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On Sight: March 2015


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Expanding Visual Horizons: The Council Opens a Low Vision Clinic

On February 23rd, 2015, the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired opened a Low Vision Clinic at their Madison location (754 Williamson Street). Not only will people coming in receive an hour long low vision evaluation, but also receive recommendations on assistive technology that will help them remain as independent as possible during their time of vision loss. Learn more about the Low Vision Clinic at

Spearheading the Low Vision Clinic work is Amy Wurf, the new Low Vision Therapist at the Council as of January 2015. She comes to us with 19 years of experience providing low vision services to adults in the Midwest, primarily to veterans at VA Hospitals in Chicago and Madison. During the last six years at the Low Vision Clinic at the William S. Middleton VA Hospital, she worked on a national low vision research project and led her clinic team in its national accreditation.

To schedule a low vision evaluation, call Amy at 608-237-8107 today!


Supporting Rock County Veterans

Thanks to a generous grant from the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, The Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired is forming a monthly support group for Rock County veterans who are blind or have low vision. Spouses, significant others, or adult children/caregivers of veterans are also welcome. The purpose of this support group is to provide a welcoming atmosphere where veterans can exchange and share information, experiences, and resources in their areas.

The support group is scheduled to meet on the second Wednesday of each month from 10:00 – 11:00am at the Kienow-Hilt VFW Post 1621, located at 1015 Center Avenue in Janesville. The first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 8.

The topics of the meetings will ultimately be decided by the participants, but some possible ideas include coping strategies for handling the challenges presented by vision loss, accessing resources (including those that the VA can offer), guest speakers on topics related to vision changes and eye disorders. There is ample parking at the VFW and the building is handicapped accessible.

Please plan to come and share your experiences, ideas, and enjoy the fellowship of other veterans! You can join this support group by contacting Amy Wurf, Low Vision Therapist, at 608-237-8107 (or toll free at 1-800-783-5213) or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Don’t Miss the Scholarship Application Deadline!

The Council is thrilled to offer 10 scholarships for $2,000 each this year.

Applicants must be Wisconsin residents who are high school graduates or returning post-secondary students, carrying a full load of classes as defined by the institution they will attend, and have an accumulated GPA of at least 2.5. All applicants must have identified goals for the future, including eventual employment, and they must meet other scholarship requirements.

A scholarship application kit with guidelines is available here or on the Council’s website under the “What We Do” tab. The deadline to submit all materials is April 10, 2015. Scholarship recipients will be notified by May 1, and a scholarship ceremony will take place on May 30 in the Madison area.

The Council wishes all Wisconsin post-secondary students the best of luck as they begin or continue their exciting academic careers and plan for gainful employment after graduation. 


Webinar: Gardening for Gardeners with Vision Impairments

Save the Date: April 2, 2015 from 10-11am Central Time 

The Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired’s webinar, “Gardening for Gardeners with Vision Impairments,” will be held on Thursday, April 2, 2015 from 10-11 AM CST.

The guest speaker is Barbara Kreski, MHS, OTR/L, HTR.  Barb is the Director of Horticultural Therapy Services at the Chicago Botanic Garden (  Barb will speak about outdoor gardening with a focus on enjoying the gardening experience through touch and smell when the gardener has vision loss.  She will also address safety tips, stress reduction and tools to ease the work.

Judith Rasmussen, Program Assistant at the Council, will describe her personal experiences as an avid container gardener of herbs and orchids. To attend the webinar, you will need a personal computer with Internet access or belong to an organization that can provide access to this online event. Register here or on the Council’s website (  under the “Events” tab or call 1-800-783-5213 for assistance. Attending the webinar is FREE.


Keep Your Vision Sharp this March 

Is your vision worth saving? The American Optometric Association (AOA) designates the month of March as “Save Your Vision Month.” Spreading awareness regarding the value of scheduling regular eye evaluations and encouraging people to be proactive about one’s vision health is also a goal of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired. According to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), 109,101 Wisconsin residents reported vision loss in 2013. Caring for your eyes and taking positive steps toward healthy vision can help us keep this number from growing.

The American Optometric Association has developed the Baby Boomers Healthy Vision Checklist. If individuals answer “yes” to any of the questions on the list, they are encouraged to schedule an eye exam with their doctor of optometry or ophthalmology. The list is available on our website:


From Vision Viewpoint to the Outlook from Here

We have had a great run on Vision Viewpoint – a blog started by Judith Rasmussen, the Council’s Program Assistant. Since July of 2013, Judith and other staff have written articles that gave perspective into our work and the people’s lives we touch. It is with great joy we embrace a new creative space for our readers to come to know and love.

