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Central Wisconsin Low Vision Fair Coming Soon: Friday, August 12

 

Low Vision Fair 8 16

Last year’s Fox Valley Low Vision Fair was a great success with over 100 people in attendance.

 

Plan to attend the Central Wisconsin Low Vision Fair on Friday, August 12!

The Central Wisconsin Low Vision Fair will feature the latest products for persons with low vision, and attendees can also talk to industry leaders. In addition, speakers will be available to discuss accessibility issues.

Join us on August 12 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Wausau Labor Temple, located at 318 S. Third Avenue, in Wausau. 

A variety of vendors will be displaying their products during the fair. Both low and high-tech products for persons with low vision will be on hand. Wausau area businesses that provide services for people with disabilities and seniors will be also be represented at the fair. 

Four featured speakers will hold listening and break-out sessions. Come join us for this free event and a chance to win a door prize!

More information can be found on our website, www.wcblind.org, or call Jean Kalscheur at 608-237-8106.

Join the Council for an Important Webinar Focused on Driving Cessation on August 17

August Webinar image

The deadline is quickly approaching to sign up for our next webinar focused on driving cessation. Make sure to sign up today! 

Are you thinking about giving up driving or struggling to find ways to talk to loved ones about stepping away from the driver’s seat? Deciding when to stop driving can be a very crucial life decision.

Join the Council for our next webinar, “When to Stop Driving and How to Talk to Your Loved Ones About It,” on Wednesday, August 17, from 11 a.m. to noon. This presentation will provide supportive guidance for individuals trying to make the difficult decision of relinquishing the wheel. The webinar will also provide ways adult children can discuss this topic with parents in a sensitive manner.

Don’t hesitate to join us on August 17. One hour of information could be vital to the safety of you and others. Register on our website at www.wcblind.org and click on the “Events” tab.

Dining in the Dark Experience Coming to Madison in September

VDC Dining in the Dark

Vignette Dining Club is partnering with the Council to host “Dining in the Dark” September 17 and 18 in Madison.

Vignette Dining Club is very proud and excited to be partnering with the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired for “Dining in the Dark.” This limited-seating engagement will be held Saturday, September 17, and Sunday, September 18.  This experiential dinner will challenge participants to rethink the importance of vision in the food experience as guests will be blindfolded for the entirety of the meal.

Saturday, September 17 ‑ 7-10 p.m.
Sunday, September 18 – 1-4 p.m.

$70 per person (includes gratuity)

Vignette Dining Club is generously donating all profits from both dinners to the Council.

To get your tickets and to learn more details, visit http://vignettedining.com/the-menu.html (scroll down a few pages). Please let them know about any food allergies or special dietary restrictions when you make your reservation. The menu is based on ingredients that are seasonal and fresh, so it goes through a changing and growing process up until the last day. No worries; Vignette Dining Club will e-mail the finalized menu, along with directions to the secret location, the day of the event.

Mark Your Calendars for Saving Sight Symposium on October 27

Symposium logo

The “Saving Sight Symposium” returns to Madison this fall.

Don’t miss your chance to learn about the latest advances in and treatments for Macular Degeneration. Make plans to join us for the Saving Sight Symposium on Thursday, October 27, at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

The UW School of Medicine and Public Health – Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, UW Health Opthamologists and an expert panel of speakers, will discuss current research, important issues, tools and solutions for those facing vision loss from Macular Degeneration.

 

The Symposium will also feature exhibitors who will display the latest in video magnifiers, computer aids and other resources. Representatives from the UW School of Nursing will provide age-related health screenings, free of charge.

 

Don’t wait to reserve your spot! Register at www.uwhealth.org/SavingSight2016 or call the Council office at 1-800-783-5213. There is no cost to attend. Deadline is Friday, October 21,

or when seating capacity of 1,000 is reached.

 

Deadline Approaching to Apply for Position on Council Board of Directors

 

Board members

 

Board members Rhonda Staats and Chris Richmond put their passion and talents to use at Legislative Day.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to be a part of the Council, there could be a position for you on our Board of Directors.

The Council has four openings for Board of Directors’ terms beginning in January 2017. All board terms run for three years, ending on December 31, 2019. Deadline to apply for a position on our board is Monday, September 12.

As a member of our Board of Directors, you will play an important role in developing the direction and policies for a premier organization serving Wisconsin residents who are blind and visually impaired.

All applicants must be residents of Wisconsin and have a central visual acuity not exceeding 20/70 in the better eye, with best correction.  Members must be able to attend four quarterly, face-to-face Council meetings each year, plus additional conference calls or in-person meetings.  Board members must also serve on at least one Council committee.  All committee work and meetings are in addition to the Council’s quarterly meetings. 

 

Applicants must have reliable access to a computer and an email address, be able to open and read MS Word and Excel attachments, and be able to reply to electronic communications.

