Success Story: Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impairedby SRP on December 2, 2023
Located on the El Camino edge of Stanford Research Park, Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired has become a beloved center of hope and resilience. Clients born without sight or those who experience vision loss turn to the Center to gain invaluable skills that help them maintain or regain independence. The Center’s breadth of resources and expertise enable clients to overcome hurdles that could otherwise prevent them from maintaining cherished or vital abilities. As one example, clients can learn how to continue to work in Excel and build PowerPoints, among other skills, in order to keep their careers. Or they can find ways to keep playing a sport that provides them essential exercise and joy. If the Research Park is a testament to human innovation, then Vista Center is testament to the human spirit.
Established in 1936 as the Palo Alto Society for the Blind, the organization provided housing to the visually impaired. The mission would eventually shift from housing to fostering independence and, in 2005, it became known as Vista Center. Today, Vista, which is dubbed as the “premier service provider for people who are blind or have low vision from ages 3 to 103,” operates three vision centers and clinics up and down the Bay Area. The centers—each with a specialist optometrist, staff, and volunteers—offer clinical vision evaluations a tailored vision plan
In addition to accessing individualized support, clients can select from a range of practical classes and social engagements. The Center offers a series of adaptive and living skills and mobility trainings, such as safe cooking and cleaning, how to create a safe and usable home environment, or how to use sound, touch, and cane techniques to travel in the world with ease. Advancements in assistive technologies make even robust computer and smartphone use possible, and clients have access to numerous classes about how to use magnifiers and accessibility tools to remain digitally connected. The team cares just as much for their clients’ social wellbeing as they do their physical wellbeing and hosts gatherings for clients, like book clubs and game nights.
Passionate about serving as many people as possible, the Center’s 50+ programs—many of which are available in several languages—are free or ask for very low participation fees. The Center also offers family programs and partners with school districts to ensure blind and visually impaired students have the adaptive skills necessary for them to thrive in and enjoy school. Over its long history, the Center and its devoted team have not only advised numerous clients on how to remain engaged in the world, but it has also restored hope and happiness to those fortunate enough to pass through its doors.