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March On Sight – 1st Edition

Scholarship Applications Deadline Quickly Approaching –

Due March 31

scholorship march 1

WCBVI's 2016 Scholarship Recipients (from left to right): Bailey Hart, Sajid Jaber, Alexander Kloety, Kaitlyn Siekert and Bill Zueleger.

Not pictured: Ian Kloehn.


Time is quickly running out to get your applications sent in for the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired 2017 scholarship program. The deadline is March 31, 2017! 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. They must be full- or part-time students in post-secondary institutions with at least a 3.0 GPA. The Council will award 10 scholarships at $2,000 each.

“We want to increase opportunities,” said Denise Jess, CEO/Executive Director. “Being able to receive a scholarship gift might be the financial support a student needs. After graduation, they will go out into the workforce, helping to reduce the stereotypes of people who have visual disabilities.”

To apply, download the Scholarship Application Kit at, fill out the form, and enclose all necessary forms, essays and paperwork in one envelope and send it to the Council. All entries must be postmarked by March 31, 2017. No late entries will be considered.

Send scholarship entries to:

Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired

ATTN: Scholarship Committee

754 Williamson St.

Madison WI, 53703

“As a retired educator who has been visually impaired all my life, I cannot think of a program or service I’ve found that is as important to students seeking an education,” said Scholarship Committee Chair Bruce Parkinson. “The scholarship gives blind and visually impaired students assistance in getting an education that they might not be able to afford due to their disability.”


Council Welcomes Four New Board Members in 2017

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A promotional image reads “WELCOME TO THE COUNCIL!” in bold green text on a black background. Surrounding the words are teal, green and plum colored confetti.

The Council is excited to introduce four new board members in 2017.

“I am thrilled about the new group of board members because they represent a diverse range of experiences with blindness, visual impairment and disability,” said Annika Konrad, who served as chair of the Nominating Committee in 2016. “They have touched the lives of many individuals with visual and other disabilities, and I look forward to learning from them about the challenges and successes of the people they know.”

John Foulks

John Foulks is 59 years old. He works as a vender in the Randolph-Sheppard program. He has been blind for 17 years, due to diabetes.

He said he is excited to get involved with the Council because “The Executive Director has a lot of enthusiasm. I was really impressed when I went for orientation. The staff has a lot of passion to help others, and I like the ideas of many of the programs the Council runs.”

In his free time, John said he enjoys going to concerts. He will be seeing Tom Petty at Summerfest in Milwaukee, and he regularly attends the free concerts held in Ripon on Friday nights. He enjoys classic rock and roll.

Troy Hergert

Troy Hergert is 47 years old and lives in Milwaukee. He has less than 10 percent usable sight due to retinitis pigmentosa. Troy has worked at Vision Forward for 22 years. The board position will be his first time getting involved with the Council.

Troy said he wanted to join the board because he wants to know how other organizations affected change legislatively. He said he is eager to learn how the Council goes about lobbying and making the needs of the blind and visually impaired community known to lawmakers.

Troy enjoys playing guitar and has been in bands all his life. He said he is working on some acoustic projects. He plays at his church a lot, is a first-degree black belt in Tai Kwon Do, and he likes to read sci-fi novels. “I don’t let my visual impairment stop me from living an active life and going out and doing the things I want to do,” he said.

Michael Sallaway

Michael Sallaway is the first sighted board member to serve with the Council. He lives in Holmen, Wisconsin. He works as a Vocational and Rehabilitation Counselor for Native Americans and is of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Kelsey Tiradani

Kelsey Tiradani is a 32-year-old teacher of the blind and visually impaired in the Madison School District. She first got involved with the Council when she was diagnosed with Stargardts disease 19 years ago. She said the Council provided her with services that helped her adjust to her vision loss.

Kelsey said she wanted to join the board because she is interested in learning more about organizations that advocate for blind people in the community outside the school district where she works. She said she is excited to bring her perspective as a teacher of the blind and visually impaired, and to bring her knowledge of the services provided by the Council to students and their families.

Her hobbies include running, CrossFit, biking, going to the Memorial Union, and boating. “I’m passionate about working with children and being able to connect with them and their families because I’m visually impaired,” she said. “I’m able to give them more guidance on programs and services available. I’m also able to relate to my students because, as a visually impaired person, I know what they’re going through and can help them through their challenges and struggles.”


