Main Menu

Explore The Council’s New Sharper Vision Online Store

The Sharper Vision Store website has a fresh look. Updates such as Spanish, reorganization of products into categories, and updated product descriptions and photos enhance the experience of visitors.

WCBVI logo, social media logos, search products bar, Espanol, menu header, “Welcome to the Sharper Visions Store,” green boxes with product categories in white.

The new website makes it easier to find the product you are looking for, with large-button categories and a search bar.

“The overall goals of the project were to improve on the accessibility and the look of our website,” said Justin Lemke, the Council’s former Administrative Program Manager, who played a big role in the process. “We wanted to make the website fully accessible to those who want to buy our products. We wanted to improve the look of the website in keeping with potential and longtime store customers.”

The Stand Magnifiers page displays an image of each item with product information and an “add to cart” and “add to wish list” button.

Website users can view product information and add items to their cart or wish list. Setting up an account ensures your product orders are saved for reorders or exchanges.

DesignCraft Advertising, a Madison-based graphic design and marketing firm, was selected to provide the web development for the project. DesignCraft was selected because they value diversity, sustainability, accessibility and community involvement.

“This was not my first time working with screen-reading software, but working toward both screen-reader accessibility and language translation was new to us,” says Andy White, Director of Technology at DesignCraft Advertising. “Working on those two thing simultaneously was an interesting challenge. As a result of this project, we are incorporating accessible design into every other website we work on from here on out. It is easy enough to do.”

Spanish translation of the store website will happen in three phases. The first phase is complete which means the home page, catalog text and checkout/shopping cart pages are currently available in Spanish. The goal is to have the additional pages translated by the summer of 2019. You can view any pages translated in Spanish by clicking on “Español” in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

“Working with DesignCraft throughout this process was a great experience,” Justin said. “Andy really knows his stuff and at the same time was very responsive to what we wanted.”

To visit the new website, go to


Student Spotlight: Mikyla Mobley

Headshot of Mikyla Mobley

2018 Council scholarship winner Mikyla Mobley is using her visual impairment as an advantage when attaining her career goals. The freshman at Edgewood College is pursuing a degree in psychology with a minor in criminal justice. She sat down with Council staff writer, Katherine Corbett, for a quick chat.

Katherine Corbett: Why did you decide to go to Edgewood College?

Mikyla Mobley: I could see myself coming here because I was tutored on campus while a student at West High School (in Madison). My tutor gave me insight on the campus and the professors.

Katherine: What lessons has your visual impairment taught you?

Mikyla: Through my visual impairment, I have learned empathy for the struggles and challenges other people are working to overcome. I have also learned to take life one day at a time.

Katherine: How do you plan to apply those lessons to the rest of your life?

Mikyla: I want to be a therapist when I am done with college. It is going to be helpful to have an insight on the different experiences people have. I plan to work hard not to judge people for what they go through and try to look at things on the positive side instead of the negative side.

Katherine: Tell me about a person who inspires you.

Mikyla: My older sister inspires me. She has two kids and was a teen mom. She is still trying to further her education and she works hard to achieve her goals. Her story motivates me to keep moving forward.

Katherine: How does the mission of the Council resonate with your own life goals?

Mikyla: Like the Council, I want to be aware of the people who are blind and visually impaired in Wisconsin and try to help them however I can.

Katherine: What is your favorite instrument, sport or hobby? Why?

Mikyla: I love to sing. My instrument is my voice. Singing helps me get through my day. To me, music is life.

Interested in applying for a scholarship from the Council? Awards are $2,000 and the Council will give up to ten scholarships to qualifying candidates. To qualify, a student must be a blind or visually impaired Wisconsin resident, be attending or accepted into a college, university or technical training program, have a 3.0 GPA or better and fully complete and submit all components of the application no later than Friday, April 5, 2019. All qualifying applications will be reviewed by the Council scholarship committee and applicants will be notified in later April. 

Find the Scholarship Application Kit on


2019 Council Events

Put the following events on your calendar and check to stay in the know.

A woman and a man wearing blindfolds hold up wine glasses.

Dining in the Dark

Thursday, March 21 2019, 6:30-9:00 p.m.

Charlie’s On Main, Oregon, Wisconsin

Chef Dave Heide of Charlie’s on Main will serve an Italian-inspired, multi-course meal that challenges participants to rethink the importance of vision in the eating experience. Guests wear blindfolds while dining – experiencing food through sense of smell and hot, cold, crunchy and smooth food textures, as well as a range of local flavors.

Reserve your spot online or call 608-291-2255 for reservations. Dinner costs $60 per person with an optional $20 wine pairing - with proceeds benefiting the Council. Invite your friends and family via Facebook.


Legislative Day

Tuesday, April 9 2019, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Capitol building, Madison

Legislative Day provides an excellent opportunity to open lines of communication between constituents, the Council and the legislature. The day will be spent increasing awareness of issues that affect the BVI community. This involves information sessions with legislators and staff at the Capitol building. If you are interested in attending, email Adam at or call 608-237-8120.


