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Dive Deeper into JAWS: Research It, Flexible Web and Speech Manager highlight in March Assistive Technology Workshops

jaws

The JAWS logo features a cartoon image of a shark. It smiles as small curved lines come from its mouth to represent soundwaves.

You can check the weather, find books on Bookshare.org, even get the conversion rates for currency using Research It, the research function within JAWS software. Find out how during our March Assistive Technology class, “Did You Know JAWS Could Do That? Research It, Flexible Web and Speech Manager.”

Jim Denham, Assistive Technology Specialist states that JAWS is a very powerful tool to have in your accessible technology toolbox.

In addition to Research It, Jim will demonstrate the Flexible Web feature within JAWS. This function enables users to customize their web browsing experience, including how to tell JAWS to skip over advertising content.

Users can, for example, customize the Speech Manager function, instructing JAWS to play a sound when a heading or link is encountered on a website. This feature enables screen-reader users navigating the Internet to do so more quickly. Speech Manager can also change the way text is spoken, depending on whether it is bolded, italic or in a different color than the rest of the text in a document. This can make editing and proofreading documents faster and more accurate.

“I use many of these features on a daily basis at home and at work,” Jim says. “I have been a JAWS user for 20 years and have found these functions to be very helpful, especially when I collaborate with sighted coworkers and share edits back-and-forth.”

Another exciting component of JAWS software is the JAWS Tandem function. This allows one JAWS user to give another JAWS user a code they can enter to access that person’s computer. This can be extremely helpful in instances when technical support is needed.

This class will be offered twice: on Wednesday, March 14 at the Council office and again on Tuesday, March 20, by way of the online platform Zoom, which can be accessed via the Internet or a telephone. You will receive instructions on how to access the Zoom room upon registration.

Both March classes are free to attend. Deadline for the March 14 class is Monday, March 12 and for the March 20 Zoom presentation is Friday, March 16. Please call the Council at 800-783-5213 to reserve your spot today!

 

Student Spotlight

Mia Zutter - College of St. Scholastica

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Mia Zutter (right) and guide, Karen Manske (left), pose after skiing the Telemark Trails in Cable, WI. (Photo from www.cxcnewsfeed.wordpress.com)

Mia Zutter is a focused, determined and talented individual. With the encouragement of a supportive family, her vision teacher, friends and coaches, Mia is both an outstanding student and a medal-contending Paralympic athlete.

Mia hales from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. She is currently a freshman at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. She has not yet declared a major, but she says she hopes to become a teacher of the visually impaired.

“Having such an incredible relationship with my teacher of the visually impaired has sparked a great interest for me in becoming the same positive advocate for other students,” she explains.

In 2011, Mia was diagnosed with Stargardts Disease, a degenerative eye condition which has caused her to lose her central vision over the previous six years. As a result of her diagnosis, Mia says she had to give up figure skating, playing the cello and joining her friends on the volleyball team when she was in seventh grade. With the encouragement of her sister, Mia pursued running, and her career as an athlete took off.

“I joined the track team as a seventh grader and immediately fell in love with the sport,” Mia elaborates. “I had found something new I could be successful in, regardless of my disability. I ran with a guide, but still felt independent for the first time since being diagnosed. The following year, I expanded my love of running to cross-country where I found a new set of friends and coaches willing to work with me as an athlete with a visual impairment.”

At the end of Mia’s sophomore season on the cross-country team, the Wisconsin State Journal published an article about her career as an athlete with a visual impairment. The article was seen by members of the Central Cross Country Ski Association (CXC Skiing). The organization works to develop athletes with disabilities into Paralympic hopefuls in the sport of cross-country skiing.

Mia has trained with members of CXC Skiing and after her first year of skiing, was the first visually impaired athlete to compete at the Wisconsin State Championship. She has since qualified for three Cross-Country Skiing World Cups. Mia is currently on the the United States Paralympic Nordic Ski Team at the 2018 Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The competition will take place from March 8-18, with the Nordic skiing events beginning on March 10. Keep up to date with Mia’s involvement with the Winter Games by going to https://www.teamusa.org/para-nordic-skiing/athletes/Mia-Zutter

“Skiing has taught me resilience and determination,” Mia says. “It has provided me with a lifelong passion.”

In addition to skiing on the College of St. Scholastica Ski Team, Mia enjoys swimming, hiking and photography.

 

The Big Share is Coming - Mark Your Calendar for March 6th!

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A promotional image for The Big Share features a group of eight young men and women laying on the grass. They are arrange in a circle with their heads joining in the middle. Over their image is a message that reads “Join Us. 3.6.18/12AM-11:59PM. To learn more, visit THEBIGSHARE.ORG.”

It’s fun, it’s quick, it’s easy to make a difference! It’s The Big Share!

On Tuesday, March 6, become a part of an online day of giving that benefits over 60 local nonprofits. The Big Share is organized by Community Shares of Wisconsin, an organization providing training, fundraising opportunities and support for social justice focused non-profits. The Council is participating in The Big Share to raise funds to provide technology training, white canes and resources for adaptive products for people experiencing vision loss.

