Vista Insights March 2023 Newsletter

Welcome Back to Vista Event
Daily Living With Vision Loss
High-Tech and Low-Tech Solutions
What: How the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired can help you expand your world
When: Saturday, March 18, 2023 10am to 2pm
Where: Twin Lakes Church 2701 Cabrillo College Drive, Aptos

Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the premier organization serving those experiencing vision changes in Santa Cruz County, invites you to meet our staff, other clients and volunteers who create a welcoming and supportive community for those with vision loss and help those who are blind or visually impaired regain their independence.

Join us for a talk by Susan and John Glass, who have been blind since birth, and Hannah Fairbairn and Bob Geyer who each have low vision. They will discuss how Vista’s low-tech and high-tech solutions have helped them expand their world.

Come discover the programs Vista Center has to help those who are blind or visually impaired live a successful, fulfilling, independent life:Adaptive Daily Living skills – from reading your mail to cookingReading – FREE audio books and magazinesAssistive Technology – from iPhone to talking appliancesIndependent Travel – walking to riding the busHome Repair and Woodworking – fixing a faucet to building a tableThe event will also feature North State Assistive Technologies which carries a wide variety of products. You will have an opportunity to try the latest in wearable technology devices.

Light refreshments will be served.

Registration is recommended but not necessary. To register or for more information, contact the Vista Santa Cruz office at 831-458-9766.

Save the date
Be My Eyes Founder to be Honored
What: Vista Honors
When: Friday, April 21, 5:45 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Computer History Museum, Mountain View
Vista Center’s second Vista Honors brings together Silicon Valley’s accessibility community to honor revolutionary leaders and companies that are shaping technology to support people living with vision loss.

Please join us to honor the work of social entrepreneur Hans Jørgen Wiberg and the impact of the company he founded, Be My Eyes. Be My Eyes is a revolutionary mobile app that connects people living with vision loss to volunteers who offer their sight to help with daily living tasks. For blind or low-vision people, reading a label, a street sign, or a menu, can present significant daily obstacles.

This exclusive event and fundraiser benefits Vista Center’s critical programs and services. To purchase a sponsorship, visit, or contact

Research News

Geographic Atrophy Treatment Approved

From The Foundation for Fighting Blindness
Apellis Pharmaceuticals, a global biopharmaceutical company, announced the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved SYFOVRE™ (pegcetacoplan injection) for people with geographic atrophy (GA) secondary to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of devastating central vision loss in people over 55 in developed countries. The newly approved therapy is the first ever approved by the FDA for GA, the advanced form of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which causes blindness in 1 million people in the United States and 5 million worldwide.

“The approval of SYFOVRE is truly a special moment for the Foundation Fighting Blindness family and a victory for all people with advanced dry AMD who otherwise face relentless vision loss,” said Jason Menzo, chief executive officer at the Foundation Fighting Blindness. “With our unwavering commitment to driving the advancement of treatments and cures for dry AMD and inherited retinal diseases, we celebrate this historical milestone.”

For more information, see the Foundation Fighting Blindness website. To check out the latest research into other retinal disease visit Eye On the Cure Research News.

Tech It Out with Vista – Microsoft Research: Making Video Meetings Accessible
When: Friday, March 3
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. (Pacific)
Registration is required for this meeting: Register here.

Our guest this month will be John C. Tang, Ph.D., senior principal researcher with Microsoft Research.
In this talk, John will discuss two current research topics on making video meetings accessible to people who are blind or low vision.

Spatial sound separates meeting participants’ audio into distinct locations, instead of the mono audio we currently experience in Zoom. While Apple FaceTime has offered spatial audio for some time (try it in a call with more than two people), other video meeting programs are still developing how to deliver spatial audio as part of the meeting user experience.

We’ll talk about some of the opportunities and challenges of using spatial audio in video meetings.

Another area of research is around accessibility challenges in hybrid meetings, where some people are gathering together in person and others are joining remotely. Based on a study of accessibility challenges of hybrid meetings, we’ll discuss issues raised for people who are blind or low vision and some of the workarounds they developed.

Coming up on Tech it Out With Vista
Friday April 7, Dragon Dictation
Friday, May 5, TBD
Friday, June 2, TBD

Tech Gadgets
Improved Victor Reader Stream 3 Arrives
Humanware announced that the new generation of the Victor Reader Stream has arrived!

Your favorite book reader is even more powerful and loaded with new features. They include:
 Bluetooth. You can now connect to wireless speakers, headphones, or compatible hearing aids.Longer battery life of up to 15 hours.A better speaker with improved sound quality.Revamped tactile interface.But don’t worry, if you’re a longtime Victor Reader user, you’ll find yourself in familiar territory. For more information about the new Victor Reader Stream 3, contact North State Assistive Technologies, by email at, by phone at 530-877-1625, or visit

Practice your O&M Skills
When: Thday, March 16, from 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Where: Chaminade Resort, 1 Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz
Join us for a casual 1.0 mile walk on a wide and flat solid dirt surface trail with a slight uphill grade. Chaminade Resort has many trails for their guests which are also open to the public.