Vignette Dining Club hosts second Dining in the Dark Experience with Tasty Success

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Chef Mark of Vignette Dining Club smiles as he reaches over the left shoulder of a dinner guest to pour her a glass of water. Two other guests to his left smile as they engage in conversation.

Vignette Dining Club and the Council once again hosted Dining in the Dark on Saturday, February 11. Vignette Dining Club will very generously be donating all the proceeds to the Council. Thirteen guests attended.

“The Council would like to extend a huge thank you to Vignette,” said Lori Werbeckes, the Council’s Fund Development Director. “The response from the guests was wonderful! They enjoyed the evening, and they certainly enjoyed the food. The food was delicious.”

Sighted guests were blindfolded during the meal, which took place in the dark dining room of a remodeled farmhouse. The guests sat at one long table, family style.

This year’s menu included: course 1 - chocolate whoopee pie, orange chocolate buttercream, black pepper cashews; course 2 - fried mac & cheese ball, bacon wrapped brat ball, beer cheddar sauce; course 3 - pretzel fried chicken, savory scallion waffle, maple mustard cream sauce; and course 4 - molten lemon cake, raspberries, blueberries, lavender lady fingers.

“People said the most challenging part was cutting the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces,” said Lori. “The fried mac & cheese balls were also tricky to eat, because they could roll.”

Judith Rasmussen, Council Program Assistant and Braillist, attended the event for the first time.

“I really liked the combination of flavors that I would not have thought about putting together,” said Judith Rasmussen, who attended the event for the first time. “For example, chocolate, orange and pepper in the first course and a maple mustard sauce over onion waffles in the main course. This makes me want to be more experimental in what I might make for myself or guests. The variety of textures and smells was also very interesting.”

As the only person with a visual impairment in attendance, Judith was able to provide additional context to the importance of this activity.

“It’s just a wonderful experience,” she said. “The people of Vignette Dining Club were very friendly and hospitable. It was also a great way to meet other people. At first, we might have felt a bit awkward, but in the end, we all made a connection, and some of the people felt comfortable enough to ask me a couple of questions about my blindness, which was very rewarding. I would encourage anyone to go to the next event; it’s a way to support the Council and learn more about food.”

“We’re so grateful to Vignette,” said Lori. “All they do is keep the cost of the food and the rest of the proceeds come to us. They want people to enjoy dining; they do not want it to be a fast-food experience. They want people to truly enjoy and savor their meals.”

Vignette Dining Club uses all fresh, local ingredients. They host events and cooking classes several times per month. To learn more about Vignette Dining Club, visit


Council to Host Coulee Region Low Vision Fair on May 4

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The Lunda Center at Western Technical College will be the site of the Coulee Region Low Vision Fair on Thursday, May 4th.

The Council will host the Coulee Region Low Vision Fair on Thursday, May 4. The fair will take place from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., and will be located at Western Technical College’s Lunda Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. There is no cost to attend, and it is not necessary to preregister.

“The fair will bring information to a local level that’s not readily available to people who are visually impaired,” said Jean Kalscheur, Education and Vision Services Director. “It’s also a place to help make people aware of other services that might be available in their community. For the Council, the event will serve as a place for us to do outreach and learn about different parts of the state and the needs and interests of people who are blind and visually impaired in those areas.”

Twenty venders will be present, including Clear Vision Midwest, Enhanced Vision, Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Sharper Vision Store. Jean said the fair will give consumers a chance to have a hands-on experience of the products and to ask the venders questions. “We gear things primarily towards adults, but someone could come and talk to venders about children’s products,” said Jean.

Breakout sessions will also be held to discuss various issues related to vision loss. A schedule of breakout sessions and topics will be published on the Council’s website at

“We’ll have a listening session so people can tell us what issues are going on in their area and what concerns they have,” said Jean. “That way our staff can better know what’s on their minds. It’s a chance for people to meet us and learn more about the services and technology available.”

For more information about the Coulee Region Low Vision Fair, visit the Council’s website.


Sharper Vision Store Product Feature

Large Print Address Book

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The lines of this Large Print Address Book are spaced 1/2 an inch apart to provide ample room for large handwriting and easy reading for low vision individuals. This book contains three name listings per page and over 500 total individual listing spaces. Measures 7-1/2" x 9-1/2" with spiral binding.

Item# WG307