC Computer Access Training Program Supervisor.  Mrs. Buscarello started in December of 2014.  Mrs. Buscarello is a graduate of San Francisco State University where she obtained degrees as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired and in Orientation and Mobility (O&M).  She is accredited by ACVREP as a Low Vision Therapist, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, and an O&M Specialist.  She is also a Veteran who retired from the United States Air Force Reserve in 2006 after 21 years of service.  She previously worked for the University of Colorado, Boulder as the Disability Access Coordinator and has also taught college courses covering a variety of computer equipment and software including JAWS, ZoomText, and iPad/iPhone.  Welcome to the WBRC Team Glenda!

December 19, 2014

Season's Greetings


Image: Front of card with a patriotically wrapped gift stating 'Season's Greetings'
As we celebrate our liberties, freedoms, and the many things we have to be thankful for this Holiday Season, we remember and support those who have protected them. The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center (WBRC) would like to thank all veterans and active duty service members this Holiday Season for your service. Have a happy and safe holiday.
The WBRC will be closed for business on Thursday and Friday December 25th & 26th, 2014 and on Thursday January 1st, 2015 in observance of the Holiday Season.
 
The WBRC RN Station may be reached by calling:
(650) 493-500
then select 1, then 2, then enter 24623 -or- 24823
You may also leave a message at the WBRC Direct Line at:
(650) 614-9952
 
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.

December 17, 2014

December Technology Tip: iOS 8 and Bluetooth Keyboard Use

Photo: An Apple Brand Bluetooth Keyboard

The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center's (WBRC) iProgram has been getting a lot of questions lately from iProgram Alumni and current students regarding the recent Apple Operating Software (iOS) update for iPhones and iPads.  WBRC has hesitated to encourage users who use an iPhone or iPad with VoiceOver to update if they use a Bluetooth Keyboard.  Why?  Because it appeared that the keyboard letter and number keys would not work with an iPhone or iPad with iOS 8 or later while using VoiceOver.... frustrating!

Well - after a bit of research we have discovered the solution to this problem.  The iPhone/iPad with iOS 8 or later user can use an Apple Bluetooth keyboard and VoiceOver at the same time by turning 'Quick Nav' OFF on their keyboard.

What is Quick Nav?  Most interaction with VoiceOver involves the use of keyboard shortcuts, and many of these shortcuts include the Control and Option keys. These keys are known as the VoiceOver (VO) keys.  Quick Nav is a new feature in iOS 8 that allows you to navigate without having to use the VO keys.  The problem is that with Quick Nav on - the letter and number keys don't work.

How do I turn off Quick Nav?  Simply press the left arrow key and the right arrow key on your keyboard at the same time to turn Quick Nav off or on.  The letter and number keys will work on the keyboard with Quick Nav off.  Turn Quick Nav back on to navigate without having to use the VO keys.

Should I update to iOS 8? Choosing to update your iPhone or iPad software is a purely personal choice.  While the differences between iOS 7 and iOS 8 are not drastic - there are differences.  It is always advised that you do your research in order to make an informed decision prior to updating your software.  WBRC iProgram Alum should feel free to contact the WBRC Technology Coordinator at 650-493-5000 x24158 with questions regarding software updates.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the WBRC

CLICK HERE to learn more about the WBRC Computer Access and iProgram

Article by: Summer Beasley-Hoffman

December 12, 2014

December Construction Update

Photo: The front of B500 as seen from B101-100's breezway

Construction crews of the new Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center (B-500) are nearing completion of the exterior of the building. The new center will overlap the original WBRC footprint on the Palo Alto VAPAHCS campus. This will be the VA's first and only Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center to be combined with a Blind Rehabilitation Center.

Photo: The front entry area of B500 as seen from ground level

At 174,000 square feet, this new facility is the largest consolidated rehabilitation center in the VA and will include 24 beds for the polytruama program, 32 beds for the blind rehabilitation program, and 12 beds for the polytruama transitional rehabilitation program. The center will also have an outpatient physical therapy/occupational therapy clinic, an outpatient physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic, and clinical programs for Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans.

Image: Rendering of B500 front entry area when completed

Construction is anticipated to complete in Summer of 2015 with the building becoming operational in Winter of 2015.

