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On Sight: December 2016

Reinvigorating Conversation around Transportation as We Collaborate to “Arrive Together”

By Denise Jess, CEO/Executive Director

Arrive Together

Representing the Council at the December 3 “Arrive Together” Summit include (from left to right): Heather Buggs, Jean Kalscheur, Justin Lemke, Loretta Himmelsbach, and Denise Jess. Seated: Chad Nelson.

Accessible and affordable public transportation is of primary importance to people with vision loss as it impacts every aspect of our lives; employment, access to healthcare, activities of daily living and even social connections.  We share these concerns with citizens throughout Wisconsin, including people with other disabilities, individuals with lower economic means, the elderly and those concerned with the environmental impact of personal vehicle traffic.  With hope to reinvigorate important conversation and positive action, the Council is honored to serve as a sponsor for “Arrive Together: Building a 21st Century Transportation System for Wisconsin,” a grassroots coalition-building effort among many diverse groups throughout the state, including our participation in the December 3 Summit in Milwaukee.

Employment access is strongly tied to the need for accessible and affordable public transportation.  When there are limited alternatives for getting from home to work, the job options are reduced even further for already vulnerable populations.  In some cases, workers incur added costs, because of the need to use a private ride service like a cab or pay a personal driver. 

When engaging in daily living activities, like going to the doctor, the bank or to the grocery store, people in need of public transportation access face these same challenges, often limiting the frequency for which they might seek medical care and where they can shop.  Access to transportation may even be a powerful force in choosing where to live, driving some into costlier neighborhoods with walkable services and in other cases to less stable neighborhoods that are on a transportation line.

People with vision loss are often dependent on the generosity of family, friends and acquaintances for transportation assistance.  This tends to be very stressful for the individual asking for the ride and can be challenging to the relationship.  From my own experience and in listening to the stories of others, a great deal of thought goes into considering who to ask, entertaining questions about how frequently we’ve asked for someone’s help, the specifics of the trip in length, distance and complexity.  Additionally, we need to consider our personal safety and well-being with anyone who serves as our driver.

While situations differ, the need for accessible and affordable public transportation options exist rurally, in small towns, suburbs and in urban areas.  Additionally, there is a need for accessible transportation linking communities.  This is why initiatives such as Arrive Together are a meaningful way for diverse groups to collaborate.  Multiple voices at the table, advocating for a unified cause have the potential to impact legislation and policy that move us to greater access and equity.

Please continue to watch the Council’s publications in the coming weeks for more information on the Arrive Together initiative, other transportation information pertaining to people with visual disabilities and ways that you can get involved.     

Goyke to Leave After Three Decades as Council Lobbyist


Gary Goyke poses for a photo with his mother Adeline (now deceased) in May 2007. Goyke will leave the Council this month after 30 years of service.

After devoting more than 30 years of service, Gary Goyke has decided to step away from his role as lobbyist with the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired.

Gary first became our advocate at the State Capitol in 1983. However, Gary’s involvement with the Council goes back to the mid-1970s when he formed a bond with Herb Pitz, one of the Council’s founders. Herb’s background in Winnebago County politics helped Gary win a state senate seat in 1974.

“Herb introduced me to the Council’s mission and worked hard to advance issues that affected our visually impaired community in their day-to-day lives,” Gary said.

In the past 33 years, Gary has enjoyed working with several of our executive directors, including Stan Nelson, Jack Malin, Richard Pomo, Karen Majkrzak, and Loretta Himmelsbach. Gary said he was proud to work with current Executive Director Denise Jess during his final months as our lobbyist.

“All of these great directors have contributed to the growth and success of the Council, and all were committed to a strong and vibrant advocacy program,” Gary said.

Loretta Himmelsbach said that, while working with Gary during her six years with the Council, she witnessed first-hand his passion for advocacy.

“Gary was instrumental in opening doors and making connections. Gary’s collaborations with other nonprofits whose visions align with the Council’s have behooved us to forge advocacy in a number of issues, including transportation accessibility, advocating for accessible post-secondary textbooks, and promoting protections for owners of guide dogs who are injured or killed by another animal,” Loretta said. “His heart is truly with the Council and the legislative process.”

Since beginning his lobbyist role, Gary has promoted the efforts of the Wisconsin Center of the Blind & Visually Impaired, worked alongside with the Randolph Sheppard Vendors, supported programs for veterans who are blind, Braille advocates, vision services in libraries, amongst other programs and service groups.

“I am proud to have been a part of the interactions with these groups and many of their leaders,” Gary said.

Gary states that the future of his career is more about transition rather than retirement. He plans to continue to work in public policy while living out his passion for helping others.

The Council wishes Gary continued success and thanks him for his support all these years!


Give Back through Amazon Smile Program

Amazon Smile

Amazon Smile offers a way to give back while doing your online shopping.

Do you do your online shopping through If so, all of your purchases can make a difference to the Council! Here’s how:

Instead of logging in at, go to When signing in, you will be prompted to designate your charity of choice to receive .5 percent of your purchases at no additional cost every single time you shop. The program is also available for Amazon Prime users!

Amazon Smile is available year round, not just during the holiday season. For more information or to start your shopping now, go to!


Don’t forget about our Sharper Vision Store this Holiday Season

Sharper Vision Store

Our Sharper Vision Store offers a wide array of products that make for great gifts!

Are you looking for the perfect gift for yourself or someone else with vision loss? Our Sharper Vision Store has a wide array of items for you to consider. Many of our items are great for fully sighted individuals as well!

Store Manager Brett Perzentka offers some of our most popular items in our 2016 Holiday Gift Giving Guide. Looking for additional ideas? Make sure to check out our website or stop at our Madison store located at 754 Williamson Street for more personalized service.

