Vista Center For The Blind and Visually Impaired

aka Formerly Peninsula Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired   |   Palo Alto, CA   |


Vista Center empowers individuals who are blind or visually impaired to embrace life to the fullest through evaluation, counseling, education and training.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ms. Karae Lisle

Main address

2500 El Camino Real, Suite 100

Palo Alto, CA 94306 USA

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NTEE code info

Blind/Visually Impaired Centers, Services (P86)

IRS filing requirement

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Vista Center empowers individuals who are blind or visually impaired to embrace life to the fullest through evaluation, counseling, education and training. Serving over 3,300 people annually, in four northern California counties, Vista Center programs and services help individuals get from where they are with their vision loss, to where they want to be: accomplishing their unique life goals. The organization empowers visually impaired people by engaging them in a variety of diverse and challenging activities that promote personal confidence, bolster professional achievement, and maximize independence. Vista Center believes that visual impairment should not limit life accomplishments and dreams.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Safe and Healthy Living

Without sight the most routine tasks can seem insurmountable. The Safe and Healthy Living
program assesses the individual needs of a client and develops a customized plan of action for teaching the skills that enable independence.

Social Services - Participants receive an overall assessment of their current situation and needs. Our social workers help individuals develop a rehabilitation plan, provide case management and keep the individual informed about programs, services and resources to support that person’s independence.

Orientation & Mobility - Our teachers work with clients on mastering activities such as cane use, crossing streets, using public transportation, walking with a guide dog and navigating everyday environments.

Daily Living Skills training helps clients live safely and become more independent by learning safe cooking techniques, independent medication and health management, housekeeping, personal hygiene, money and paperwork management, and adapting to everyday environments so clients can negotiate daily tasks.

Counseling & Support Groups include individual and/or group professional counseling. Sessions help clients adjust to living with a disability.

The Health Library, a branch of The Stanford Health Library, offers a variety of scientifically-based medical information on vision loss and rehabilitation. Skilled volunteers can research medical topics for any blind or visually impaired person who requests assistance.

Support for Vocational Services - Vista Center staff support visually impaired people who are working or returning to work with orientation to the job site, organizational skills, technology training, and by linking them to community resources that provide job support.

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

Volunteers - Our enthusiastic volunteers work directly with our clients filling a variety of needs. They also work in The Store, The Health Library, or assist visually impaired staff members.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

When someone is slowly losing sight, losing faith in one’s ability to function independently becomes a real fear. By conducting evaluations, which result in recommendations and education to enhance the use of remaining vision, Vista Center’s specially trained Low Vision Optometrists provide devices, services and support that alleviate fear and restore hope.

Low Vision Clinic - The individual’s functional vision will be evaluated by our Low Vision Optometrist who will recommend adaptive equipment to assist in daily life activities. These adaptive aids can assist with reading, writing, watching television, seeing street signs, and many other daily activities.

Lighting Evaluations & Contrast Training - Our Occupational Therapist will provide an evaluation to determine the best lighting for your home environment and for completing a task. The use of contrast in your home will also be demonstrated to make daily tasks easier.

Low Vision Aids & Devices Training - Appropriate magnifying devices and electronic equipment are demonstrated and recommended to allow the client to maximize the use of remaining vision.

Low Vision Expo event provides speakers from the ophthalmology community, technology expertise and the opportunity to visit with a variety of vendors demonstrating the latest in assistive technology and community resources.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Vista Center’s Technology Program is leading the way in bringing technology that was once only available to the sighted community to those who are blind or visually impaired. Our Access Technology Specialists provide basic to advanced customized training to enrich, simplify, transform, and open up new worlds to our clients.

Technology Lab Days - The Tech Lab is a free one-on-one session designed to demonstrate a variety of devices and help with selecting the best option in a supportive setting.

Technology User Group - These free meetings are scheduled once a month in our Palo Alto office. Learn from speakers from assistive technology companies and be in the know about what is new.

