Wisconsin Agencies That Benefit the Blind and Visually Impaired
Wisconsin is a great state to live in for those who are blind or visually impaired. America’s Dairyland offers a long list of resources and programs for those with visual impairments. After noticing this, I decided to do a little digging to find out some details on the many services offered here. According to the most recent U.S. Census, 1.4 percent of the state’s population between the ages of 18 and 64 (a little over 50,000 people) identified as having vision difficulties. This number increased to 5.1 percent when it came to those 65 and older.
Below you’ll find a list of local resources and programs and how you can use them.
Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired (OBVI)
OBVI is a State of Wisconsin office that helps improve the lives of people with vision loss by providing one-on-one services at their local offices or in people’s homes.
The Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (WCBVI)
WCBVI works in conjunction with local education agencies, schools, and parents of students who are blind or visually impaired to provide assessments, consultations, and instruction in all areas of education.
Audio & Braille Literacy Enhancement (ABLE)
ABLE provides alternative ways for people with print disabilities to be able to read. Their services include the transcription of print materials into audio, digital, and braille formats.
Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL)
As part of a national network cooperating with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), WTBBL provides audio books and braille materials to people living in Wisconsin who cannot see regular print or handle print materials. WTBBL patrons can receive and return books and equipment postage-free through the U.S. Postal Service.
Vision Forward Association
The mission at Vision Forward is to empower, educate, and enhance the lives of individuals impacted by vision loss through all of life’s transitions. Their services include community education and training, as well as support groups.
Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired
The Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired works to promote the dignity and empowerment of the people in our state who are blind and visually impaired by providing services, advocating legislation, and educating the general public.
State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development—Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation provides many resources for job seekers with disabilities. It also offers programs and materials for businesses on recruiting and retaining disabled workers.
The OccuPaws Guide Dog Association
OccuPaws is an innovative, creative, and life-changing organization dedicated to empowering the visually impaired while raising awareness and education for adults. It is Wisconsin’s only school fully accredited by both the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International.
Prevent Blindness Wisconsin
Prevent Blindness Wisconsin provides free, direct sight-saving programs and services to prevent blindness by identifying early signs of vision disorders, facilitating early and effective treatment, and preventing eye injury.
Wisconsin Lions Camp
The Wisconsin Lions Camp offers a quality camping experience free of charge to eligible children and adults with disabilities from Wisconsin.
Most of these services are provided free of cost to those with vision difficulties. You can learn more about each organization by visiting their website or giving them a call.
To find even more resources in our state, please visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Resources.