To most sighted people, a white cane has a simple meaning: the person holding the cane is blind. But for the user, the meaning is more complex and personal. The cane, for many users, represents—and enables—independence. Each year, the Council’s White Cane Fund campaign pays for hundreds of white canes to be given away free to users all over Wisconsin. For the Council, the white cane has become a symbol for the many tools that support the dignity and empowerment of people living with vision loss.
In that spirit, the White Cane appeal has evolved from an effort to raise funds specifically for canes to a campaign for gifts that can support all of the Council’s core activities, including our advocacy efforts.
For example, the Council constantly advocates for better transportation options for non-drivers. From working with local governments to install accessible pedestrian signals to pushing for increased funding for specialized transportation in rural communities, the Council, along with our allies and coalition partners, is leading the charge on these issues. And our advocacy is getting results.
Council staff spends hundreds of hours working to change systems today that will benefit people with vision loss years into the future. Much of the advocacy groundwork taking place now may take years to pay off in systemic change, but that idea of paying it forward keeps us motivated. Transportation is just one example. We continually work with state and local officials on public health policy, voting equity, fair employment and access to information.
Gifts to the Council enable this work—work that’s happening every day.
Jeff Williamson recognizes the work. The retired UW-Madison Economics professor says he’s benefited from the Council’s services in multiple ways. Since his macular degeneration diagnosis in 2006, Jeff has been a Sharper Vision Store customer and has become more skilled with access technology. Home visits by Council Vision Services professionals have helped him with safety measures.
“Just to have this resource nearby is fantastic,” Jeff says. “People are so knowledgeable. I feel very lucky.” Jeff said he also felt less alone in his vision loss journey after connecting with the Council. “Talking with people there tended to ease the pain a great deal. You’re losing an important part of your life, but there are lots of other things left and they tell you that you can press on,” Jeff says. His experience with Council staff led to his decision to become a donor.
The Council is grateful for Jeff’s support, and for all the generous gifts we receive during our White Cane Appeal. They are the fuel on which the Council runs.
You can make a secure gift to the White Cane Fund by on our website at WCBlind.org/donate.