Choosing a role from the selection was difficult. I chose advisor because, as director of the Weis Earth Science Museum, I was fortunate to work with the Council to implement a museum exhibit that was accessible to visitors with visual impairment. When I approached the Council with the exhibit idea, I was impressed with how quickly they embraced it. And not just with words, but with actions. Council grant writer Judy Nolde worked tirelessly to find funds to help make the exhibit a reality. Although I had wanted to do an exhibit like this for some time, I had no idea how little museums typically offer for the visually impaired visitor. The Council was aware of this, however, and really got behind the project. I met Council board members at the exhibit opening and was struck by how engaged they were and interested in extending this kind of opportunity to others with visual challenges. It is obvious that they strive to uphold their mission to promote the dignity and independence of the visually impaired. I also see their backing of this exhibit as fulfilling their goal to educate the public, which will have the opportunity to experience the crystals, fossils and rocks in the exhibit in the same manner as the blind visitor to gain a new perspective.
I am truly grateful that I do not need service from the WI Council for The Blind and Visually impaired, but having donated my professional skills for an event in the last few months, I am profoundly grateful for the impact they are having on my community, and the clients they serve.
Several months ago, I emceed the 60th anniversary gala for the council, after being approached by a partially sighted board member, who heard me speak at a professional meeting. I was one of only 4 sighted presenters at the podium.
As one blind or partially-sighted speaker after another made their way from seat to mic and back again, I realized that I was witnessing the outcome of 60 years of continuous support, encouragement, confidence-boosting and esteem building.
Through educational programs, supply of equipment and grants; hand-holding and awareness building, the council has empowered the blind and partially-sighted community in WI to realize their goals, leverage their abilities and challenge themselves to ask for more from the world. Perhaps even more important; they have given their clients, and their families, the confidence to contribute more to the world too.
It is too easy for those of us with all our basic facilities and an abundance of compassion, to serve those who are not so blessed in a way that denies the recipients of our service the chance to show what they can do. It is clear to me, as I've connected more with people I met that evening, that The Council prioritizes enabling their clients to help themselves as much as possible, building their self-reliance, their independence and their sense of self-worth.
I would give them more stars if more were available.
This organization has improved my life in so many ways--they are like the gift that keeps on giving. My first experience with the organization was through the support group for people who have RP. I had never interacted with people who are blind or visually impaired before, and just the opportunity to talk casually with others have improved my life so much. The individuals who lead the group have the best character and make us laugh even when we are talking about serious subjects.
This organization also provided me with the opportunity to start a storytelling group for people who are blind or visually impaired. As soon as I expressed interest, they were nothing but helpful, excited, and encouraging. They helped me make contacts throughout Wisconsin to recruit participants, and they have gone out of their way to help me in any way they can. I couldn't ask for more!
Finally, this organization provided me with a scholarship for students who are blind or visually impaired. This is such a great way to help students who might have more expenses or challenges than other students, and I was very appreciative of the help.
For anyone who is looking for a way to connect with other who are blind or visually impaired, I would highly recommend getting involved with this organization. They do a wonderful job of creating a sense of community for individuals and their families. I always feel at home in this organization.
The Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired lives up to their mission of promoting the dignity and independence of people in Wisconsin who are blind and visually impaired by providing services, advocating legislation, and educating the general public. The organization doesn't just do for this population but works with those who know firsthand what genuine assistance should be. Their staff is sincere and their board members are dedicated making it a joy to volunteer for them. I feel like I am really making a difference when I help out with one of their events, driving one of their Vocational Rehab Educators to appointments, or recording their newsletter. They value their volunteers and the work we do. More people should know about this organization and get involved.
The Wisconsin Council of the Blind is an outstanding organization that is always willing to provide information to our Guide Dog Clients. OccuPaws Guide Dog Association has a number of people that call us for advice regarding blindness and the resources that are available for the blind. I find that the Council has always been supportive to these individuals.