A position on the board is a volunteer service, but it also requires a strong commitment.  It is essential that applicants understand that they must respond to or follow through with requests from fellow board members, the Executive Director, or Council staff, since this is how the Council conducts business. 

 

On the application, candidates will be asked why they wish to serve the Council and to list their skill sets as they relate to the Council’s mission and strategic priorities. Candidates should be able to discuss what the Council’s mission means to them and share perceptions regarding the service needs and concerns of people who are blind or visually impaired. Candidates should list their education, work experience, skills and other abilities relative to the Council’s programs and services.  Community outreach is an important function of being a Council Board member, so, if you enjoy meeting new people, presenting to groups and promoting the Council by telling our story, we look forward to receiving your application.

 

The Council encourages anyone to complete the board application process if he or she has the skills and desire to advocate, as well as help direct policy and activities for the Council. Board application materials are available on our website, www.wcblind.org, under the “Who We Are” tab.

Celebrate White Cane Safety Day with Help from the Council

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Organizing a community event such as a walk in recognition of White Cane Safety Day is a wonderful way to build awareness in your community. Learn more through our free “White Cane Safety Day Resource Toolkit.”

White Cane Safety Day is fast approaching and the Council has created a resource tool kit to help your organization celebrate on October 15.

This step-by-step guide helps organizations create an event, organize a celebration, or bring awareness of white cane usage to the communities they serve. The resource tool kit can be shared with schools, low vision support groups, Lions Clubs and other service organizations who work with or support people with low vision or blindness.

A grant from the Shopko Foundation will allow the kits to be mailed and distributed statewide.

To learn more about our resource kits, contact Lori Werbeckes, Fund Development Director, at 608-237-8114 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Show You Care

Tribute

Tributes and memorial gifts are a special way to recognize your loved ones impacted by the Council.

Tribute gifts are a meaningful way to say “you are special” to a friend or loved one. As we go through the year celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other special days, you might be searching for a unique gift to make the occasion extra special. A gift to the Council in their honor might be that perfect gift! Your donation would be a thoughtful way to acknowledge the person’s significance in your life and their special occasion.

Memorial gifts offer a caring gesture to family members when a loved one passes away. Friends and family will appreciate your thoughtfulness in wanting to continue the person’s good works after they are gone.

Memorials we received recently were accompanied by a letter from the donor’s son. “Before my father died, one of his wishes was for the Council to receive his memorials. After he passed, I learned that my father had consistently contributed to your worthy organization for many years. And while it was not a great sum of money, he quietly continued to make donations up to the time of his death. I know his spirit and caring are in harmony with the Council’s mission.”

As you plan ahead, mention to your family members that you would like your memorial gifts to go to the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired. Your loved ones will be happy to know and fulfill your wishes.

To make a gift to WCBVI, donate online at www.wcblind.org or mail your check to 754 Williamson St., Madison, WI  53703. Call Lori at (608)237-8114 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions.

Some Uncontroversial Thoughts on Voting – By Katherine Schneider

A blog post currently featured on “The Outlook From Here”

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Alternative ways of voting are possible for people who are visually impaired.

I’m blind and the first time I ever voted by myself in 2006, I cried.

To me, having a secret ballot is part of what it means to be an American. At every election before 2006, and the advent of the Help America Vote Act, I had to have a friend mark the ballot for me or one Democratic official and one Republican official help me.  I’m sure my friends and the officials were ethical and didn’t tell the world whom I voted for, but it just didn’t feel like a secret ballot. 

In response to a Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition survey of 423 Wisconsin residents with disabilities, their families and caregivers, nearly 7 percent reported challenges at the polls or believed they were unable to vote in the most recent election.

Survey respondents reported that they did not even attempt to vote because they believed they didn’t have a valid photo ID or would have to cast a provisional ballot due to photo ID or registration issues. Others reported having trouble getting transportation to their polling place or issues at their polling place because of photo ID requirements or interpretation of the law’s requirements by poll workers.

In an informal survey I conducted, voters who are blind and visually impaired described voting absentee, voting by using sighted assistance and by using the “handicapped” machine. Blind Wisconsinites mention transportation issues, discomfort asking for help or difficulty using the “handicapped” machine and occasional poorly-trained election officials and balky machines. 

One woman who is blind said her main advice to voters who are blind and visually impaired is “be ready to be patient.” If the machine doesn’t talk, the election officials may well have to text a repair person to come ASAP to fix it. As the handicapped machine reads through all the choices, before one can make a selection, take a deep breath. If you want to do a write-in, take a couple deep breaths before figuring out how to do the name using the keys on a number pad and hope it’s a short name.

Another issue is getting information about local candidates and accessibly issues in a timely fashion, especially if you do an absentee ballot. They are often due before the information comes out in the local paper, which may or may not be accessible to you through Newsline or on the Internet.