We are excited to be further endorsing Outlook from Here, a blog dedicated to sharing stories of living in Wisconsin with blindness, visual impairment, or disability, started in partnership between the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired and Annika Konrad, a Ph.D. Candidate in Rhetoric & Composition at UW-Madison and new Board Member of the Council.

The Outlook from Here has over a dozen contributors who are blind or visually impaired who recount moments of excitement, fear, loss, and triumph in their own lives as it relates to their vision. If you are interested in becoming a contributor to our blog, please contact Annika Konrad at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Currently, the Outlook from Here is accepting new writers and fresh ideas.

All of the past articles on Vision Viewpoint will stay archived on this site, but to read more about the lives of people in Wisconsin affected by blindness or visual impairment, please visit Outlook from Here.

Thank you to all of our readers and we look forward to continue serving you at our new blog!


Think Summer!

It may be hard to believe, but summer is right around the corner! Every summer, The Wisconsin Lions Foundation offers two camping weeks for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. One camp is for youth, ages 6-17, and the other is for adults, ages 18 and older. Our Information and Referral Specialist Chad Nelson has attended the camp for adults for the last five years and plans to attend the next session which will be held June 7-12, 2015.

Chad shares his insight on the camp atmosphere and activities:
 “Attending Wisconsin Lions Camp is like visiting with an old friend. Camp property is located on 440 acres including a 40 acre private lake that provides excellent fishing opportunities, boating and swimming activities.

While at camp you will notice the peaceful and quiet setting with lots of nature and wildlife, such as squirrels, deer, many different types of birds, and at night, the lake is alive with Bull frogs and night bird songs. The property is a beautiful collection of grounds and lots of woods with camp sites available.

Nothing is better than getting away to a place that offers a relaxing and pleasant experience. Describing Wisconsin Lions Camp can in no way begin to express its wonder and beauty.”

The 2015 application is now available. There is a small registration fee; however, the week at camp is free. Applications are available at the front desk of the Council, or by following these links to the appropriate application forms:

Youth Application

Adult Application

Learn more about Wisconsin Lions Camp at or by calling Chad at 1-800-783-5213, extension 8112. He also recommends joining the Facebook Group Wisconsin Lions Camp Friends to meet others who have attended and ask questions.

Thanks for sharing the application with anyone who may be interested in this opportunity.

The Legislative Committee on Writing a Bill

The Council’s Legislative Committee has been successful in partnering with legislators to pass two bills into law in the past 10 years. Though this number may seem low, thousands of bills are introduced each year, and the average rate of enactment is only 3% (according to This year, the committee will work with legislators to introduce an Omnibus bill. The committee is also discussing legislation regarding service animals in hopes to align the Wisconsin law closer to the Federal laws. Currently, Wisconsin has less restrictive laws than the federal standards. 

Many of you are probably wondering: How is a bill written? Below are three condensed steps which guide the bill writing process:

Step 1: Research the idea for the bill, know what laws are already in place, and know exactly how it should be changed.

Step 2: A person or organization’s idea for a bill must be sponsored by a legislator, who uses their resources to actually draft the bill. Partnering with a legislator who believes in the goal of the bill is important before moving forward.

Step 3: Form a write and revise relationship with the legislator and the team that they have writing the bill. Meet regularly to go over the content of the bill until both parties are satisfied.

Writing a bill is not a simple process, and takes a lot of partnerships, promotion, and support to get through the stages after being introduced. To learn more about the legislative process or becoming involved in drafting ideas for bills, consult the Wisconsin’s Legislature’s document How a Bill Becomes Law or the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families’ Legislative Advocacy Guide.


Sharper Vision Store Featured Item:
COIL AT Max Magnifier 3x, 5x, & 7x

The COIL AT Max magnifier provides a larger field of view than most similarly powered magnifiers giving the user a larger viewing area. Hold the blue area on the handle to activate the light and it will automatically turn off once you have released it from your hand, giving you one less thing to worry about. The efficient LEDs give an even, balanced spread of light across the lens. This handheld magnifier is perfect for low vision individuals. Easy to use and lightweight, you can carry this magnifier with you anywhere you need it, to enlarge books, newspapers, or packaging print effortlessly.

Item # 3x-MLP 800, 5x-MLP 805, 7x-MLP 807 Cost $65.00


May we help you?

If you have questions about the Council’s programs, services, events, outreach or legislative advocacy, please visit or call us toll-free at 800-783-5213 or locally in Madison at 608-255-1166.