Birding by Ear

Indoor component (choose 1): May 30, 6-8 p.m. or June 1, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. AND Outdoor component (choose 1): June 6, 6-8 p.m. or June 8, 8-10 a.m.

Just as unique as their coloration and shape, bird songs come in all tunes and pitches. Identifying birds by their song is an exciting activity and skill, and any experienced bird watcher will tell you that most birding is done without actually seeing the bird, but by hearing it. This event is co-organized by the Madison Audubon Society.


Council Excellence Awards: Nominate Someone Who Inspires You

Do you know an individual or organization who has made an important contribution in the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired in Wisconsin? Consider nominating them for a Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired Excellence Award.

A group of people stand with some holding awards.

The 2018 Awards Luncheon – winners stand holding their awards.

Last year, the Council was privileged to honor four talented and committed people, who have dedicated time, talent and creativity to this endeavor. 

BJ Blahnik, a bronze medal winner in Blind Sailing International world championships, who worked with SEAS, a sailing program for the visually impaired in Sheboygan, to bring a sailing instructional simulator to Wisconsin. The simulator can be brought around the state and last year, attendees at the Lions Camp for Adults with Vision Loss were able to give it a try.

Danny Cornelius and Lois Miller, who have long histories of running vibrant low vision support groups, which are often a life-line for those experiencing vision loss. Lois worked with the ADRC of Richland County for 30 years and Danny volunteered in his community of Manitowoc for over 40 years.

Julie Hapeman, an orientation and mobility specialist with the Milwaukee Public Schools, who organizes an annual White Cane Day Flash Mob of student dancers. Julie’s efforts also help fundraise for the Council’s White Cane Fund, which distributes free white canes to any Wisconsin resident who is visually impaired or blind.


Award categories include:

  • Community/volunteer service
  • Community partnerships and collaboration
  • Community giving
  • Exceptional accommodations in employment
  • Public service
  • Legislator of the year
  • Louis Seidita – an exemplary award for outstanding volunteer service in the blind and visually impaired community

Find the Excellence Awards Nomination Form on Nominations are due by Friday, April 19. Recipients and nominators are invited to join us for the Council’s annual Scholarship and Awards luncheon in Madison on Saturday, May 18. Reach out with any questions and send completed nomination forms to


Thank You for Giving During The Big Share

The Council thanks all donors who made The Big Share a success. We raised $4,401 throughout the week of Tuesday, March 5. This online day of giving was presented by Community Shares of Wisconsin.

Fifty-seven people donated to the Council via The Big Share, including Council staff, friends and supporters. Board members agreed to match all donations between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.– which amounted in $650 being matched. Throughout the day we shared messages about the Council’s advocacy efforts – which seek to empower individuals who are BVI living throughout Wisconsin. Donations fund our legislative advocacy, vision services and educational programming. As a result of our efforts, we won a Power Hour for the most donors in a single hour between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. – resulting in an extra $750 for the Council from the National Guardian Life Insurance Foundation.

We extend a special thank you to our early donors, who gave prior to The Big Share. Early donors were board members, Tim Davis, Neil and Peggy Ford, and Julianne Suleski.

“We give because of our mother,” says Julianne Suleski Lind, “who has served this community for the past 20 years. The work the Council does is imperative to those who live with blindness, and brings light back to those who live in the dark.”

2019 was the fifth year the Council participated in The Big Share, along with 70 local nonprofits. Community Shares of Wisconsin raised $453,000 from 3,341 donors.

Whatever amount you gave and whenever you submitted your gift, we thank you for your support. The giving day highlights the importance of many people helping, even in small ways, to reach our goals. You are actively making a difference in the lives of those who are blind or visually impaired.


Register for Legislative Day: Make your Voice Heard

To be part of the conversation and make your voice heard, attend Legislative Day on Tuesday, April 9.

A group of Legislative Day attendees sit around a table.

Legislative Day 2018 attendees and legislators.

It is vital for legislators to have interactions with people who have lived experiences. Your unique perspective could provide the impetus needed for a legislator to vote in favor of increased transportation funding, or for loan forgiveness for vision services professionals. The Council’s Legislative Day provides an excellent opportunity to open lines of communication between constituents and the legislature.

“I am inspired each year to attend the Council’s Legislative Day because I never wish to pass up the chance to begin to build a relationship with a legislator or member of staff,” says Rhonda Staats, Council Board Secretary and Legislative Committee Chair. “It is important to bring the Council's legislative priorities forward to key personnel who may not have considered state programs and services from the perspective of a person who is blind or visually impaired.”

Attendees will meet in the Capitol at 10 a.m. for a legislative briefing and updates from various groups. Lunch will be served at around noon, and after lunch we will embark on visits with legislators. The day concludes with a debriefing and adjournment at 3 p.m.

If you are interested in attending, email Adam at or call 608-237-8120. The cost for the day is $10 and includes a lunch, coffee and snacks. Register by Monday, March 25.