A gift of any size, at any time on March 6 would be greatly appreciated. Donations will be accepted through midnight.

While the Big Share takes place all day, consider making an online donation between 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6 at https://www.thebigshare.org/organizations/wisconsin-council-of-the-blind-visually-impaired. It could help us to win additional cash to support our programs!

 

March Dining in the Dark Hosted by New Venue,

Charlies on Main of Oregon

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A black and white photo features an incandescent light bulb attached to a wood frame of a wall. To the left reads, “Dinging in the Dark, A Four Course Dining Experience. March 22, 2018 – 6:30 p.m. – Charlie’s On Main.”

Dining In The Dark is back, and it has a new hosting restaurant: Charlie’s On Main in Oregon, Wisconsin. The owner and chef, Dave Heide, prides himself on providing local, fresh food to his guests. He even goes so far as to list on his menus where the food comes from, and visits every farm before agreeing to purchase the food for his restaurant. He says he is excited to host Dining in The Dark because it makes him feel more connected to his grandmother.

“My grandmother was a famous children's book author. She wrote a book called ‘Sound of Sunshine, Sound of Rain,’ which is about a boy who was blind,” Chef Dave explains. The book was then turned into a short film. “I choose to partner with the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired because the great work they are doing for the blind and visually impaired community reminds me of my grandmothers book.”

As with previous Dining in the Dark events, participants will be blindfolded for the entirety of the meal, though the blindfold can be taken off at any point. Chef Dave says he is eager to find out what this experience will teach him and his staff.

The menu includes a four-course dinner and will not be released beforehand. The mystery of the menu adds to the experiential element, allowing participants to focus on taste and textures without the use of sight. Chef Dave will describe the meal as it comes out of the kitchen.

Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options will be available for all courses. Please email Kirsten from Charlie’s on Main at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any dietary restrictions or questions.

The proceeds from this event will benefit the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired. Tickets are $60 (plus processing fee), with the option to add a wine flight for an additional $20. Ticket price does not include gratuity.

The event will take place on Thursday, March 22, from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Charlie's on Main is located at 113 South Main Street, in Oregon. Visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dining-in-the-dark-tickets-42537615152 to reserve your spot. Act quickly, because these events have been known to sell out fast!

 

Attention Students: Scholarship Application Packets Available Soon

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A graphic includes an image of a pink piggy bank. Three pennies drift in the air towards the bank’s slot. In the background are white starbursts. Underneath the bank reads: “Saving pennies for college? Scholarships available soon!”

If you are a student with a visual impairment, get ready to apply for one of the ten $2,000 scholarships offered by the Council. Scholarship are available for post-secondary students attending two-year college, technical college or four-year university, as well as graduate programs.

“Receiving this scholarship is important to me because it’s enabling me to get an education and improve myself, so I can go out and better the world,” says 2017 scholarship recipient, John Harrison.

John currently studies English at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater.

“I want to make the world a better place; I want to make a difference in the lives of as many people as possible. This scholarship starts me out on that journey.”

Awards will be presented at our annual luncheon on Saturday, May 19, at the Radisson Hotel Ballroom, located at 516 Grand Canyon Drive in Madison.

Continue to watch for more information on the release of the Scholarship Packet and deadlines on our website, in our additional publications and social media!

 

Volunteers Needed: Archivist and Special Event Staff

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A graphic features hands raised in the air from the forearm and up. The arms a featured in different bold colors – magenta, orange, lime green, teal, dark orange and yellow.

Whether you like working quietly in a small group or enjoy mingling and getting to know new people, the Council has volunteer opportunities to consider.

Become an Archivist

As the Council turned 65 in 2017, staff decided it was time to gather documents pertinent to our organization’s history. We are seeking Archivist volunteers to help us sort through literature we have amassed throughout the years. Volunteers are responsible for sorting through paper files and separating them into five-year increments. Afterward, volunteers will work closely with an assigned individual connected with the Council who knows the historical value of the material. The pair will work together to decide if the material will be kept or discarded. The volunteers must be able to read printed text, as the person from the Council will likely be someone who is blind or visually impaired.

Mix and Mingle at Council Special Events

If you have a friendly smile and like talking to people, consider volunteering for the Council during various special events. In this role, you will serve as a greeter, a way-finder for guests, or an assistant at a refreshments table. A typical shift is 2-3 hours and requires standing for most of that time.

To see available volunteer positions, visit our “How You Can Help” webpage on the Council’s website. If you are interested in more information, please contact Heather Buggs at 608-237-8101, or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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 to the Outlook From Here:

The Four Building Blocks for a Successful Guide Dog

Have you ever wondered what goes into determining if a guide dog is eligible for the job? Meghan Whalen lives in Madison and is training her own guide dog. She outlines the four factors required to make a quality service dog.

One Hundred Stories About Living with Blindness and Visual Impairment in Wisconsin

We have reached story 101 on The Outlook From Here! For the 101st story, various writers share what the blog has meant to them.