CLICK HERE to view additional construction pictures

CLICK HERE for construction updates

CLICK HERE to read the project's news release

November 17, 2014

November 20th is the Great American Smokeout

Graphic: Great American Smokeout with no smoking
logo and American Flag Background.
The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year (Nov. 20) by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet about 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes — a bit under 1 in every 5 adults. As of 2012, there were also 13.4 million cigar smokers in the US, and 2.3 million who smoke tobacco in pipes — other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.

Cigarette smoke is extremely toxic, containing as many as 4,000 active compounds, including tar, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals. Its effects on the lungs and heart have been well established by medical researchers and are well known.

Not as well known are the detrimental effects that smoking can have on your vision. Smoking has been directly linked to two of the leading causes of vision loss, cataracts and macular degeneration. In fact, researchers believe smoking also causes or contributes to a number of other eye health problems.

Research has found that smokers have double the risk of developing cataracts compared with non-smokers. This risk is triple for heavy smokers. In fact, doctors have discovered a specific relationship between cataracts and the amount that you smoke — the more you smoke, the more chance you have of developing cataracts.  Doctors believe smoking contributes to cataracts by altering the cells of the lens through oxidation. There is also evidence that smoking leads to the accumulation of heavy metals like cadmium in the lens.

Smoking also increases a person's risk of developing macular degeneration. Studies have found that smokers face a risk of developing macular degeneration that is two to four times greater than that of people who have never smoked. As with cataracts, doctors have found that the risk increases the more a person has smoked. Researchers have also found an increased risk of macular degeneration in people who don't smoke but are frequently exposed to environmental cigarette smoke.  Doctors believe that smoking promotes macular degeneration by interfering with blood flow to the retina. Smoking might also increase the deleterious effects of oxidation on the cells of the macula.

Studies also have linked cigarette smoking to eye problems such as:
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Dry eyes
  • Optic nerve damage
  • Lazy eye
  • Conjunctivitis

Vision Problems and Smoking: What You Can Do

There is hope for smokers who want to avoid smoking-related vision loss. Research has found that quitting smoking does improve their chances of avoiding eye disease. For example, studies show that people who quit smoking will have a 6.7 percent reduced risk of developing macular degeneration after one year. After five years, the risk drops by another 5 percent.  The same goes for cataracts.  Doctors say people who have quit smoking for 25 years have a 20 percent lower risk of cataracts when compared with current smokers.

Ready to quit smoking?
Make a Quit Plan. The VA has resources available to make sure you succeed. The first step is to S.T.A.R.T.
Set a quit date.
Tell your family and freinds.
Anticipate and plan for challenges.
Remove cigarettes from your home, car and work.
Talk to your doctor.
Your doctor can counsel you and prescribe medication to help you. Counseling and medication are tools that give you the best chance of quitting smoking for good.
Counseling will help you build smoke-free habits. Once you quit, it continues to help you avoid tobacco for good. Medication such as nicotine replacement therapy and other medications will ease the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Counseling and medication work together to help you cope with cravings and deal with triggers.
Counseling and medication have higher success rates compared to counseling alone. Together, the number of counseling sessions (up to 8) increases your success. 32.5% of people successfully quit using medication together with 8 or more counseling sessions compared to only 12.4% who quit without any help.
The VA can help you with your quit plan.
Counseling: Talk to your doctor. Attend a tobacco cessation group. Call 1-855-QUIT-VET.
Medications: Talk to your doctor about using the patch, gum, lozenge & other meds to help you quit.
Self Help: CLICK HERE to find other tips for quitting and VA resources
Support: Talk to your family and friends. Text the word VET to 47848 for tips and help quitting.
VA TeleQuit Smoking Cessation Program
TeleQuit is the VA’s smoking cessation program that is coordinated by telephone. Telephone-based care means no in-person clinic visits for patients. Since its launch in 2007, TeleQuit has managed the smoking cessation care of over 8,000 Veterans and a growing number of VA employees throughout Northern California and Western Nevada.
The TeleQuit Program offers education, counseling, and smoking cessation medication. Free, confidential, one-on-one telephone counseling is provided by the California Smokers' Helpline and Nevada Tobacco Users' Helpline. Veterans and VA employees receive brochures with great ideas about how to quit smoking.
How to contact the TeleQuit Program:
Veterans and VA employees can call us at our toll-free number: 1-650-493-5000, ext. 60557 (Palo Alto Division). Coordinators are available to take calls Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM. Veterans and VA employees may call us after 4:30 PM and leave a message on our voice mail.
What is the long-term abstinence rate with TeleQuit?
TeleQuit's 6-month abstinence rate is 25%. This outcome is comparable to quit rates in an excellent in-person smoking cessation clinic.
Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your health. You have the power to quit smoking and to stay smoke free, and the VA has resources available to help.