Our December featured item is the MoKo Portable Dimmable LED Desk Lamp (Item # LA140 $27.00).

  • This Desktop LED lamp is pleasant on the eyes with flicker-free lighting for your kids reading and studying at home or at school, creating warm and soft atmosphere.
  • Touch-sensitive control dimmable lamp, just touch your finger to adjust brightness!
  • Fully adjustable design features tilting arm (90 degree flexible) with 180 degree vertical adjustable lamp head that gives the perfect angle every time.
  • Built in 1000mAh rechargeable Lithium Battery (Power Adapter is NOT INCLUDED). With over-voltage, over-charge and short circuit protection to ensure a safe charging experience. It can last lighting 3.5 hours (for the strongest light) and 6 hours (for the weakest light) in the state of full power. Convenient for outdoor use at night.
  • Economical and Environmentally Friendly: These power-saving LEDs last over 50,000 hours. Solid base with non-slip material ensures strong overall stability.

Our Store is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Strategies for Fun and Accessible Cooking:

Holding onto the Joy of Cookbooks

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

By Annika Konrad

Blog Cookbooks

The image shows a row of colorful cookbooks displayed on a white bookshelf at Annika Konrad’s home. The cookbooks encompass a wide-range of cooking styles, tastes and genres, from Swedish cake-baking to Mediterranean cuisine and it also features classic recipes from Julia Child to innovative cooking techniques from Jamie Oliver. The variety of cookbooks highlight Annika’s joy in discovering new recipes from around the world, along with creative and accessible ways to cook.

I love cooking and I love cookbooks even more. Since losing more of my vision, I’ve stopped being able to read pretty much all print material, cookbooks included. I’m a cook who needs new inspiration every once in a while, and looking through a shiny new cookbook with lots of pictures has always been one of my greatest past times. Since switching to reading everything on screens using magnification, I’ve had to decide—do I order the Kindle version of the cookbook or stick to the print version? Here are a couple strategies I’ve developed to keep the joy of heavy, thick, photo-filled cookbooks in my life.

Most recipes published in cookbooks are available online if you search for them. So I’ll spend time flipping through some of my favorite cookbooks, Jerusalem, Plenty, and Great Food Fast, and when I’ve found a recipe that looks amazing in the photo and from the title, I search for it online. If I can find it, I download it to an app on my phone called Paprika. I am convinced that Paprika is the single most helpful app I’ve ever used. You can download recipes from online, select the ingredients you need to buy at the store, and it will compile a grocery list based on your selections and organize them by section. Then, when you’re cooking, if you leave the recipe open, your screen will remain lit up so you don’t have to touch it with your dirty cooking fingers. Once I have the recipe in Paprika, I’ll never have to try to read the printed recipe in the cookbook or search for it online, but I can still enjoy flipping through the pages and looking for new recipes. If I can’t find the recipe online, I’ll settle for using the magnifier app on my phone called Spectacles, which works well but can get clumsy when you have to be using your hands to cook.

Here’s one of many favorite recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi, author of Plenty and Jerusalem, two cookbooks I love to hold.

Chickpea, Tomato, and Bread Soup


1 large onion, sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
about 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled, cut lengthways in half and sliced
3 celery sticks, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato purée
I cup white wine
1 14-oz can Italian plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoon caster sugar
34 ounces vegetable stock
3 to 4 slices of stale sourdough bread (crust removed)
1 14-ounce can freshly cooked chickpeas (canned are fine too) 
4 tablespoon basil pesto (bought or freshly made; see Royal potato salad, page 20)
handful of shredded basil leaves to serve (optional)
salt and black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the onion and fennel in a large saucepan, add 3 tablespoons of the oil and sauté on a medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and continue cooking for 4 minutes, just to soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato purée and stir as you cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and let it bubble away for a minute or two.
Next, add the canned tomatoes with their juices, the herbs, sugar, vegetable stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover and leave to simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

While you wait, break the bread into rough chunks with your hands. Toss with 2 tablespoons oil and some salt and scatter in a roasting tin. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until thoroughly dry. Remove from the oven and set aside.

About 10 minutes before you want to serve the soup, place the chickpeas in a bowl and crush them a little with a potato masher or the end of a rolling pin; you want some to be left whole. Add them to the soup and leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes. Next add the toasted bread, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes.

Taste the soup and add salt and pepper liberally.

Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Spoon some pesto in the center, drizzle with plenty of olive oil and finish with a generous amount of freshly shredded basil, if you like.


Your Gift is Valuable

YEA Gift

Your gift helps to support the Council’s mission to help those that are visually impaired find independence.

Financial gifts in the last month of the year are vital to all who rely on the Council for services, support and information. As you make plans for your year-end giving, please consider making a meaningful gift to the Council.

You may have already received a request in your mailbox from us. If you prefer to make a gift online, you can do so at

All gifts are used to support the Council’s mission and each service or product enables someone with a vision impairment to live more independently and safely. These are a few examples of the impact your gift will make:

$10 – cost per hour to transport a blind or visually impaired staff member to a client meeting

$35 – white cane

$80 – low vision evaluation done by a certified low vision therapist

$160 – two-hour in-home visit by a vision rehabilitation teacher to share tips for cooking, medication management, daily living tasks, and home safety 


Seasons Greetings from the Council!

Seasons Greetings

It is with the deepest gratitude that I thank you for your support in 2016. When you spread the word about the important work we do at the Council, you support our mission. When you visit our Sharper Vision store or benefit from our vision services programs, you allow us to live our mission. When you volunteer to help with our events or make a donation, you make our mission possible. On behalf of the Staff and Board of Directors of Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired, thank you for your support.

May your holidays be filled with joy and contentment!

-      Denise Jess

CEO/Executive Director