September 21, 2017

Hello Everyone-

The WBRC will no longer be posting to this blog or the WBRC Facebook page. Please check out the VA Palo Alto Facebook page at: to hear about the latest and greatest happenings at the WBRC.

April 28, 2017

WBRC Participates in TBI Forum

The WBRC recently participated in the 7th Annual Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Research Forum: Detection and Treatment of Sensory Deficits.  The forum was held on March 31, 2017 at the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System (VAPAHCS) main campus.  The event was sponsored by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), VAPAHCS Polytrauma System of Care and the WBRC. 

Katie Taylor, WBRC CNVR Coordinator, is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist and presented on “Dual Sensory Loss: A Case Study.”  It focused on deaf-blindness, its challenges and options available to Veteran patients that fall into this category. 

Thanks to the support and collaborative partnership between the WBRC and its colleagues who made the TBI Research Forum possible, the blind/visually impaired Veterans we serve will have access to the best resources and ground breaking information to enhance their quality of treatment.

April 19, 2017

WBRC Participates in Art of Aging Gracefully Outreach Event

On Thursday April 6, 2017 the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center staff supported the tenth annual The Art of Aging Gracefully Resource Fair at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. This was the second year in a row that the WBRC participated in this event on California St in the Laurel Heights area of SF.  The day was packed with speakers, presentations and activities open to the public. Over thirty organizations participated as well as twenty-four businesses.  Included in this event was insights and opportunities to support active, creative aging. 

The WBRC staff met with many residents from the bay area and provided resources and information about Blind Rehabilitation Services within the VA Healthcare System. There were great opportunities to network with the organizations and businesses at the event.  These organizations and businesses were provided with brochures about the WBRC programs as well as information around how to approach those with a visual impairment.

If you are interested in listening to some of the key note speakers at this event please check out the link below

April 10, 2017

BVA Initiative Seeks Increased Veteran Communication, Public Awareness

The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) has launched as part of a national initiative to increase awareness among veterans and the general public about the organization itself and to empower and instill hope in blinded veterans during their personal quests to meet the challenges of vision loss.

The content of the blog emphasizes the services and benefits available to veterans through federal and local entities, communicated through personal success stories about BVA members and their families, information about current and pending legislation, and calendar items of upcoming BVA events.

A highlight of the new site is a previously untapped opportunity to produce podcasts, share BVA’s existing public relations efforts more effectively with its members, and utilize other digital communication methods in disseminating such news.  

Throughout BVA’s 72-year-history, the ability to communicate with the blinded veteran community was at first limited to written communication and limited audio through phonographic records and audiocassettes sometime later. 

The Internet has dramatically increased the number of accessible and inexpensive methods for individuals to interact and share information. Having already embraced social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, BVA formed an internal public relations committee in August 2016 in an effort to expand communication efforts through Podcasts and streaming Internet radio channels. 

The launch of is among the first in a series of actions that have become part of the initiative. To reach the new site, go directly to or link to it via

April 3, 2017

WBRC Introduces Moving Forward Class

Moving Forward Class: Problem Solving Skills

As part of the WBRC Matter of Balance Program, a fall prevention program,  Psychologist, Dr. Laura Peters, facilitates a class called “Moving Forward.”  The Moving Forward Class was developed nationally by VA to increase Veterans’ abilities to cope with stressful life problems, such as vision loss.  This is done by teaching better ways of dealing with harmful emotions, supporting a sense of hope that problems can be solved, and teaching ways of dealing with stressful problems in a more organized way.  WBRC Veterans have enjoyed the class and have found it worthwhile.  Not only have they learned practical skills, but also developed increased confidence when addressing problems.

Dr. Peters is a now a National Consultant for the Moving Forward Program.  She will mentor six other VA Mental Health Providers, helping them to implement the Moving Forward Program with a variety of Veterans across the country. 

