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On Sight: November 2014
November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Bidding against Blindness

Support the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired by bidding on items during our online auction!

If you’ve never participated in an online auction, here’s how it works. Log on to that are up for bid are divided into categories. Choose the category you’re interested in, or browse all the items. To place a bid, you will need to enter your credit or debit card information. Be assured that nothing will be charged to your card unless you are the highest bidder when the auction closes on November 19th.

You will be notified by email if someone outbids you. Return to the auction website frequently to increase your bid or to bid on other items.

Bidding ends Wednesday, November 19. As the deadline for bidding approaches, check the items that interest you frequently so you don’t miss out. You will be notified on November 19 if you were the highest bidder on any items.

If you have questions about the auction, call Lori at 608-237-8114 or send an email to

Thank you to the businesses and individuals who donated auction items.  Your generosity makes this auction a fun and fund-filled event! 

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services, diabetes affects more than 475,000 adults and 4,500 children and adolescents in Wisconsin.  It is the seventh leading cause of death in Wisconsin, costing an estimated annual $6.15 billion in health care costs and lost productivity.

Each year, more than 1,100 Wisconsin residents die from diabetes and many more suffer disabling complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and amputations. This burden is higher among diverse populations. Much of the health and economic burden of diabetes can be averted through known prevention measures.

The Wisconsin Diabetes Prevention and Control Program (DPCP) is dedicated to improving the health of people at risk for or with diabetes.

Find helpful resources at

White Cane Safety Day Celebrates the Gifts of People Who Have Vision Loss and Promotes Pedestrian Safety

On Wednesday, October 15, the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired joined hundreds of organizations and individuals around the country who celebrated the 50th anniversary of White Cane Safety Day.  

Education is a very important aspect of this observance.  In partnership with the Council, the Madison Police Department conducted an educational enforcement activity at the corner of two often-traveled streets near our building.  The officer handed out Braille bookmarks and an informational brochure about the White Cane Law and penalties for disobeying it, plus tips to help ensure pedestrian safety for people who are blind or visually impaired. The 22 drivers the officer stopped expressed appreciation for the police department’s role in this awareness-raising effort.  

Vision Symposium Highlights Research and Resources
By Virginia DeBlaey, Vision Rehabilitation Teacher

On October 8, more than 400 people from around the state of Wisconsin attended the Saving Sight Symposium at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. The event was sponsored by the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and UW Health and Unity Health Insurance.

The program was divided into two major segments.  The morning presentations covered Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), and the afternoon presentations provided information about Diabetic Retinopathy. Throughout the day, there were also several vendors demonstrating their products and services.

Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among people 65 and older. Dr. Suresh Chandra welcomed the audience and summarized the type of material to be presented by faculty members, physicians and researchers. Topics included an update on current treatment of wet AMD, genetics and AMD, and the current status of AMD research. Neil Ford, a Council Board member who has AMD, and Marshall Flax, the Council's Certified Low Vision Therapist gave presentations about vision rehabilitation and what it's like to live with macular degeneration. Additional topics included nutrition, stem cell research and patient advocacy.

The afternoon session was devoted to Diabetic Retinopathy with the same types of presentations that covered treatment, research and rehabilitation.

The presenters were easy to listen to and they explained their topics in such a way that everyone could understand the information. The symposium was free, and it provided a unique opportunity to talk with leaders in the field of treatment, research and vision rehabilitation. Attendees appreciated that the presenters were available for individual questions at the end of each session, during breaks, and at lunch.

The Council and UW Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences have offered these vision symposia for several years, and each one seems to get even better.

Keep in touch with the Council, and make plans to attend the next vision symposium. It's well worth your time!

What is Giving Tuesday?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday focus on buying material goods for yourself and for those on your holiday gift list.  Giving Tuesday, on December 2,  reminds us to share our blessings with others by making a donation to a nonprofit organization.

Giving Tuesday is a national day of giving—a reminder to look beyond the physical holiday preparations to the causes that are important to you.  The Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired encourages that philanthropic spirit in all of us, and we ask that you consider making a gift to the Council on December 2.

Giving is easy at

Thank you!

Sharper Vision Store Highlight for November

 Giant View Low Vision Wall Clock with White Face

Giant View Low Vision Wall Clock with White Face


  • •   Measures approximately 10 inches wide by 12.4 inches high
  • •   Nearly 1.75 inches high bold, black numbers
  • •   Bold black hour and minute hands
  • •   Uses one AA battery (not included)

When you call the Sharper Vision Store at 608-237-8100, ask about Item # TL201.  You can also shop 24/7 from the comfort of your home when you visit

National Philanthropy Day

November 15 is National Philanthropy Day. It is both an official day, since first proclaimed by President Reagan in 1986, and a grassroots movement to increase interest in and awareness of the importance of philanthropy.

