December 31, 2015

A Look Back on 2015

Photo: '2016' written in colored sparklers

WBRC would like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy 2016!

There were several big events for WBRC in 2015 including watching our new home [B-500] on the Palo Alto Campus take shape and near completion, hosting a PBS documentary film crew at WBRC for two days, congratulating our staff members on their many accomplishments including contributing content to a book published by AFB Press and earning their 35 year service award, and watching our Alumni thrive.  As we prepare for 2016, let’s take a look back at 2015 via links to some of our favorite WBRC Blog posts from the year:
Photo: Members of the WBRC Administration during their 2015 tour of B-500.

Photo: A WBRC Veteran is filmed while training on the NVT light panel.

Photo: WBRC RN Jeremy Adriano receives his 35 year service award.  Pictured left to right:
Linda Delarue, RN, Chief of Rehabilitation Nursing; Herminio J. Adriano, recipient, RN,
Assistant Nurse Manager at WBRC; Roschild Grullon, RN, Nurse Manager at WBRC;
and Elizabeth Freeman, Director of the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System.

Photo: White Cane Awareness Walk participants pose on the Palo Alto City Hall steps

Photo: WBRC Staff review the building plans during a B500 tour in 2015.

November 9, 2015

Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) Launches New Accessible Website

Photo: Screen shot of the BVA's new accessible website home page.

The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) has unveiled a newly redesigned, fully accessible, mobile-responsive website. Users can begin navigating the site at its Homepage,  

“The new site will offer previously unavailable resources, tools, and other sources of information,” said BVA Executive Director Al Avina. “It will also allow our constituents to efficiently update records, register for events, and gain access to the assistance they may be seeking for themselves or other Veterans who have experienced vision loss.”

BVA’s previous site was designed before the Internet was easily accessible via tablet and Smartphone, and was not optimized for mobile users. The new site is mobile-reactive, automatically displaying a user-friendly version of the site on mobile devices.  The site is also designed for compatibility with most screen-reader applications to ensure that it is as accessible as possible for blind and low-vision users. The new design features BVA’s recently updated logo, a sleeker layout, and a more convenient navigation process.

All of the content from the old website, which spans more than five years, has been carefully preserved by BVA staff to offer a complete historical perspective on BVA’s past and present service to blinded Veterans.  Building on that foundation, the new site will feature in the coming months several useful functions for both Association members and the public, including a login section for members only where they will be able to personally update their information. An additional section will feature adaptive technology with reviews and guides written by BVA members and staff. 

“The site will continue to be a work in progress,” said Avina. “In the meantime, BVA is proud of the improvements that will better allow the organization to communicate effectively on all platforms with our members and the public.”

October 30, 2015

WBRC Announces New Technology Program Coordinator

Photo: Scott Jaffray, WBRC Technology Program Coordinator

WBRC is proud to announce that Scott Jaffray has accepted the position of Technology Program Coordinator.  He started in this new position on October 12th, 2015.  Mr. Jaffray has been an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist at the WBRC since January of 2012 and is also cross-trained in CNVR, iProgram, and Computer Access Technology.  Mr. Jaffray completed an internship program at the WBRC in the O&M Department in 2011.  Mr. Jaffray has a Master’s Degree from California State University of Los Angles in O&M and completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from California State University of Stanislaus.  He is accredited by ACVREP as Certified O&M Specialist.  Congratulations Scott!

October 19, 2015

WBRC Congratulates O&M Instructor on Guide Dog Puppy Graduate

Photo: Guide Dog Puppy in Training 'Rookie' on his first day at the WBRC

The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center would like to congratulate Ms. Lindsay Hass, WBRC Orientation and Mobility Instructor, on the recent graduation of ‘Rookie’ from Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael.  Rookie first came to the WBRC with Ms. Hass as an 8 week old male 3/4 yellow Labrador 1/4 golden retriever.  He was a ‘Guide Dog Puppy In Training’ who was raised and trained by Ms. Hass and accompanied her to work and in the community for about 18 months to become acclimated to a variety of environments, people, and situations prior to returning to Guide Dogs for the Blind for evaluation and additional training to become a Guide Dog. 

Photo: Rookie on his graduation day from Guide Dogs for the Blind
After successfully completing 8 phases of Guide Dog Training, Rookie was paired with an individual with vision loss and their ‘Team’ graduated from Guide Dogs for the Blind on October 17th, 2015.  Rookie is the 6th Guide Dog puppy that Ms. Hass has raised for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Congratulations Lindsay and Rookie!

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

CLICK HERE to learn more about Guide Dog Training at Guide Dogs for the Blind

October 16, 2015

WBRC Completes 11th Annual White Cane Awareness Walk

Photo: White Cane Awareness Walk participants pose on the Palo Alto City Hall steps
Thank you to everyone who helped plan, implement, and who participated in the 11th Annual WBRC White Cane Awareness Walk in Palo Alto, CA on October 15, 2015. The walk was a huge success with over 60 participants from the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center, Lions Club, Vista Center, WBRC Alumni, and past WBRC O&M Interns. 
Photo: Walk participants cross Bryant Street in downtown Palo Alto, CA.

On October 6, 1964, a joint resolution of the Congress, HR 753, was signed into law authorizing the President of the United States to proclaim October 15 of each year as "White Cane Safety Day".  White Cane Safety Day is now celebrated all around the world.  Each year on October 15th, the President of the United States proclaims the day of White Cane Safety Day to “to recognize the contributions of Americans who are blind or have low vision”.

Photo: Walk participants parade down University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto, CA

White Cane Safety Day is annual opportunity to increase awareness about the white cane and a chance to educate the public how the white cane:

  • Signifies that the pedestrian is either blind or visually impaired 
  • Educates the public about “White Cane Laws” which gives the pedestrian the right of way and certain legal protections when traveling with the white cane  
  • Symbolizes independence, confidence, dignity and a powerful tool for the visually impaired traveler

President Clinton in his 2000 White Cane Day proclamation said, “The white cane is a simple tool…it reminds us that the only barriers against people with disabilities are discriminatory attitudes and practices that our society has too often placed in their way".