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Meet the Experts at our Vision Services Open House

DG teen

Two pre-teen boys and two Delta Gamma volunteers play a game of Uno together, using large print cards at our March 7 Open House for students and families.

Come to our Vision Services Open House to learn more about the Council and our services. You will have the chance to meet our Vision Services staff as they guide you in magnification and screen reading software demonstrations.

They will also introduce new products available at our Sharper Vision Store and let you experience them first-hand.

  • Discover the capabilities of modern technology via introductions to Amazon Echo and Google Home.
  • Explore how Aira glasses, with a camera on the front and access to a live agent, can aid in orientation and help with tasks that require vision.
  • Learn your preferred lighting strength and color preferences with the LuxIQ.
  • Check out other new products in the Sharper Vision Store.
  • Experience the new ExpressVote accessible voting machine.

We look forward to meeting you, showing you around, and sharing light refreshments. No registration is necessary. Stop in anytime between 3:00 - 7:00 p.m. on Monday, April 16. You will find Wisconsin Council of the Blind and the Sharper Vision Store at 754 Williamson Street in Madison.

 

A Welcoming Main Street

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Main Street, Dodgeville, WI

Even the most experienced business owners are often unaware of friendly, effective ways to serve customers with visual impairments. Our latest guidebook, “A Welcoming Main Street,” helps businesses extend hospitality to all. Wisconsin Council of the Blind introduced the booklet, made possible by an anonymous grant, to Dodgeville area business owners at a luncheon on Tuesday, February 6.

The guide helps businesses become more welcoming for everyone and it provides specific suggestions for serving customers who are blind or visually impaired. Simple tips, such as saying “How can I help you?” make a difference. This greeting lets a customer know you have noticed them, gives them the opportunity to tell you how you can best assist, and tells them where you are standing or sitting so they can face you and talk to you directly.

Suggestions for the best lighting, how to reduce glare to make it easier for customers to see while in your business, and how to design signage to increase visibility are also covered in the booklet. Examples of different low vision conditions are also provided, giving business owners an idea of the uniqueness of each person’s condition.

The idea to produce the guide came about because Council staff members saw the business guide created by Dementia Friendly America and thought it would be helpful to put together guidelines for business owners who want to serve those with visual impairments more conscientiously. Inclusivity, uncompromising respect and integrity represent the core values of the Council, and the booklet empowers business owners to incorporate practices in their shops, restaurants and offices in a way that reflects these values.

“I think it’s important for people who are blind or visually impaired to get equal service out in the community,” says Jean Kalscheur, Director of Education and Vision Services at the Council. “It’s essential for business owners to recognize that not everyone can handle or manage information in the same way. It’s not expensive to make the changes we suggest and it will go a long way towards making businesses more accessible for everyone.”

The Council distributed the guide to state legislators at our recent 2018 Legislative Day. All Lions Clubs in Wisconsin will receive a copy and the guide is available online at http://wcblind.org/news/374-a-welcoming-main-street-2. Apply the suggestions and strategies in your business or share the guide with a business owner you know. Together, we can all work to make our main streets more welcoming to people who are blind or visually impaired.

 

Join Us for a Birding Webinar

Ever hear a melodious birdsong in your backyard and wonder which kind of bird is singing? Join us for our newest webinar, “Birding by Ear.” The session is Monday, April 23, from 11:00 a.m. - noon.

The Council is offering this webinar in partnership with Kerry Wilcox, who is an experienced birder and a volunteer with Madison Audubon Society. He will introduce the calls of common Wisconsin spring birds, and teach ways to identify and interpret the sounds, from mating calls to calls of warning. He will also share apps and websites for furthering listening skills.

If you cannot attend due to time constraints, register anyway. Everyone who registers will receive a copy of the webinar after the event, regardless of whether they attend the webinar on the day it goes live. To sign up, visit wcblind.org/events.

 

Tribute to a Long-Time Volunteer, Karen Lee Weidig

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Karen Lee Weidig stands, facing the camera, with a bright smile, as she volunteers at a recent Council event.

Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and meet new people. For longtime Council volunteer, Karen Lee Weidig, performing acts of service introduces her to new friends and new experiences.

Karen Lee originally hails from Milwaukee. She moved to Madison in the 1970s. She says she somehow ended up on the Council’s phone list and was asked to volunteer for Legislative Day sometime in the 1990s. She continues volunteering with the Council to this day.