October 27, 2014

WBRC Group goes White Water Rafting on the American River

Written By: Ann Nguyen, WBRC Recreation Therapy Intern


Photo: The WBRC Group at the ETC Campsite

Water splashing upon the shore near the Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC) campsite, rapids swelling up at every rocky turn, people filled rafts navigating downstream, ice cold water splashing up from all sides of the raft, and the elated cries of excitement were among some of the powerful images lingering in the minds of eight veterans from the WBRC as they came back from a wondrous white water rafting trip.  On August 15, 2014 WBRC recreation therapists, Rachel Smith and Lindsay Conner, teamed up with ETC certified white water rafting volunteer guides, including David Patten—WBRC visual skills supervisor—and Simone Riente—WBRC social worker—, to provide a whole weekend of white water rafting and camping along the South Fork of the American River.


Photo: The WBRC Group enjoys a meal at the ETC Campsite
From the campsite, to the staff, to the food, all the Veterans were very satisfied with what ETC provided.  After spending the night resting under the stars, the group was oriented to the rafts and embarked on a 12 mile white water journey down the American River.  Before this experience many of the Veterans who went on the trip could not fathom how individuals with visual impairments could navigate the American River and all the rapids it had to offer. 


Photo: WBRC rafters on the America River
 
“Troublemaker” and “Fowler’s Rock” were among some of the exciting rapids that the Veterans battled through.  With adaptations made on each raft, each individual was able to enjoy the experience to the fullest.  Ingenious ETC staff took a simple lawn chair and duct tape to create secure seats on the raft itself; any wheelchair users definitely had the best seat.  There was a generous amount of staff support provided by ETC, as well, which all contributed to a trip that gave lasting impressions on all the Veterans who were able to attend.  Here were only a few of the comments made on the trip:

“It was the most fun I’ve had in the last 14 years.”

“The rafting trip itself was the most amazing thing I have ever done-sighted or visually impaired… It helped to boost my confidence, decrease my fears and to socialize with other attendees.”

This experience is one that I will remember the rest of my life. I don’t know how to put into words.”   

Photo: A rafter holds a paddle with the following inscription written on it:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving SAFELY in a PRETTY and WELL-PRESERVED body, but rather to skid in BROADSIDE in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘WOW! WHAT A RIDE!’” – Hunter S. Thompson.
 
This experience was made possible by a donation from a Veteran who wishes to not be named.  Nevertheless, his selfless act brought life changing joy to many of the Veterans who were able to experience white water rafting for the first time.  Each and everyone one of the Veterans expressed gratitude for the staff, ETC, and the grateful retired US Army Officer for providing an opportunity for this trip.  WBRC to anticipate. 

October 17, 2014

WBRC 10th Annual White Cane Awareness Walk a Huge Success

Photo: The 10th Annual White Cane Awareness March participants (click on the picture to enlarge)
 
October 15th, 2014 - The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center (WBRC) hosted their 10th Annual White Cane Awareness March on White Cane Awareness Day in Palo Alto, CA.  Participants included current and former WBRC students, WBRC staff members, Mr. Pete Chavarria - Grand Marshall of the March and WBRC Alum, Mrs. Nancy Shepherd - Palo Alto City Mayor, Volunteers from the Palo Alto Host Lions Club, Bookshare Representatives, Santa Clara Valley Blind Center Representatives, VISTA Center Representatives, as well as Guide Dogs for the Blind Puppy Raisers and Guide Dog Puppies in Training. 

Photo: WBRC staff member, Annalise Shaffer, mans the info booth

The group met in front of Palo Alto City hall with speeches from WBRC Administration, the Palo Alto City Mayor, and the Grand Marshal.  WBRC also set up and manned an information booth in front of City Hall with informational pamphlets on the White Cane Law, how to interact with pedestrians with vision loss, samples of long canes and support canes, blindfolds, and information about local services.  The approximately 1/2 mile march route included several blocks of University Ave, Palo Alto's busy downtown area which allowed participants to distribute information about the White Cane Law to many members of the community. 