The trail we will walk is an out and back trail that begins in a mixed oak forest and proceeds through an open meadow. This walk will give us a chance to practice off sidewalk skills.

Vista O&M Instructor Tiffany Chinn will be on hand to provide pointers and tips of the trade. To sign up contact the Vista Santa Cruz office at 458-9766.

Books Related to BlindnessWhen you can’t believe your eyes: vision loss and personal recovery, By Hannah Fairbairn. With a special emphasis on the challenges faced by seniors with failing vision, this highly practical how-to focuses on practical, social, and personal recovery. Hannah has a companion website to her book.

 Podcast of the MonthFoundation Fighting Blindness, Eye on the Cure Podcast: Ben Shaberman, Jan. 6, Episode 38For the first Eye on the Cure episode for 2023, host Ben Shaberman highlights some of the promising clinical advancement made in therapy development over the past year. His recap includes discussions of emerging treatments from: SparingVision, Atsena Therapeutics, Alkeus, Belite, Apellis, Iveric Bio, MeiraGTx, AGTC, 4DMT, and Opus Genetics, which, after the recording of the episode, reported its acquisition of rights to gene therapies for Best disease and RP (RHO).

Accessibility Support Resources
The following is a list of resources compiled by Apple accessibility expert Rita Howells from her monthly column.Rita’s iDevice Advice for Feb. 6, 2023(Note: This list is not complete. There are many more resources for persons with visual impairment. This is just a sample of helpful resources.)

With a welcomed emphasis on accessibility and inclusion, numerous companies now offer specialized support services for customers with vision loss. They are there to help you get the most out of their products and to ensure your devices are set up right, to accommodate your needs.

Amazon’s Accessibility Customer Service:  888-283-1678
Call to speak with an accessibility specialist who can help you buy books and other products, or get you directly to tech support for Amazon devices and services including Alexa, Kindle & Fire Tablet.

American Foundation For The Blind (AFB):  1-800-232-5463,

American Printing House (APH):

Apple Accessibility Support Line:  877-204-3930
For users of Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, or Mac – this is a gift. It is a special support line reserved for customers with vision, hearing, motor, and learning impairments. Senior AppleCare specialists are available 24/7 to help you get your Accessibility Settings right, answer your questions, and resolve your technical issues.

AT&T National Center for Citizens with Disabilities (NCCD):  866-241-6568
This is where wireless customers with vision loss get answers to questions about accessibility features and services available from AT&T.

Audible Support:  888-283-5051.

Blind Abilities:
On the web at
Download the Free Blind Abilities App from the App Store or the Google Play Store. Email:

Comcast Accessibility:  866-668-6703
Direct line to a dedicated team, specially trained to support customers who rely on accessibility services including voice guidance and video description.

GE Appliance Support:  1-800-626-2000

To request a call back, from a Google Disability support specialist, complete this online form.

Call an accessibility specialist at Google through the BeMyEyes app on a smartphone or tablet. Click the ‘Specialized Help’ button on the app’s home page, select Google in the Technical tab.

Google Technical Support:  855-971-9121.
May (or may not) be able to help with accessibility questions, depends on the specialist you connect with.

Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired:
“iFocus” Hadley Instructional Videos

HALOS Tactile Icons:
HALOS (Home Appliance Label and Overlay System) tactile icons are shapes that represent common features on home appliances. We sell the tactile icons as stickers that can be applied directly to a touch surface control panel. These stickers identify both the location and the function of an appliance feature.  They are like bump dots but smarter! We offer five tactile icon packages – microwave, oven, washer, keypad and home. The microwave, oven and washer packages contain two sets of 9 commonly used appliance features. For example, the microwave package includes tactile icon stickers for start, stop, power level, add time, popcorn, pizza, potato, defrost and timer. The home package has over 60 icons to identify a variety of home appliance features. Finally our keypad package is used to label keypads commonly found on microwaves and ovens. We also offer custom labeling – just send us a picture of the appliance, plus the make and model and we will create a custom set of tactile icons for all the buttons on your appliance. For more information go to or contact Anne at

HP Accessibility Support:  888-259-5707
Technical support for customers with accessibility needs, pertaining to HP (Hewlett Packard) products, available from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Mountain Time.

