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The Big Share Returns on March 7

TheBigShare EventLogo

Image of 'The Big Share' logo with light green and light grey colored font. The words "Communinty Shares of Wisconsin" are below the logo.

On March 7, you will have the opportunity once again to donate to the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired via “The Big Share”, a one day online fundraising event coordinated by Community Shares of Wisconsin. 2017 will be the third year the Council is participating in the campaign, along with 65 other local member nonprofits. In previous years, the Council has raised $3,600 through The Big Share, and it is hoped that amount will be exceeded this year.

Donations to the Council through The Big Share go to fund home rehabilitation visits and the white cane program. A $12 donation covers the cost of a ream of Braille paper, $35 covers the cost of a white cane, $80 would provide a low-vision evaluation to a client, and $160 covers the cost of two hours of in-home training and education. You are free to choose your own donation amount, of course. Every donation helps, whether it’s $5 or $500.

Visit to make your donation. Be sure and select “Wisconsin Council of the Blind” as the group you want to pledge to, otherwise all donations will go directly to Community Shares of Wisconsin. You can either donate on March 7, or pledge to donate early to be recognized on social media by the Council as a “Visionary.” For more information on how to become a “Visionary,” contact Lori Werbeckes at 608-237-8114 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Whatever amount you decide to give and whenever you submit your gift, we thank you for your support. We would not be able to provide the programs that enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people if not for donors like you.

Scholarship Application Now Available –

Post-Secondary Students Encouraged to Apply by March 31

2015 Scholarship Luncheon attendees

Image of 7 scholarship recipients posing for a photo. Kaitlyn Seikert, standing front left, is holding her scholarship certificate.

The Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired is excited to announce that their scholarship program for 2017 is now accepting applications. Wisconsin residents who have a visual acuity of 20/70 or less in the better eye with the best conventional correction, or have a visual field of 20 degrees or less, are eligible. Also, they must be students in post-secondary institutions with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

The Council will award ten scholarships at $2,000 each. Obtain a copy of the scholarship application by visiting the Council’s website at, and clicking on the link to the scholarship application under the “What We Do” tab. Applications should be printed out and mailed to the Council by March 31, 2017.

Send applications to:

Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired

ATTN: Scholarship Committee

754 Williamson St.

Madison WI, 53703

We are eager to learn more about you and help you attain your educational and vocational dreams! Thank you for applying. Good luck!

Low Vision Awareness Month Shines Light on Varying Degrees of Vision Loss


There are two images showing the difference between normal vision and that of age-related macular degeneration.  The clear image on the left shows two young boys smiling widely while holding sports balls. The image on the right shows blotted out central vision and a blurry periphery.

With February being “Low Vision Awareness Month,” the Council would like to remind you of the numerous services we provide to give people who are losing their vision the tools they need to keep living independent and productive lives. Taking advantage of our Low Vision Evaluation, Vision Rehabilitation Services and Technology Services available can help you understand your eye condition and better equip yourself with the tools and techniques to live independently.

Natalie Dahl is 76 and lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She has been gradually losing her vision for about a year due to cataracts caused by long-standing uveitis and macular degeneration. “The help I’ve received through the Council has been wonderful,” she says. She said that with the adaptive tools she obtained from the Council, she is able to maintain her independence where she lives. When asked what she wishes friends and family would keep in mind, she comments that many people assume she can see and forget she is losing her vision. “Often, people just don’t think about it because I look how I’ve always looked. It’s not until I’m out with them, and we’re at a restaurant and I have to use a magnifying glass to read a menu, that they actually think about it.”

The amount of people who have low vision is expected to increase as the population ages. According to the National Eye Institute, 4.2 million Americans ages 40 and older are visually impaired. Of these, 3 million have low vision. By 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, the number of Americans who have visual impairments is projected to reach 7.2 million, with 5 million having low vision.

If you or someone you know is losing your vision, take the first steps to make sure they are equipped with the knowledge they need to succeed. A Low Vision Evaluation at the Council is a great first place to start. We will help you understand your eye condition, connect you with community resources, and provide recommendations for equipment and techniques that will assist you in making the transition.

