Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Vista Center's mission is one of encouraging hope, inspiring success and empowering independence by enabling individuals who are blind or visually impaired to embrace life to the fullest through evaluation, counseling, education and training.

Vista Center is the premier resource for individuals with vision loss in San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties, serving more than 2,000 clients and families each year. Vista Center enables clients to achieve their highest potential through programs that promote independence and improve their quality of life.

Vista Services:

• Low Vision examinations and evaluations are provided by specially trained low vision optometrists. Typically, they prescribe optical aids to help the client use his/her remaining vision more effectively. About 500 individuals were seen last year, but many more need this service.

• Social Services and Counseling help both clients and families cope with the special problems that accompany the loss of sight and gain access to other community resources. Support groups, led by our counseling staff, provide an opportunity for clients to talk about strategies for coping with sight loss and build their own support community. Choices and Changes offers education and training in managing sight loss. Over 800 individuals were served with these programs last year reflecting a steady increase in demand over the last five years.

• Orientation and mobility training teaches clients how to live more independently, including crossing streets safety, using public transportation and acclimating to school or work place. 355 individuals were taught last year, and the complexity of need is increasing.

• Living Skills instruction aids clients with day-to-day tasks that become difficult with the loss of sight. Clients learn skills such as cooking, housekeeping and money management. In computer classes and the Internet Cafe (Santa Cruz), clients learn about assistive technology so they can access information via large print or voice output. Braille classes offer an alternative method of reading and writing for those who are blind or visually impaired. 520 individuals received instruction last year and the demand is increasing.

• The Health Library offers a variety of scientifically-based medical information on vision loss and rehabilitation. The volunteer staff can search accessible media for medical information for anyone who is blind or visually impaired and requests assistance. Inquiries have doubled this past year to 1200 requests for information.

• The Store at Vista Center is stocked with a variety of products that can help people who are blind or visually impaired lead more independent lives.

• Youth Group activities enable our young clients to engage in recreational and educational activities which are specially planned and adapted for students with blindness and vision impairments. 135 youths were served last year and the demand will increase.

• Well-trained volunteers work directly with our clients, filling a variety of needs such as reading mail, helping with shopping and lending friendly support.