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Vista Center will be closed Monday, February 18, 2019

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Vista Center Access Technology Specialist teaching a client on the use  her iPhone

10 Gift Ideas or Experiences for Father’s Day

Man and Woman riding a tandem bike in the countrysideExplore the Outdoors
Go for a hike or take a canoe ride. Rent, borrow, or find a tandem bike and take an excursion, then stop for lunch or bring a picnic.

Gift him a subscription to a favorite online publication or an audio book for a state or country he’d like to visit.

Vista Center Access Technology Specialist Son Kim listening to a client explain an issue with a small tech device.Tech Help
Sit down and run him through some of the latest apps out there. Does he want help learning how to use technology to help with the various smartphone and assistive devices sign him up for Vista Center Access Technology training.


Live Music
Get tickets at a local venue for his favorite kind of music. Get ready to groove!

A Little Bit of Competition
Bowling pins being knocked over by a red bowling ball.Head out for a bowling alley and see who racks up the most points. Many alleys offer portable guide rails that are useful for some individuals who are blind and visually impaired people in order to stay parallel with the lanes.

Body Basic
Find a nice spa and order him a gift card for a massage. He’ll feel like a new man!

Wooden tray of cheeses with little signs stuck on to them brie, gouda, Edam, Cheddar.Foodie
Make him his favorite meal or treat him to a special dinner at a restaurant. Hold a taste test night and try some new items (i.e. flights of wine, chocolate, beer, cheese, nuts etc.)


Hands using a handheld video magnifier to read a magazine recipe.Practical Gifts
If he is finding difficulty reading small text, think about a nice LED or video magnifier at Vista Center’s stores in Palo Alto or Santa Cruz. Could he use a new folding cane? Vista Center has you covered with many products and solutions to help individuals adapt to life with vision loss.

Crush the To Do List
Help him work down the handyman chores he’s been meaning to complete. He’ll be so happy things are getting done!

Honor Him
And, for the dad who has everything? Donate to Vista Center in his name. He will receive a note from Vista Center telling him about your thoughtful and generous gift.

Delve Into This Book
Let’s Talk About It!

Books can transport us to new ideas, places, and feelings. They open our minds with extraordinary and different perspectives and give loads of entertainment. Books instruct about our world and create empathy, fear, laughter, and closure. When we share our observations, thoughts and opinions with others we build relationships, learn and feel heard.

Seven book club members pose during 10th anniversary meeting. Book clubs bring books and people together and Vista Center hosts two engaging monthly clubs in Palo Alto and Santa Cruz. These active programs have been invaluable for members to converse, share ideas and common interests and to get out.

The Palo Alto club just celebrated its 10th anniversary yesterday. This group of currently 18 clients and a couple of caregivers was formed in May 2008 by Vista Center Program Assistant Frank Welte. He wanted to form a group for clients who loved books and wanted to discuss them.

In 2009, when Welte left to take a position with the Council for the Blind in Sacramento he asked Schwartz to host the events. “Since there were only four of us meeting at the time including Florence La Rivera and Betsy Wallace, it was easy to agree to be the facilitator.  I have been at it ever since,” says Schwartz.

Schwartz shares, “I loved the idea of talking about books I’ve read with people who have thoughts similar or different than mine. Our first book for discussion, my all-time favorite detective story, was The Maltese Falcon.  In the following two months we dissected Agatha Raisin and The Quiche of Death and The Kite Runner.”

Schwartz says over the years, “I’ve missed only two meetings; once for surgery and once when my wife was in the hospital.”

American Heiress book. One of the books read by the Palo Alto club.In the first few years the club focused on detective and mystery novels but has gradually expanded to every genre including adventure, history, humor and “even a romance novel.” All it takes for a book to make it on their reading list is a member to be passionate about it.

“For many of us, the loss of vision takes away our ability to visually read books, but we can still listen to the audio books,” says Schwartz. “The club has seen large growth in numbers as a direct result of the instructors in Vista Center’s Choices and Changes workshops emphasizing the social aspects of the club.”

Get an Earful, Santa Cruz's book club started in April 2017.  There are lots of vibrant discussions. They read both fiction and non-fiction like The Alice Network by Kate Quinn and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.

Vista Center Volunteer Coordinator, Patrice Maginnis says, “The reason we named our book club “Get an Earful” is because we listen to a member-chosen podcast every month in addition to our book choice. We welcome braille and large print readers as well, of course. We ensure that all book choices are on the BARD system and all podcasts are downloadable to Victor Reader Stream. Some members listen with their phones.”

Tiffany Chinn, a Vista Center client says, “Book club adds spice to my life and makes the pathways to deeper friendships so much easier!”

Vista Center is thankful for the incredible facilitators and their devotion to making these clubs happen each month.

Both clubs are open to new members. 

Palo Alto meets on the fourth Thursday of every month 1:30-3pm, except for November (they meet on the third Thursday because of Thanksgiving) and December they take the month off.  For more information, please contact Ron Schwartz.

Santa Cruz meets the second Monday of each month 10:30 - 11:45. For more information, please contact Patrice Maginnis.

10 Ways to Crush Mother’s Day Gift Giving This Year

We love Mom and she deserves pampering! At Vista Center, we assist clients in participating and enjoying themselves in a sighted world. Here are 10 ideas that we appreciate to help stimulate all of mom’s senses besides eyesight.