Assistive Technology Training - This is a one-on-one training session at our Palo Alto office with our Technology Specialist to learn exactly what you need to know. Topics include using your personal computer with the latest assistive software including ZoomText, Magic, JAWS, MS Office with Assistive Technology and Internet Explorer with Assistive Technology. Individual instruction on the latest Apple IOS and Android devices is also available.

Concierge Training in Your Home - We offer individualized instruction in your home, including a personalized assessment of your training needs and equipment, one-on-one instruction on your personal computer using assistive technology soft- ware, and teaching you how to use other devices effectively. We will help you to select applications that suit your needs and offer training on them. Follow-up services are offered to verify that you have mastered the skills you need.

Technology for Youth - Offering opportunities for youths to learn the latest assistive technology and applications, especially those being used in the classroom.

VIPTUC (Visually Impaired Persons Technology Users Conference) is for those interested in learning about cutting edge technologies being incorporated in a variety of products, especially the latest smart phones, and how that technology
is being made accessible to those who are blind or visually impaired.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Blind and visually impaired young people are no different from their sighted peers in their desire for opportunities to engage with others and make a difference in the world. The Children and Youth Services Program provides them with the tools, strategies, confidence, and courage to build the future that they dream of and that is possible.

Family & Youth Activities - Planned events are scheduled throughout the year for a family day of fun! Enjoy amusement parks, visiting the zoo, going fishing, kayaking, ice skating and a whole lot more!

When I Grow Up - Offers the opportunity for a blind or visually impaired youth to "see” their future possibilities by getting to know blind and visually impaired adults who have succeeded in a sighted world.

Teens Together Plus is a monthly support group for our blind and visually impaired youth who are between the ages of 15 and 22 years old. It is an excellent opportunity to connect with peers, build social skills, receive emotional support, and share information about technology and other areas of interest related to blindness.

Braille Challenge is a celebration of braille literacy in the form of a contest among blind school children. The contestants are public and private school students in grades one through twelve. Winners participate in the National Braille Challenge sponsored by the Braille Institute.

Instruction in Schools - Teachers of the Visually Impaired are directly involved in the education and rehabilitation of blind children. We contract with numerous school districts to provide their blind education and rehabilitation services. Our services include Orientation and Mobility, Activities of Daily Living, Technology for Youths, Teachers of the Visually Impaired, and Assessment Services.

Pre-School Vision Screening is done by trained volunteers in Santa Cruz County.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Vista Center is committed to communicating our mission and how we can help all individuals in our service area who are experiencing vision loss, through a comprehensive community outreach program.

Community Outreach includes presentations and educational events targeted to specific groups including:

• Medical referral sources, including MDs, ODs and medical groups
• Community centers and civic organizations
• Health fairs
• Senior residences
• Vista Center open house events and Low Vision Expos
• Corporate employee presentations

Classroom Outreach & Education - Our teachers provide education and outreach at K-12 schools to educate students about what vision loss is, how they can help someone who has vision loss and what they should do to take care of their own eye health. Students are offered the opportunity to become volunteers to help someone who is blind.

Paratransit, Public Transit and Intersection Consulting - Municipal traffic departments and public transportation agencies contract with Vista Center to formally analyze street intersections for pedestrian safety and to make suggestions as to how they can be modified. We also analyze bus and train embarkation points and advise how they may be improved.

Our Orientation& Mobility staff participates on county paratransit agency advisory boards to monitor trends and suggest service improvements.

Professional Staff Inservices are offered to cover a variety of topics including, An Insight into Vision Loss, The Sighted Guide Experience, Essential Communication Strategies, and Strategies for Coping with Significant Vision Loss. If your staff works with or assists individuals who are blind or visually impaired, we can provide the training that is needed to promote a safe and respectful environment.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Hours of Services Rendered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Vista Center’s programs help clients accomplish new and often very challenging activities, like walking across a four-lane road, grocery shopping, or working in the tech sector – reading emails, performing under timelines. Vista Center empowers visually impaired people by engaging them in a variety of diverse and demanding activities that promote personal confidence, bolster professional achievement, and maximize independence.

