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Saving Sight: Macular Degeneration Symposium Sponsors Make Event Possible

Associated Bank Logo 2013Thank you to Associated Bank for being our title sponsor at this year’s Saving Sight Symposium

On Thursday, October 27th the Council hosted the “Saving Sight: Macular Degeneration Symposium" in partnership with the UW Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and UW Health at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

With over 300 people in attendance, guests were able to experience up to twelve 15 minute educational programs presented by experts in the field of visual science and vision services. Also offered was a vendor fair with 25 business and service organizations, as well as health screenings provided by the UW Department of Nursing.

This event would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors.

A special thanks goes out to our title sponsor, Associated Bank. Providing quality financial services is at the core of what Associated Bank offers to its customers and as an extension of the commitment, they are dedicated to communities throughout the state of Wisconsin through corporate giving, employee volunteerism and sponsorship support.

“Our corporate giving is focused on creating affordable housing, providing community services to minority and low-to-moderate income customers and communities, promoting economic development of small businesses, and revitalizing and stabilizing neighborhoods within our footprint. In addition, we support the arts, education and similar programs that bring vitality to our communities and bridge the strengths of diversified groups in the markets we serve,” according to their website.

We also wish to thank Vanda Pharmaceuticals and Enhanced Vision for their sponsorships as well.

Still Time Left to Bid on Many Superb Items Through Online Auction

 Online Auction Green Owl

The Green Owl restaurant is one of many dining establishments offering gift certificates during this year’s “Bidding Against Blindness” online auction.

Have you taken part in our online auction, “Bidding Against Blindness?” Time is running out! The auction ends on Wednesday, November 16.

We have several great items to bid on. All proceeds from your purchases allows you to help support the execution of the Council’s mission and work. 

Our “Bidding Against Blindness” online auction allows you to participate from the comfort of your home! There’s no travel required and you don’t have to worry about hiring a babysitter to attend. All it takes is a few minutes in front of your computer, smartphone or tablet, browsing a variety of items at

More than 100 items have been generously donated for this year’s auction! Some items featured include:

- Gift certificates to The Shoe Box, FoodFight restaurants, and Gail Ambrosia’s Chocolatiers

- Tickets to the Peninsula Players Theater and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin

- Piano and drawing lessons

- And many more!

There’s not much time left. Don’t let an opportunity to win terrific products and services, all while supporting the Council, pass you by!

Special thanks goes out to the many individuals and businesses who donated items to the auction. Your generosity makes this auction a fun and fund-filled event!

November Webinar Highlights Staff Favorites from Sharper Vision Store


Sharper Vision Store Manager Brent Perzentka discussed some of the newest and most popular items currently available to customers. 

Council staff had the chance to talk about their favorite products and show how they use them in their everyday lives in our webinar: “Adaptive Products for Individuals with Vision Loss” on November 2.

In this one-hour webinar, staff members described the product’s features, talked about how they use them, and the item’s importance to their daily routine.

Also during the webinar, Sharper Vision Store Manager Brent Perzentka highlighted some of the store’s newest items and discussed how they are used.

Education and Vision Services Director Jean Kalscheur said the webinar was an ideal opportunity for the Council to promote the variety and uniqueness of items in the Sharper Vision Store. From two-sided spatulas to large tactile dots used for marking household items, our store offers something for everyone.

In case you missed the webinar, you can still access it at:

Dining in the Dark Guests Enjoy Meal Without Sense of Sight

DintheD Long Table

Attendees listen closely to direction from chef Mark prior to diving into the first course. 

A rural setting, welcoming hosts and delicious food helped create an amazing Dining in the Dark experience for Madison-area guests in mid-September. The Council extends a heartfelt thanks to Vignette Dining Club for generously donating all proceeds from the dinner to the Council.

Mark and Brian of Vignette Dining Club embraced the opportunity to provide a meal guests would enjoy without vision. The textures and aromas of the different foods came alive to the blindfolded diners as they ate without using their sense of sight.