Photo: Pete Chavarria (Right) is presented a certificate of appreciation from John Kingston, O&M Department Supervisor, for being the Grand Marshall of the 10th Annual White Cane Awareness Walk.
The group re-assembled upon returning to Palo Alto City Hall.  The White Cane Day proclamation was read by Mrs. Shepherd, Palo Alto City Mayor, and Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to the Mayor, Grand Marshall, and the Palo Alto Host Lions Club. 

This event, designed to celebrate the ability of persons with vision impairment to lead full and independent lives, included public education of the White Cane Law.  The White Cane Law states that pedestrians who use a white cane or dog guide have certain rights. Only persons who are legally blind are lawfully allowed to carry a white cane. Legal Blindness is defined as someone who has best corrected visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye; or a visual field limitation of 20 degrees or less. Some people with vision loss do not fall under the legal blindness definition but can still benefit from use of a long cane in a different color, such as yellow.

The California Vehicle Code 21963 states that a person carrying a predominantly white cane or using a dog guide shall have the right-of-way, that the driver of any vehicle approaching this person who fails to yield, or take all reasonable precautions to avoid injuring this pedestrian is guilty of a misdemeanor.  This is punishable by imprisonment for up to six months, a $500 to $1,000 fine, or both.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the WBRC

CLICK HERE to learn more about Bookshare

CLICK HERE to learn more about Guide Dogs for the Blind

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Guide Dogs for the Blind Puppy Raising Program

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center

CLICK HERE to learn more about the VISTA Center

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Palo Alto Host Lions Club
 

September 30, 2014

WBRC Welcomes New Nurse Manager

WBRC is proud to announce that Roschild Grullon has accepted the position of WBRC Nurse Manager.  Ms. Grullon started in September of 2014.  She is a registered nurse with a Master's Degree in Public Health Administration from New York University.  She previously worked at New York Presbyterian/Colombia University Medical Center and has practiced in cardiology, OB and behavioral health.  Welcome to the WBRC Team Roschild!

September 26, 2014

WBRC Research Psychologist Retiring after 40 Years

Photo: Dr. Goodrich working with the NVT Light Panel

WBRC would like to congradulate Dr. Greggory Goodrich on his upcoming retirement.  Dr. Goodrich has worked at the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center at the VA Palo Alto Health Care system for over 40 years.  Dr. Goodrich received his PhD in Experimental Psychology in 1974 from Washington State University. He has been an active member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired serving as its president, and past president. He also has served as a member of the research advisory committee of Lighthouse International and a member of the national program advisory committee of the American Foundation for the Blind.

His dedication and commitment to ensuring service delivery excellence by conducting studies which support clinical rehabilitation programs never wavered during his tenure. Dr. Goodrich’s numerous publications chronicle his interests in low vision, technology, and mobility, as well as outcome assessments.  Dr. Gregory Goodrich was the recipient of the 2009 Olin E. Teague Award, a national award that recognizes contributions in an area of utmost importance to VA’s mission: the rehabilitation and improvement in the quality of life of war-injured Veterans. He received the award in conjunction with Dr. Glenn Cockerham, for their ground-breaking efforts in the care of Veterans injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

In 2011 Dr. Goodrich received the 'Tiresias' award from the International Society for Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation (ISLRR). The award was presented in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during the 10th International Low Vision Conference. The award, the first time it was given, recognized Dr. Goodrich’s major role in the development of the field of rehabilitation and research on visual impairment.  The award is named after the mythical character Tiresias, who was blinded by Hera. To compensate him for his loss of vision, Zeus gave him the gift of prophecy. Tiresias is mentioned in the Odyssey, when Odysseus was sent to the underworld to consult him. All in all, an interesting bit of mythology is attributed to Dr. Goodrich.

Dr. Goodrich will be retiring the first week in October.  We at the WBRC wish him all the best in his well earned retirment!

September 25, 2014

UPDATE: Save the Date for WBRC's 10th Annual White Cane Awareness Walk!

Photo: The WBRC Mobility Department and Interns pose with white canes.

Please save the date for the
2014 White Cane Awareness Walk
Wednesday October 15, 2014
Downtown Palo Alto
Palo Alto City Hall
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA
 
October is White Cane Awareness Month. WBRC is celebrating White Cane Awareness by hosting a Walk in Palo Alto, CA on Wednesday October 15th, 2014. Participating agencies include WBRC, VAPAHCS, BVA, VISTA Center, Bookshare, and the Lions Club.

