Who we are

The Council’s mission, values and history

A woman paints using her hand.

Mission & Values

MISSION: Promote the dignity and empowerment of the people in Wisconsin who are blind and visually impaired by providing services, advocating legislation and educating the general public.

VALUES: Inclusivity, uncompromising respect and integrity are the core values that guide the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired in fulfilling our mission. We foster long-term relationships with our partners, sister organizations, donors, policy-makers and the public. Expand the categories below to learn how the Council defines and embraces inclusivity, practices uncompromising respect, and fosters integrity.

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Inclusivity

As people who are blind or visually impaired, we understand the experiences of being part of a minority group that at times faces adversity or discrimination. Therefore, we are committed to actively seeking and welcoming diverse people, experiences and perspectives and to foster inclusivity. Practicing inclusivity creates opportunities for greater innovation, sustainability and mission-focused, responsive and person-centered programs and services.

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uncompromising respect

We uphold the dignity and worth of all individuals and groups in how we treat each other, even in times of disagreement or conflict. We acknowledge and affirm all people traveling with us on this life journey of blindness or visual impairment, including those facing rapidly changing vision. We recognize that each individual and family must take their own path on this journey in an atmosphere of genuine support and compassion, allowing for constructive feedback, growth-centered risk-taking and creativity.

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Integrity

We practice unfailing integrity in all individual and organizational actions to steward the Council’s precious human, financial and capital resources. Our goal is to say what we do and do what we say, both within the organization and outside of it, which we exemplify by the highest standards of ethics, honesty and trustworthiness as we live our mission.

history

The Council began by uniting several organizations that served people who realized we are stronger together than we are apart. The original mission centered around legislative advocacy, but over time grew to include vision services and education. Below is a timeline that highlights major dates from the Council’s founding in 1952 to today.

A woman sits at a desk with a large window behind her.
1952
1952
Founded as the Wisconsin Council of the Blind
An older man sits at a counter trying a talking blood pressure monitor.
1960s
1960s
The Council’s Sharper Vision Store opens its doors
White canes with red strips on display..
1980s
1980s
White canes first distributed by the Council
A black and white photo: Three men stand around a CCTV with bookshelves behind them.
1984
1984
The Council donates a CCTV to the UW Low Vision Clinic
A man and two women sit at a booth surrounded by adaptive products.
1989
1989
The Council's exhibit at the Wisconsin State Fair
A black and white photo of a man golfing while wearing sunglasses.
1990s
1990s
Orientation and mobility are added to Council’s services
A woman's hands chop an onion on a black cutting board using a red knife.
1990s
1990s
Vision rehabilitation becomes an in-home service
A group of people stand around a person demonstrating a task lamp.
1992
1992
The Council adds Vision Services as a pillar program
A woman holds a computer device in her lap while a man talks to her.
1994
1994
Assistive technology in 1994
A man walks out of a brick building using a white cane.
2001
2001
The Council moves to its current Williamson Street location
A program printed in black and white sits on a table.
2002
2002
50th Anniversary
A black and white sign affixed to a brick building.
2003
2003
“Visually Impaired” is added to the Council’s name
A women in black with her service dog.
2006
2006
Council introduces and shepherds Casey’s Law
A group of people looking at items on shelves.
2006
2006
The store is renamed “The Sharper Vision Store”
Brailled paper.
2012
2012
Accessible material becomes available at the post-secondary level
A woman points to a magnifier that a man is holding over a newspaper.
2015
2015
The Council's Low Vision Clinic opens
Two hands type on a keyboard with an iPhone sitting next to them.
2017
2017
Assistive technology one-on-one appointments and classes available

Vision Facts

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Every 7 minutes, someone in American will become blind or visually impaired.
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The estimated number of visually impaired Americans will be 7 million by 2020

Vision loss can occur at any age, but as the population ages, age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma will increase.

The Council is committed to empowering and assisting the growing number of people who must make lifestyle changes and adjustments due to vision impairment.