If you do experience voting difficulties that patience, working with local polling officials and deep breathing do not fix, you can call the Disability Rights Wisconsin voting hotline at 1-800-928-8778.

Please vote. As a wonderful old lobbyist friend of mine says: “If you’re not at the table, you may well be on the menu.” Those issues and candidates you care about need your vote. Blindness-related organizations like the American Council of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind have legislative agendas, as do disability rights organizations like Crip the Vote. More information about Crip the Vote is available at: http://tinyurl.com/jqs4atv.

If you have not voted as a person who is visually impaired or blind before, try voting at the August 9 primary when there are fewer voters and a short ballot. See you at the polls!

Children’s Eye Health Month Places Spotlight on What to Look for if Your Child is Struggling with Low Vision

 

Childrens Eye Health and Safety Month

 This infographic shows that one in four school-aged children has vision problems. Learn more specifically about what to do with children struggling with low vision.

 

As parents prepare to send their children back to school this fall, there are many items to check off the to-do list. Unfortunately, reviewing a child’s eye health is one that is often overlooked. 

But there are signs parents can look for to determine if their child has a visual impairment and tips that can help make learning more enjoyable.

Kathy Bonesho, Therapy Manager with the Vision Forward Association in Milwaukee, said there are several cues parents can utilize to identify if their child has low vision at an early age.

“They may notice changes in how they’re using their vision, like if they’re bringing objects close to their face or if their eyes are turning in and out as they try to focus on the object,” Bonesho said. “Another sign to look for is if they’re squinting or blinking excessively or not blinking at all, and if they’re rubbing their eyes.”

Bonesho said twinges and rapid eye movements are also a sign of low vision, along with the appearance a child may be looking through people or objects. Bonesho said young children having difficulty with their vision may show signs of being uninterested in activities or display visual fatigue.

“They may show signs of frustration and knock items off tables,” Bonesho said. “If they’re tilting their head to one side, that could also be a sign because they’re often using their vision out of one eye.”

She noted that it’s important for children to take frequent breaks from activities to rest their eyes. Parents, caregivers or teachers can help by reducing visual clutter so children have an easier ability to focus on one object.

In the classroom or at home, a child’s seat can be adjusted to reduce glare from sunlight, room lighting or computer screens. Bonesho said teachers can tilt a board or easel to prevent glare. Using a slanted desktop is another way to help children see better in the classroom.

“It’s also a good idea to use large print and you don’t always have to use paper with a white background,” Bonesho said. “Using a different color can help students see an object better because it has a contrasted background.”

For children who are blind or have very low vision, parents can create predictable landmarks in the home that allow them to safely move from room-to-room.

“If you construct changes to the surface of a room, it lets them know what room they’re moving into,” Bonesho offered.

Outside the home, wind chimes placed near the house can alert a child with vision loss that he or she is close to the entryway. A well-organized home is also important. Having specific places where items are kept can increase children’s independence and confidence.

“If parents notice any of these signs, it’s really important to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist or a pediatrician, according to Bonesho. “Their vision could be helped by having the right prescription glasses.”

Contact the Council to Display your Artwork at Gallery Night

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Showcase your talents during Fall Gallery Night, as pottery artist Judith Rasmussen did during last year’s event.

Are you an artist who is blind or visually impaired and want an opportunity to showcase your work? The Council is looking for you to be featured at Gallery Night on Friday, October 7.

In partnership with the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA), the Council is joining several downtown Madison businesses to feature the work of local and regional artists.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to share and discuss your artwork at this year’s event. To participate, contact Justin Lemke at 608-237-8119 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sharper Vision Store Product Feature: Optelec Compact 5 HD Magnifier

August On Sight product feature

In high definition, you can read from glossy magazines, letters, displays or price tags in both the lowest and widest continuous magnification range available. To meet your specific needs, each low vision setting can be customized and saved through a special, large icon menu. This product is a great replacement for the traditional optical magnifier.

Specifications include:

  • Continuous magnification of 1.5X to 18X
  • 8 mega-pixel high definition and auto-focus camera for sharp, clear image quality
  • 5-inch high definition widescreen display
  • Two ergonomic positions: Closed for on-the-go, or raised screen for perfect angle and a steady position
  • 4 times increased field of view compared to traditional electronic hand-held magnifiers
  • 3 times higher resolution quality at all magnification levels
  • Patented indirect camera lighting system to eliminate glare when reading glossy materials
  • Large icon menu to save user settings
  • 16 high-contrast viewing modes and adjustable brightness
  • Snapshot/freeze frame with continuous zoom capability
  • Portable and lightweight at only 10.4 ounces
  • 3-hour rechargeable battery; large icon battery status
  • Leather carrying case and wrist strap (included)

Item # PCCTV 3, $895.00 – ON SALE NOW for $595

Contact Store Manager Brent Perzentka at 608-237-8105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.