On October 6, 1964, a joint resolution of the Congress was signed into law authorizing the President of the United States to proclaim October 15 of each year as "White Cane Safety Day". Within hours of the passage, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson publicly recognized the importance of the white cane as a symbol of independence for individuals who are blind. Today there is a variant of the White Cane Law on the statute books of every state in the nation and White Cane Safety Day is nationally recognized with marches and celebrations.

Please feel free to come join us on October 15th and participate in the walk to spread awareness of the White Cane Law.

All are welcome --- white cane users, yellow cane users, sighted guides, power mobility users, 4WW users, dog guide users, blindfolded sighted folks {with cane skills or a human guide} ---on an approximate half mile walk around downtown Palo Alto.

Schedule

9:30 AM          Assemble at Palo Alto City Hall, Meet & Greet,
                       Informational Booths
10 AM             Walk from City Hall Palo Alto
10:30 AM        Re-assemble at Palo Alto City Hall, Mix &
                       Mingle, Informational Booths
11:15 AM        Photo & Proclamation at Palo Alto City Hall
Image: White Cane Awareness Walk Route (Click on Image to Enlarge)

2014 White Cane Awareness Walk Route:

1)      Start at Palo Alto City Hall

2)      Travel ‘NE’ on Hamilton towards Waverly Street

3)      Turn Left on Waverly Street

4)      Travel ‘NW’ on Waverly towards University Ave

5)      Turn Left on University Ave

6)      Travel ‘SW’ on University Ave to Emerson Street

a.      Participants that need a shorter route can turn left on Bryant Street to return to City Hall

7)      Turn Left on Emerson Street

8)      Travel to Hamilton Ave

9)      Turn Left on Hamilton Ave and return to City Hall

CLICK HERE to read about WBRC's 2013 White Cane Awareness Walk

CLICK HERE to learn more about the White Cane Law

Please e-mail Elise.Vaughan@va.gov for more information.


September 3, 2014

Save the Date for WBRC's 10th Annual White Cane Awareness Walk!

Photo: The WBRC Mobility Department and Interns pose with white canes.

Please save the date for the
2014 White Cane Awareness Walk
Wednesday October 15, 2014
 
Downtown Palo Alto
Palo Alto City Hall
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA
 
October is White Cane Awareness Month. WBRC is celebrating White Cane Awareness by hosting a Walk in Palo Alto, CA on Wednesday October 15th, 2014. Participating agencies include WBRC, BVA, VISTA Center, Bookshare, and the Lions Club. 

On October 6, 1964, a joint resolution of the Congress was signed into law authorizing the President of the United States to proclaim October 15 of each year as "White Cane Safety Day". Within hours of the passage, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson publicly recognized the importance of the white cane as a symbol of independence for individuals who are blind. Today there is a variant of the White Cane Law on the statute books of every state in the nation and White Cane Safety Day is nationally recognized with marches and celebrations.

Please feel free to come join us on October 15th and participate in the walk to spread awareness of the White Cane Law.

All are welcome --- white cane users, yellow cane users, sighted guides, power mobility users, 4WW users, dog guide users, blindfolded sighted folks {with cane skills or a human guide} ---on an approximate half mile walk around downtown Palo Alto.

Please check back here or e-mail summer.beasley@va.gov for further event details.

CLICK HERE to read about WBRC's 2013 White Cane Awareness Walk

CLICK HERE to learn more about the White Cane Law

 

 

August 29, 2014

WBRC Welcomes New Visual Skills Instructor

WBRC is proud to announce that Charity Son has accepted the position of WBRC Visual Skills Instructor.  Ms. Son started in August of 2014.  Ms. Son graduated from the Northern Illinois University Special Education Master's program in 2013.  She interned at the VA Central Blind Rehabilitation Center from 2012 to 2013 and is accredited by ACVREP as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist.  She previously worked at the Alaska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired providing low vision, daily living skills, and orientation and mobility instruction as a Rural Outreach Coordinator.  Welcome to the WBRC Team Charity!

August 19, 2014

WBRC Visited by Hadley School for the Blind


Image: Hadley School for the Blind Logo

WBRC was visited by Chuck Young, President of the Hadley School for the Blind, and Colleen Wunderlich, Director of the Hadley School’s Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship on Friday, August 15th.  Mr. Young and Mrs. Wunderlich participated in a tour of the WBRC center and reported that they were very impressed with our program.  They also provided an in-service to WBRC students and staff about the Hadley School for the Blind and it’s programs.