Karen Lee’s volunteer activities with the Council are wide-ranging. At Legislative Days, she assists visitors with the lunch buffet and with finding their way to meetings with legislators. When the Council held events at the Coliseum, she served as a friendly greeter. Now Karen Lee volunteers in peoples’ homes, helping with office tasks such as filing and organization of papers, attending Spanish club with a language student and practicing the language with her, and assisting an author in making edits to the book she is writing.

“I’ve been offered such a wide variety of growth-producing experiences,” says Karen Lee. “I’ve come to consider these people as friends.”

Volunteering has also given Karen Lee a greater exposure to activities she might not have tried otherwise. “It’s been excellent to spend time with all these great people who are working on such interesting projects,” she says. “To be included in that circle has really enhanced my own interests and the things I have been exposed to. I have a lot of fun learning.”

If you want to make a difference and are looking for volunteer opportunities, consider giving of your time to the Council. We are currently seeking an Archive Volunteer to help us organize our historical documents and a Special Events Volunteer to greet guests and serve food at various Council events. Visit wcblind.org/news/359-we-can-use-your-help or contact Lori at 608-237-8114 for more information.

 

Spring Gallery Night is Coming

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Two women, with their backs to the camera, admire a multi-colored tactile art piece at the Council’s Fall Gallery Night in October. The woman on the right touches the art piece with her right hand.

Gallery Night is a popular Madison tradition, and at the Council we put a special spin on the event by featuring the works of artists who are blind or visually impaired. The Council’s Gallery Night event will take place on Friday, May 4, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

This citywide event, organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, is a great way for art enthusiasts and novices alike to view and shop for work by local artists. Each spring and fall the event includes free exhibitions, opening receptions, special events and demonstrations all around Madison.

Our exhibit gives artists who are blind or visually impaired a chance to display, sell and talk about their art. Ever wondered what it takes to paint a canvas if you have limited vision? Want to ask a blind photographer how they capture their breathtaking images? Come visit the Council and find out for yourself.

Who knows? You might just find that perfect piece of artwork to hang on your wall at home or in your office!

We will be announcing our artists soon. Watch our publications and social media to find out more.

 

outlook

The Outlook from Here is a blog dedicated to sharing stories of living in Wisconsin with blindness, visual impairment, or disability.

Beginning in October 2013, a small group of people from across Wisconsin began meeting over the phone to discuss how to tell stories about disability, blindness, and visual impairment. Many of us had never written about our experiences before but some of us had, and even one person had published. Together, we discussed the dire need to share stories of disability, the challenges of communicating about disability, and the hurdles to writing in general.

The writers group decided to share stories based on the following shared beliefs:

  • We believe that sharing stories is absolutely essential to creating a more accepting, inclusive society.
  • We believe that everyone experiences disability differently, even those with blindness and vision loss.
  • We believe in maintaining a strong sense of humor and hope in the face of challenging situations.
  • And we believe in the power of stories to connect, educate, and transform.

Please consider submitting your stories or making suggestions for topics or questions related to blindness, visual impairment, disability, and life in Wisconsin. You can submit your stories or ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Check out the most recent stories from the Outlook From Here:

 

The Unexpected Abilities of a Guide Dog In An Emergency

https://theoutlookfromhere.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/the-unexpected-abilities-of-a-guide-dog-in-an-emergency-situation/

Guide dogs go through rigorous and thorough training, but there are times when unexpected situations arise for which the dog might have had no prior experience.

Janell Groskreutz tells the story of how her guide dog, Sully, remained calm and obedient during an emergency.

 

Adventures Of Fishing In The Blind

https://theoutlookfromhere.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/adventures-of-fishing-in-the-blind/

Many people say they find fishing to be a fun, relaxing hobby. For Gary Traynor and his guide dog, Reuben, a day spent fishing took an unexpected and exciting turn. Read on to find out what they caught!

 

What Disability Has Taught Me About The Limits of Independence

https://theoutlookfromhere.wordpress.com/2018/03/14/what-disability-has-taught-me-about-the-limits-of-independence/

The meanings of words are important. Words shape how we think about people, life circumstances and the events in our lives. They shape our attitudes and our responses to situations. The Council and its Board of Directors took a closer look at its mission, and has made a change that will broaden the attitudes and perceptions of and for people with disabilities in Wisconsin. Annika Konrad explains why she proposed this change and what being truly empowered means to her.