Someone relaxing in bubble bath

1. Luxury lotion or bubble bath. Moms garden, cook, wash dishes, clean, do laundry, repair, care for the family pet, play an instrument, lift weights, lift children, paint, craft, knit, tie kid shoelaces and their hands don’t always forgive them for it. Give her the gift of smooth digits, natural ingredients and incredible smelling Honeysuckle
or Spanish Lime lotion from Barr-Co.   And, so she can have a ”Calgon, take me away,” moment treat her to a bath bomb too.*
Pacifica Roll-on Perfume
2. Olfactory delights. If your mom likes to dab on a little sweetness before heading out the door, by selecting Pacifica’s slim roll-on perfumes, you’re sure to please! Micro-batched from their factory in Portland these vegan, cruelty-free scents come in fragrances like Persian Rose and Malibu Lemon Blossom.

Gift basket full of gnocchi, sauces, juice, dips etc.
3. Yumminess. Surprise mom with a home cooked meal filled with her favorites from appetizer to dessert. Or, grab a basket at Cost Plus and fill it up with imported goodies. A gift certificate for a favorite restaurant goes over big. If she loves to cook, head to a Vista Center Store  in Palo Alto or Santa Cruz to find things like: a talking digital kitchen timer that counts up or down, large print timers, high contrast cutting boards, “Bump dots”, used to mark keys on an oven, stovetop or microwave, audible liquid level indicator (no more burnt fingers), big print/braille measuring cups/spoons and more.

4. Tech Help. Give her your undivided attention and get her tech (apps, social media, and her computer) up to date. If she is vision impaired or blind send her to a Vista Center’s Access Technology specialist in Palo Alto or Santa Cruz for a tech tune-up. She’ll be so grateful you did!

TheatreWorks production people acting on stage5. That’s Entertainment. Surprise her with two tickets to a concert or better yet a described play. Many theaters offer audio description for the sight impaired. Look here on the Audio Description Project by the American Council of the Blind for a theater near her. In Silicon Valley and the Peninsula these two organizations offer AD for many of their performances – just check before purchasing:  Broadway San Jose, TheatreWorks.

Purple tulips surrounded by votives in shades of rose and lavender

6. Artisan-crafted pieces. Does your mom enjoy the smell of scented candles? She can put them in beautiful hand crafted glassybaby collectible votives. Creating each stunning and unique glassybaby item involves eight hands, 2000 degrees of focused heat, and a multi-layered glassblowing process. With every sale glassybaby donates 10% to helping people, animals and the environment heal.

Woman holding cane wearing a grey  “Just Say Hey” braille shirt

7. Fashion Forward. Get your mom a stylish top that says Just Say Hey (with the word Hey in Braille) or a cute grey top with a cane graphic that says, “It’s Just a Cane.” Orientation & Mobility Specialist Ashley Broussard (and former Vista Center employee) started a thoughtful and lovely online shop called Cane and Compass that creates items for the visually impaired and their loved ones and sells these shirts. Use code: “Momlove” for 15% off until May 11!  

Bangle with a yellow sun charm that says, “You are my sunshine”8. Meaningful Jewelry. Alex and Ani carries bracelets, necklace pendants and rings that are very unique, reasonable and fun to select! Choose from a variety of meaningful symbols to complement the jewelry that is hand-crafted in the US. Alex and Ani creates a lot of jewelry that raises funds for non-profits like the “You are My Sunshine” bangle that benefits the Children’s Glaucoma Foundation. Alex & Ani is hosting a Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired fundraiser at Stanford Shopping Center on May 24, 2018 5-8pm.

A banana shaped Banagrams zipper bag
9. Good Old Fashioned Fun. Remember what you used to do with her on a Saturday night? Look up some family favorite moviesfrom the past, make some popcorn and have a marathon viewing session. Relive the memories and break out some board games. There is a great Big Letter Banagrams for moms with low vision (and proceeds benefit America Macular Degeneration Foundation) and Brailled UNO (which we have in our stores) and Monopoly.

Several Vista Center Shared Path participants out on a group hike in the Redwoods.10. Inspire. Donate to a Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in her name and we’ll send her a card letting her know your gift is restoring hope and creating opportunities through life-changing services and programs.

*“Calgon, take me away,” was a line often repeated in humorous ways that came from this well-known 70s ad.
** Unless noted above, Vista Center has no affiliation with any of the companies listed.



Welcome to Vista Center’s New Blog!

We plan to share insights into low vision, blindness, accessibility, assistive tech, advocacy, resources and stories of Vista Center programs, events, highlights, clients, volunteers, partners and wonderful supporters. We welcome all your suggestions, questions and insight! And here’s our first post…

Getting around is one of the first things new clients need to master - like crossing the street, paying attention to cracks or roots in the sidewalk. Our specially trained Orientation & Mobility specialists take great pride in working with you to become an independent traveler in various environments. The following two videos speak to creating further independence.

Created by Vista Center this instructional video walks you through how to use a Caltrain Audible Ticket Vending machine.  

The video offers a step by step explanation describing the lay out of the machine so that the user can search efficiently for the menu buttons, volume adjustments, the payment input.  Additionally, the video describes where to locate the ticket dispenser and change compartment.

This second video thrilled us! In the Netherlands, all the train stations have tactile foot pathways and waymarkings for a person who is blind to navigate their way on and off the train.