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Wyoming Council for the Blind collecting testimonials for next legislative session

Cheryl Godley shopping at a grocery store with the help of her guide dog.
Gary Godley
Cheryl Godley shopping at a grocery store with the help of her guide dog.

The Wyoming Council for the Blind will be gathering testimonials to bring to the Wyoming legislature in the coming months.

According to theAmerican Community Survey, around 15,000 people are visually impaired in the state of Wyoming.

Cheryl Godley, president of the council, hopes getting stories out there will spread awareness on certain issues like guide dogs, like what she uses or white canes.

“The cane is basically seen as an extension of the hand, where we can feel the surface that we're walking on, we can feel uneven spaces in the sidewalks, we can find the curbs, those kinds of things, so that we're better able to maneuver and get around,” Godley said.

Some challenges for the visually impaired are no auditory cues for crosswalks, and streets with no sidewalks. These are common occurrences in many rural places in the state.

Tom Lealos has been with the council for around 20 years, and is blind. He said that he hopes the legislature increases punishments for hitting a person with a white cane or a guide dog with a vehicle, in hopes to increase safety for the visually impaired.

“So, if someone's driving around and sees a person traveling with a cane, or a guide dog, they better be thinking, thinking twice the speed and paying attention to what's going on. So there isn't an injury,” he said.

Leolas said the Wyoming Council of the Blind also advocates for the Talking Books Program that provides materials usually found in libraries to those who are blind and visually impaired. According to their website, they want permanent funding from the state to keep the Talking Books Program Accessible in Wyoming.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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