Teaching youth to take risks by attempting new activities early in life is critically important in building self-esteem and self-reliance as an adult. So, whether it’s downhill skiing, kayaking or attending college, Vista Center provides the supportive tools for our adult and youth clients to live rich and rewarding lives! We work with adults and senior citizens, too, so whether it's kayaking or re-entering the workforce after vision loss, Vista Center is the YES, YOU CAN to those living with blindness or visual impairment.

Vista Center provides counseling, education, and training to support individuals living with blindness or visual impairment. An experienced social services staff meets with each client at the client’s home or in a mutually convenient location, provides information about the services available at Vista Center, and connects clients to the appropriate Vista Center services. At this visit social services staff also inform clients about community resources that can assist them with vision loss related needs such as accessible telephones, transportation resources and audible reading materials.

Vista Center offers comprehensive information and referral services about local community, state or national resources available for individuals who are blind and visually impaired. Clients can access services at one of our three low-vision clinics, participate in classes designed to enhance and improve quality of life, attend support groups, and access the vitally important orientation and mobility training necessary to ensure and maximize independence. In addition, in-school services are provided and training to help clients with tasks of daily living round out the ways in which Vista Center serves the community at large.

Clients also have the opportunity to obtain training for use of access technology, as Vista Center partners with many technology companies working to support inclusion.

Vista Center staffs social workers, orientation and mobility specialists, access technology specialists, and youth and adult program managers whose jobs involve delivery of services inside and outside of three locations, to include Palo Alto, San Jose, and Santa Cruz. The organization takes referrals from healthcare providers and also has in-house providers who conduct in-depth evaluations that facilitate best use of remaining vision for low-vision clients. Vista Center develops unique client plans for patients that clearly communicate which tools and techniques will best address their vision impairment needs.

Every single year, Vista Center serves over 3,300 youth, adult, and senior clients living with blindness and visual impairment across four northern California counties. We help individuals get from where they are with vision loss to where they want to be: living their best life and Vista Center is the only option for many clients.

The number of Californians facing visual impairment is set to double by 2050, yet Medicare and other major insurance companies fail to extend long-term coverage for vision rehabilitation. Vista Center picks up where they leave off, providing vitally important programs and services not covered by insurance. We bridge the gap by providing training that empowers clients to master tasks of daily living, thereby fostering independence, bolstering confidence, and facilitating the achievement of every client’s unique life goals.

Vista Center is the "YES, YOU CAN" to people living with vision loss.

We place teachers for the visually impaired in schools, helping youth prepare for adulthood. We send social workers into homes to customize individual client plans. We train clients to use access technology. We host support groups in which clients build the community that energizes and propels them to live rich and rewarding lives. We champion inclusion!

While plans for the next decade include preparing for the vast increase in the number of clients we are likely to serve, we are also planning to add programs for workforce development. With approximately 70% of those living with vision loss becoming unemployed as a result, Vista Center understands the need to partner with local nonprofits, government agencies, and for-profit entities to educate employers about the value of accommodations that serve to support a more inclusive and positive workforce.


Vista Center For The Blind and Visually Impaired

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Vista Center For The Blind and Visually Impaired

Board of directors
as of 06/27/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

John Glass

Vista Center

Term: 2020 - 2023

Mike Freitas

Freitas + Freitas, Engineering and Planning Consultants

Steve Sanislo

Byers Eye Institute at Stanford

Joan Desmond

National Catholic Register

Susan Glass

no affiliation

John Glass

Vista Center

Katie Hogan

Notre Dame High School

Meaux Costello

Buckingham Strategic Wealth

John Hufferd

Patrice Maginnis

University of California, Santa Cruz

Roberto Manduchi

University of California, Santa Cruz

Bill Miklos

Mike Plesha

Expense Reduction

Bob Stewart

Lions International

Ashley Tuan

Mojo Vision

John Giddings

Santa Clara University

Dan Moskowitz

Third Point Ventures

Marquise Murphy

Marquise Real Estate Partners

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 6/26/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data