March 27, 2017

CNVR Program Continues to Grow

The WBRC is known to actively develop and  provide treatment for all areas of vision impairment.   This is especially true for its Comprehensive Neurological Vision Rehabilitation (CNVR) program which was established in 2007.  Going into it’s 10th year of serving Veterans with visual impairments due to brain injury, stroke, motor vehicle accidents, falls, gunshot wounds or any other incident that has affected their vision neurologically, the WBRC has been vigilant to address their treatment needs. The CNVR treatment team provides one-on-one therapy as indicated.  This may include: Optometry evaluation and treatment, Neuropsychological testing and therapy, Speech and Language therapy, neurological vision rehabilitation, Recreation Therapy, treatment in the areas of activities of daily living , Orientation and Mobility, Manual Skills, Technology training as well as a Family Training Program. If interested in the program, please contact the VIST (Vision Impairment Service Team Coordinator) at your local VA for more information or to request a tour of our facility.

For more information, you may also contact Katie Taylor (CNVR coordinator at the WBRC) at 650-493-5000 x 24646


March 22, 2017

Alumnus Poem's

WBRC recently received two poems written by Alumnus Vincent Castro that he read during previous graduation ceremonies at the WBRC. Vince has graciously agreed to share them here on the WBRC Blog. Thanks Vince!

Don’t see me as I am.
But see me for who I am.
You see the world one way and I see it in another.
But yet it’s the same world.
You wake up to the sunrise and see just the light bursting through your window, I wakeup and feel the pouring warmth as it gently covers my soul.
Don’t feel sad for me.  I see more then you think.
When you see a tree in the park you see just a tree,
I see a tree and hear the life that it cradles in its arms and the sweet fragrant as it whispers and gently brushes over me.
So don’t feel sad for me, I see more then you think.
Yes we may not see what you see, we just see it in a another way.   So don’t feel sad for us, we are just Like you.  You see!     

My Second chance  
Is this true? In this world they say that there is no second chance.
Are we alone in this world, or have we been forgotten?
Do we even exist?  Or does anyone care? 
Has the world turned its back on us?
Are we alone and left in the dark?
And some carrying the pain that no one knows,
And how deep it is cutting into their soul.
What have we done to deserve this?
And then she came into are lives.
With her arms open welcoming us into her home.
She starts to heal the pain that we carry.
 As she listens to are needs.  And gives us a second chance.
I myself am so grateful for you giving me back my life again.
Yes, I am talking about all of you at the WBRC.  I thank you from my heart, for my second chance, and for all my brothers and sisters that you have given back their lives.  Thank you.  

March 13, 2017

WBRC 2016 Annual Review Now Available

Image: Cover picture of the WBRC Annual Review 2016
The 2016 WBRC Review has just been published and is available online.  The 'WBRC Review' is a Fiscal Year (FY) review of the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center (WBRC) for stakeholders including former and current students, prospective students, family and caregivers, VA staff and volunteers, and anyone interested in learning about low vision and blind rehabilitation services available to Veterans and Active Duty Service Members through the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.  The FY 16 edition includes information about the WBRC including outcome measures and demographics as well as articles about diabetes, technology security and safety, sonar electronic travel aids, Enchanted Hills Camp, Para Cord therapy, the OrCam MyEye, WBRC's new faces, and how to stay up-to-date with WBRC news.  The WBRC Review will also be printed and mailed to WBRC students who attended the program during FY 16 as well as to prospective and scheduled students.  It will also be used for WBRC outreach and is available to all stake holders online on the WBRC Website and WBRC Blog.

If you are an Alumni who did not attend the WBRC from October 1, 2015 to present -OR- another stakeholder and would like a print copy mailed to you, please send an e-mail with your mailing address to

March 7, 2017

How Reachers Can Help With Fall Prevention

Image: Pik Stick Reacher
How many times have you been unable to reach a can, a bottle, or any object because it was too high to reach?  Instead of grabbing a stool or chair to stand on, the Pik Stick can easily assist you on your mission. WBRC Nursing issues and trains on the Pik Stick Reacher to those Veterans that need a Reacher for fall prevention.  The Pik Stick Reacher  is a simple device allowing anyone to reach items on the ground or above height level.  With its ergonomic grip, strong aluminum shaft, and adjustable rotating claw this Reacher’s design is an award winning tool in fall prevention.