The mission of The Hadley School for the Blind is to promote independent living through lifelong, distance education programs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, their families and blindness service providers.  Founded in 1920 by William Hadley and Dr. E.V.L. Brown, Hadley offers courses free of charge to its blind and visually impaired students and their families. Today, Hadley is the largest provider of distance education for people who are blind or visually impaired around the world, serving more than 10,000 students annually in all 50 states and 100 countries.

CLICK HERE to visit the Hadley School for the Blind Website

Two programs of interest that Mr. Young and Mrs. Wunderlich presented to the WBRC students and staff included the Blinded Veteran’s Initiative Program and the Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship Business Program.

The Blinded Veteran’s Initiative Program was launched on Veterans Day 2011.  The goal of this new initiative is to educate and inspire blind or visually impaired Veterans to pursue their personal and professional goals and help support their families.  Visually impaired Veterans and their family members can enroll in the school’s distance education courses at no cost.  The curriculum has been updated with new Veteran-specific resources such as a ‘Veteran’s Benefits’ module.  The initiative complements Hadley’s Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship (FCE) which is designed to address the 70 to 80 percent unemployment rate among individuals who are blind or visually impaired.  The FCE provides individuals with sight loss the knowledge, resources, and networking opportunities to advance in their careers or start their own business.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Blinded Veteran’s Initiative Program

Mr. Young also reported that the Hadley School has begun a Low Vision Focus program which includes free audio programs for Veterans with low vision.  These recordings include modules such as ‘Basic Kitchen Skills’, ‘Managing Medications’, ‘Eating Without Embarrassment’, and ‘Adaptive Devices & Techniques’.   Once registered, the audio recordings are mailed to participants via CD at no charge.

August 11, 2014

Blind Rehab Services Soar During 2014 CARF Accreditation Survey

Image: 'ASPIRE to Excellence' CARF Accredited Seal

The VAPAHCS Blind Rehabilitation Service is proud to announce that we participated in a two and a half day survey by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) August 6th through August 8th,  2014. 
What is CARF?
The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) provides accreditation services worldwide at the request of health and human service providers.  Through accreditation, CARF assists service providers in improving the quality of their services, demonstrating value, and meeting internationally recognized organizational and program standards.
The accreditation process applies sets of standards to service areas and business practices during an on-site survey. Accreditation is an ongoing process, signaling to the public that a service provider is committed to continuously improving services, encouraging feedback, and serving the community. Accreditation also demonstrates a provider's commitment to enhance its performance and distinguish its service delivery.
The CARF representatives completed a thorough survey of our Blind Rehabilitation Services including a facility inspection, interviews with students and staff, examination of our scope of services, standards, memorandum, and policies, review of inpatient and outpatient programming, outcome measures, quality of services provided, etc.
The exit briefing for the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center CARF Survey was held Friday afternoon.  The CARF Team  Leader and Administrative Surveyor Leslie Levin and the Program Surveyor Eileen Slutsky began the session congratulating the staff…
There were NO recommendations!  The WBRC is 100 % compliant with all standards.
The exit briefing consisted of outlining the many strengths they found in the program.  Of note, the surveyors commented on:
  • The high degree of satisfaction of the Veterans interviewed with the program.  Veterans and their families described their experience as “magical, transformational, eye-opening”.  The exemplary staff.  They noted the diversity of experience and the dedication of the staff to the mission and Veteran-Family centered care.  The commented on the dignity and the respect shown to the Veterans.  They noted an exemplary culture of teamwork and how much the staff clearly are dedicated to their work and the mission of the WBRC.
  • Access to donated funds to provide travel for caregivers attending the Family Training Program.
  • Concentrated efforts to provide outreach (WBRC Blog, Newsletter, Human Guide Training to VAPAHCS Services).
  • Rehabilitation Nursing Services: Ability to provide admissions to patients with high acuity of care.
  • The cutting edge innovations they encountered in every program including assistive technologies, the CNVR Program, the iProgram and the leadership in research.
  • The continuous improvement culture.
  • Evidenced based best practices.
  • The clean and inviting environment of care.
  •  Recreation Therapy community reintegration.
  •  Increased access to care.
  • The quality of the leadership.
Congratulations to the  entire team for an exemplary survey!