Low Vision Evaluations are held Monday-Friday between the hours of 8:30 A.M. and 4 P.M. at the Council office located at 754 Williamson Street in Madison. The cost is $80, and the session will last one and a half hours. To schedule a Low Vision Evaluation, contact Certified Low Vision Therapist Amy Wurf by calling 608-237-8107. Visit our website at for more information about the services we offer.

Something to Crow About

By Dan Sullivan

This Month’s Features “The Outlook From Here” Blog Post

Amongst a backdrop of lush green deciduous trees, a black crow sits atop a tree branch. It peers to its left with its beak open slightly and wings at its sides.

Image of a crow perched on a branch. There are many lush, green trees behind him as he peers to his left.

Unlike a lot of folks, I actually like commonplace crows.  Despite their overbearing antics, obnoxious natures and blabbermouth personalities, they are revealing to me.  And as someone seriously lacking in 20/20 acuity, this perception is ever so important.

My friend Darwin, who is Native American and also visually inconvenienced, once taught me about honoring crows.  Within his culture, crows are revered as the spirits of those who have passed on before us and about to crossover into the afterlife.  Because of Darwin, I have learned to listen carefully to these winged creatures and respect them as far more than dirty birds.

Oftentimes when going on short hikes and wandering into the nearby woods, it feels like I am all alone.  If there are creatures around me and unwilling to make a stir, I simply do not see them.  However, should cantankerous crows be about, they always make their presence well known.  Sometimes it is the echoing cry of a singular crow.  More often than not, there is a gathering of these ebony featherheads voicing mayhem.  Most people do not know that a group of these cavorting birds are dubbed a “Murder of Crows.” I am pretty sure this terminology stems from a desire to annihilate these flyby fiends whenever they form a collective chorus.  On the other hand, I sort of appreciate their vocals, which seem to vary anywhere from a stern warning to frantic battle cries.  They serve as personal sentries by letting me know that something is happening in the clandestine enclave of the forest.  And again, as someone who has to tune into the woods more so than visualizing it, I am usually grateful for the earful.  Then again, if I want to hear what else is going on and quell the caterwauling, I then entertain that previously mentioned concept called a “Murder of Crows.”

Sometimes crows can have an opposite effect.  During a recent jaunt in the woods, I encountered a tree-full of the squawkers.  Though in extreme cawing mode, everything suddenly went silent.  Without screeching another note, they were voicing to me a warning.  Besides the crows and I, we were not alone.  I momentarily froze and listened intently.  Sure enough, some critter or creature was stepping softly through the underbrush.  In my neck of the woods, this could mean deer, bear, wolf, or even Bigfoot.  I quickly retreated before finding out which.  When crows abruptly stop talking, it is time to start walking.

When bird watching, there just might be one more advantage due to my optical challenge.  While others may view crows as downright ugly for lacking the patterned and colorful plumage of their fellow fliers, I see them differently and less despicably.   Synchronized in their jaw snapping and wing flapping, they are both amicable and annoying.  At least from this old bird’s perch, that is my outlook from here and perhaps, something to crow about.

Featured Council Contributor Q & A:

Justin Lemke – Administrative Project Manager


Profile image of Justin Lemke. He is wearing a brown sweater and has short cut, dirty-blonde hair, and is squinting as he smiles. 

How long have you worked at the Council? What did you do prior to coming here?

I have been working at the Council for a little more than two years. Before this, I was working at United Way of Dane County helping out in the Resource Development department. I was supporting the Loaned Executives, which were borrowed staff members from different local businesses to help United Way with their annual campaign.

What is your favorite part of working at the Council?

My favorite part is working at events. Whether it is our annual Gallery Night or Low Vision Fair, I enjoy working directly with those that we serve.

What part of your work has had the greatest impact on you?

What impacts me most is meeting people who are blind or visually impaired outside of work. When I mention that I work for the Council, often they can recall purchasing some items from our Sharper Vision Store or remember working with our low vision specialists.

What do you like to do for fun?

I have been practicing martial arts for about 10 years and I absolutely love it. I received my black belt when I was a senior in high school and since then, it has always been a part of my life. I’m just fortunate that there is an Aikido school not too far from where I live.