“iDevices” Email List Serv:
Here you can ask questions about iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and related apps and accessories. People also bring their Apple TV, Apple Watch, and HomePod questions. subscription address is,

LinkedIn Disability Answer DeskCall on Be My Eyes app Contact an accessibility specialist.
Menus4All iOS App:
Menus4ALL has accessible restaurant menus.
Go to the Apple App Store to download the Accessible Menus app. There is a subscription of $2.99 per month, after a 14-day free trial.
Microsoft Disability Answer Desk:  800-936-5900 or the Be My Eyes app
The features you need to make your PC ‘vision friendly’ are built right into Windows – unfortunately, many people don’t know that. Microsoft recognized this as a significant problem and put in place a support team specialized in accessibility. So dial them up and get your computer setup to work for you (not against you). And, to make it even easier on yourself — allow them remote access to your PC and they can make the adjustments.
MindsEye:  (618) 394-6449
Web Translating Vision into Audio. MindsEye connects people with a visual disability, through information, rewarding recreation, and artistic and cultural experiences.

We provide a broad range of ever evolving programming designed with our listeners in mind, delivered by volunteers and staff who exemplify our culture of

The Free MindsEyeRadio app can be downloaded by searching “MindsEye Radio” in the Apple store or visiting

National Braille Press:

NLS Talking Books: 
There is a “BARD” app to download NLS talking Books on to your Apple iOS device

The Accessibility Team at Peloton will answer your questions and give you a call, if you request it by email to:

Spectrum Accessibility Support:  844-762-1301
Call this support line to learn about and take advantage of Spectrum cable accessibility accommodations.

Spotify:  Call on Be My Eyes app
Get help from your smartphone or tablet with any questions you may have about Spotify, music streaming service. Speak to a trained customer service specialist on BME; go to Specialized Help, Technical, then Spotify.

T-Mobile Accessibility: 833-428-1785
T-Mobile has an Accessibility Support web page. It says, “T-Mobile will provide accessible support for wireless network service and billing inquiries. Please contact our Accessibility Customer Care at 1-833-428-1785 if you have any questions or need special assistance. For additional support, please contact Customer Care.”

Verizon Center for Customers with Disabilities: 800-974-6006,

Verizon Wireless National Accessibility Center: 888-262-1999
It can sometimes be challenging to get information about accessibility features that make your mobile phone, or tablet, work for you. Questions about enlarging text, using voice commands effectively, or using the screen reader:  now there is a customer service and technical support center dedicated to helping people maximize the accessibility features built into all of Verizon’s mobile devices. Let them help you get your device set just right for you, from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., EST, Monday – Friday.

Schedule of Classes, Groups, and Events

March 1 Tea Time With Hannah
When: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (First Wednesday of each month)
Cookies and Company
Reservations limited to four people; call (831) 458-9766 

March 1, 8, 15, 22 Individual Tech Lessons(Every Wednesday)
Individual lessons are available on access technology devices. Contact Stacie Grijalva for an appointment. Email, or call the Vista office at 831-458-9766. 

March 3 Tech it Out with Vista(First Friday); topic changes)
Topic: Microsoft Research: Making Video Meetings Accessible
Where: On Zoom
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. (Pacific)
Register Here.

March 7
Spanish-Speaking Support Group
When: 1:30–3:00 p.m. (Every Tuesday)
Led by Ana Bedingfeld. Contact Ana for information at, or call the Vista office at 831-458-9766.

March 7, 14, 21, 28 
Peer Mentor Support Groups(Every Tuesday)
Led by Bevie HeningerConference call
Contact Bevie, or call 831-458-9766 for information  

March 13 Vista Santa Cruz Book Club
When: 10:00-11:00 a.m. (Second Monday; books change)
Led by Patrice Maginnis
Books to be discussed are “The Woman in the Library,” by Sulari Gentill; and “Switchboard Soldiers,” by Jennifer Chiaverini. If you are interested in joining us, RSVP to Patrice at, or call (831) 458-9766. 

March 16 
Walk to Practice O&M Skills
When: 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Where: Chaminade Resort
Contact Tiffany Chinn at 458-9766 or email her at for more details. 

March 17
Game Day
When: 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. (Third Friday)
For information, call email Bevie at, or call the office at 831-458-9766 for information.

March 21 English-Speaking Support Group
1:30-3:00 p.m. (Third Tuesday)
Led by Ana Bedingfeld. Contact Ana for information at, or call the Vista office at 831-458-9766. March 24

Celebration Dinner for Welcome Back Event

When: 6:00 p.m.
Where: Casa Nostra Ristorante, Scotts Valley
RSVP to Tiffany Chinn at 458-9766 or email her at
 Copyright © 2023 VistaNewsletter created by Co-Editors Bob Geyer and Patrice Maginnis. Contact us at
Branch Manager Tiffany Chinn.

Vista Center Santa Cruz’s office hours by appointment only are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  The store hours by appointment only are Monday and Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.