Philanthropy is defined as “the love of humankind.” That translates into a celebration of giving, volunteering and engaging with charitable organizations like the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired. On Philanthropy Day, we celebrate accomplishments – big and small – that philanthropy adds to our world.

Thank you to the Council’s “philanthropists” who give of themselves through financial gifts and volunteer hours. You are making the world a better place for people who have vision loss.

“It was kind of like being pushed out of the nest”
Patti Found a Way to Fly after her Vision Loss

It all started when Patti Ligman, a young mother, lost the central and peripheral vision in her right eye.  At first, doctors couldn’t identify the cause, but later she was diagnosed with Ocular Histoplasmosis.  The disease is caused by a fungus that can grow in bird feces.  Patti had lived on a chicken farm, and she unwittingly breathed in the dangerous spores. “I became a one-eyed driver and for almost 30 years, I was fine.  Then when I turned 50, I noticed something in my left eye.”  A retinal specialist confirmed that the disease was back, this time in her other eye.  It had been dormant all those years.

“My initial reaction was fear.  I had seen other people become isolated after they lost significant vision, and I didn’t want it to be that way for me.”  Sitting on the porch and feeling sorry for herself, Patti almost didn’t pick up the phone when it rang.  On the other end was a voice that would change her life.  Susan Dachelet from the Office for the Blind & Visually Impaired said to Patti, “I’m here to help you.”  Turns out, Patti’s optometrist “saw that there was a person beyond my eye disease” and he told Susan about her situation.

Patti is grateful to Susan for many things, including the assistive products that “opened up a new world for me.”  Thanks to Susan’s gentle nudging, Patti finally agreed to check out the Lions Summer Camp.  Now a regular attendee, Patti reflects, “It’s a week of utter joy!  The people at this camp understand me, and you hear about all the things that you CAN do, not the things you can’t.”  An avid crafter, Patti makes and donates beaded jewelry to the Lions Summer Camp as a way of giving back for all that she has received from this experience.  The camp keeps 100% of the profits from sales of her jewelry.

Over the years, Patti has found lots of items in the Council’s Sharper Vision Store that help her manage daily activities and interests.  She especially likes the 20/20 pens, talking clocks and watches, calculator and pedometer.  “I’ve visited the store and I tell others about the helpful products.  Right now, I’m mentoring a young girl who has Retinitis Pigmentosa.  I made sure she knows about the Council and the store.”

In 2007, Patti received a guide dog.  “Lily is a wonderful companion.  Thanks to her guidance, I can walk upright again.”

Patti exudes a deep attitude of gratitude.  “You have to help others when you have received help yourself.”  She recalls receiving a call from a quilting instructor.  One of her students was diagnosed with macular degeneration and the student thought her life was over.  The teacher asked Patti if she would talk to this person and tell her about available resources.  “Of course, I said I would.  I brought my trusty suitcase that’s filled with products like 20/20 pens, large print items, and magnifiers.  I’m happy to say that this woman is still quilting!”

Patti’s area Lions Club asked her to speak to their group.  From there, she added annual presentations to second graders at the local school.  “I tell them, ‘I’m differently abled.’  They see how I do things, and a light of understanding and awareness seems to go on in their heads.”

A cause that’s near and dear to Patti’s heart is transportation for people who can’t drive because of their age, health or disability.  “Isolation can be desolating,” she remarked.  She served on a Long Term Support Board in Sturgeon Bay where she lives, and she helped raise awareness of the need for better transportation resources.  At the time, only a taxi system was available in the area.  Today, the “Door to Door” program has expanded beyond Sturgeon Bay to include the majority of Door County, and rides are available in the evenings and on weekends.  “This service has totally changed the lives of people who can’t drive,” she noted.

Looking back on her own journey, Patti reflected, “Losing vision as you age is a blow that’s hard to recover from—especially when you experience the loss of your independence.  In my own case, I had to be pushed at first—kind of like a bird being thrown out of the nest.  I decided to learn about vision resources, get involved in new activities, connect with different people, and help others.  You can make your life what you want it to be.”

We think Patti has made her life a full and fulfilling one!

Office Closure for the Holidays

The Council office and the Sharper Vision Store will be closed on November 27, November 28, December 24, December 25, December 26, December 31, 2014 and January 1, 2015.