We hope to partner with Vignette Dining Club again for more of these fun and educational experiences. If you would like to join us, watch for information from the Council or follow the club at

National Family Caregivers Month: Insights and Suggestions for Those Who Care for Persons with Disabilities Every Day

family caregivers month

An adult child sits at the kitchen table with her father. She rests her hand on top of his while looking over a legal pad. 

National Family Caregivers Month honors the compassionate family members, friends and neighbors, along with dedicated paid caregivers, who help a growing population of aging and disabled adults.

According to the National Care Planning Council, about 20 percent of people in the U.S. provide part-time or full-time care for someone in need. Formal caregivers serve as either volunteers or paid care providers hired through a service system. Informal caregivers tend to be family, friends, neighbors or church members who lend unpaid care to a disabled or aging person.

About 75 percent of caregivers are also still employed full or part-time and many have to readjust their work schedules, take on less hours, or accept an unpaid leave to provide care. 

While many family members have a strong desire to serve as caregivers for their loved ones, it can be quite stressful. When working with someone with a visual impairment, there are specific tips that can reduce stress on the caregiver, as well as provide the best care possible for the individual with vision loss. Prevent Blindness lists four elements of success in living with low vision: tenacity, adaptability, support, and knowledge.

Tenacity represents the goal of finding new directions. If a caregiver is persistent in searching for valuable tools and resources to maintain a high level of care, the person receiving care should enjoy a good quality of life.

Adaptability reflects a desire to change how things are done. Most people have little or no control over how they lose their vision, but choices can be made to adapt to living with it.

Support highlights the importance of “cope-ability,” according to Prevent Blindness. For caregivers, providing understanding and assistance is very important when caring for someone with low vision.

Knowledge is the most effective defense against the effects of vision loss because it helps the caregiver provide better care when they know what resources to utilize.

Prevent Blindness lists 12 specific tips when caring for someone who is visually impaired:

- Use contrasting colors and limit the number of colors to avoid confusion.

- When writing, use a dark, bold pen or marker (not a pencil) and don’t use cursive.

- When using email in rich text, increase the font size to at least 16 points. Use fonts that are easier to read. 

- Spend time learning about low vision technology and devices.

- Use simple ways to help the care recipient easily adapt their home for a safer environment.

- Assist the recipient in “seeing” with their ears with descriptive accounts of locations, people and objects.

- When serving a meal, use the “clock face” method to help the recipient find food on their plate.

- Include the recipient in social gatherings and encourage them to participate in a support group.

- When guiding the recipient, allow them to grasp your arm. While using stairs, proceed one step ahead.

- While guiding to a seat, let the recipient touch the chair or bench first, to allow them to seat themselves.

- Let them know that good nutrition and exercise is important for a healthy life.

- A trained professional can also provide low vision rehabilitation services, which is vital for continuing care.

For more information, go to

Consider Giving to The Council Through Your IRA Distributions

There is great news if you have an IRA distribution to take before the end of the year.

A federal law change makes it possible to give individual retirement account (IRA) assets to charities you care about, and it’s free from federal tax.

If you are age 70.5 and older and are required to take minimum IRA distributions but do not need the extra income, you can make a significant gift to a non-profit charity you want to support. But there is an important fact to remember: the gift must go directly from your IRA to the qualifying charity. The appropriate name to use is Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired; our tax ID is 39-0977746.

To make sure your gift is handled properly, talk with your IRA plan administrator. This legislation can make an incredible impact for taxpayers and qualifying charities! Be sure to act soon to make the most of your contribution.

Council Office and Sharper Vision Store Closed for Thanksgiving

turkey 1456681 960 720

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired!

The Council office and the Sharper Vision Store will be closed on Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25 so our staff can enjoy the holiday with family and friends.

Both the store and office will reopen on Monday, November 28 from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. We wish you and your family a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Sharper Vision Store Product Feature: Talking Clinical Thermometer

Store product feature

The English language talking thermometer features LCD and audio announcement for low vision users. This thermometer works for oral, rectal, or underarm use and responds quickly to your body temperature. The accuracy is 0.2°F and 0.1°C.

Item # HM246, $12.00