Fall prevention topics/devices like the Reacher are discussed in the WBRC’s Matter of Balance Program (MOB) which is currently offered on a quarterly basis. Please contact a VIST coordinator in your area to find out more information about the MOB program.

February 28, 2017

WBRC Outreach at San Francisco VA Hospital

Image: WBRC Outreach table with Craig and Daniel
On Friday, February 24, 2017, staff from the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center (WBRC) took part in a community resource fair presented by the Visual Impairment Services Team at the San Francisco VA Healthcare System. Staff, including Blind Rehabilitation Specialist Daniel Penrod and VIST Coordinator Craig Eckhardt spoke with fair participants about the various programs offered at the WBRC as well as other vision rehabilitation services available in the VA. In addition, participants were shown various adapted devices that are used at the center, including magnifiers, long white canes, and large print medicine organizers, and others, to assist visually impaired Veterans with safely and independently perform various tasks of daily living. Many participants of the fair were former students of the WBRC, who continuously praised the work of the WBRC and the service its staff provides to blind and visually impaired Veterans.

January 25, 2017

Apps for Veterans Featured in VA App Store

Attention smart phone and tablet users!
Mobile Applications created specifically for Veterans and Health Care professionals are featured on the VA App store at the following link:


Please see the related blog post from VAntage Point: Official Blog of the US Department of Veterans Affairs:

January 18, 2017

WBRC Gets Enchanted

A group of WBRC Veterans had the pleasure of attending the Enchanted Hills Retreat and Camp this past November.   This was the first time the WBRC attended this destination located in Napa, CA.  This visit was specifically designed for our blind and visually impaired Veterans in the Bay area.  It offered them an opportunity to exchange resources, form a comradery with each other and enjoy several recreational activities.   Activities included but weren’t limited to archery, swimming, campfires, learning about the outdoors, and partaking in delicious meals.  WBRC Veterans attended a presentation by UC Berkeley archaeological anthropology students and a session on Bird Watching as well.  It was a delightful trip for both WBRC Veterans and Staff.

January 12, 2017

WBRC and Outpatient Services Celebrate Winter Holiday Season

On Wednesday, December 14, 2016, the WBRC Veterans and Staff spent a day celebrating the winter holiday season. The day began with a variety of craft tables in the dining room, along with a tree to decorate. Veterans and staff alike took part in these activities, while hot cocoa and cider were served. A catered lunch was provided, followed by the WBRC tradition of singing the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” A group of carolers continued spreading cheer around the campus with ukuleles, guitars, and of course, jingle bells. The day concluded with dessert and a piano recital.
On the following day, the Visual Impairment Service Team hosted their annual holiday party at the WBRC. Attendees included local Veterans who are blind and visually impaired from the community, many of whom were former students at the center.
The WBRC Winter Celebration and VIST Holiday Party were successful and fun for Veterans and staff.
Veterans and staff create holiday crafts

January 4, 2017

A look back on 2016

Photo: '2017' written in colored sparklers
WBRC would like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy 2017.

There were several big events for WBRC in 2016 including the success of the Matter of Balance Program, the WBRC's participation at outreach events, the 12th Annual White Cane Awareness Walk, two staff for being peer reviewers on an APH publication, and the progression of B500 Construction.  As we prepare for 2017, lets take a look back at 2016 via links to some of our favorite WBRC Blog posts as well as the WBRC demographics and outcome measurements for 2016:

White Cane Awareness Walk participants 2016 
WBRC Completes 12th Annual White Cane Awareness Walk

Image: Matter of Balance Logo

WBRC Outreach: San Francisco VA VIST Team Meeting

Photo: Stock photograph of Zucchini displayed in a burlap bag
WBRC Students Attend Healthy Teaching Kitchen Demo

Photo: B-500 as seen from front walkway area.
August Construction Update

Image: APH Information about a new web based publication
for Orientation and Mobility Specialists
WBRC Staff Peer Review APH Publication

Please click on the below link for WBRC Demographics and Outcome Measurements for 2016: