Vision Australia makes life easier for vision impaired

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Rikki Raadsveld will have a range of everyday devices at the Vision Australia site to make life easier for the vision impaired.

Blindness or vision loss including those caused by farm accidents will be highlighted by Vision Australia at this year’s Henty’s Country Lifestyle program.

Vision Australia regional manager Helen Vey said more than 32,000 vision impaired children and adults were supported each year by the organisation nationally.

The regional team supports people experiencing blindness and low vision across the Riverina and North East Victoria, providing children’s services, low vision assessments, a library, equipment, strategies to manage at home, peer support programs, technology and training, employment services and advocacy.

Visitors to the Vision Australia site in Henty’s Country Lifestyle pavilion will find a wide range of equipment on display, from large print playing cards, watches, calculators, phones and remotes to kitchen utensils and crockery.

For people with low vision working in farm tool and machinery sheds, Vision Australia recommends increasing lighting, magnification and contrasting matt surfaces to enhance remaining vision in order to see tools, jigs and guides more confidently.

In addition, Vision Australia Albury conducts a pre-employment program, assisting people to set goals, identify existing skills and get them “job ready’’.

Vision Australia has around 140 volunteers in the region, assisting clients with diverse needs ranging from help with support programs and events, knitting and craft and office tasks through to audio descriptions of theatre performances.

Ms Vey said volunteers were always welcome and underwent role specific training.

Vision Australia supports people of all ages and can help the community to prepare for the National Disability Insurance Scheme for under 65s and My Aged Care for over 65s, and has established a national helpline.

“We employ occupational therapists, mobility specialists and orthoptists to provide support for clients, and take a holistic view to make sure people with vision loss are able to live their lives to the fullest,’’ Ms Vey said.

Access technology specialist Daniel Kaarma said adaptive technology using computer software programs or accessibility features already built into smartphones and tablets enabled the printed word to be heard or display in larger fonts.

“Books and newspapers can be downloaded onto a DAISY (Digitally Acceptable Information System) using a 3G antenna, replacing older technology like books on cassette tapes,’’ Mr Kaarma said.

Vision Australia’s Albury radio station, broadcasting on 101.7FM, has daily weekday readings from The Border Mail and Friday readings from The Weekly Times.

There is a local history program called Rear View Vision and a local events/what’s on program named The Border Buzz.

The Albury station is part of a 10 station network using volunteers to read major daily newspapers and other specialised programs for the blind and low vision community.

There are also stations in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Geelong, Mildura, Shepparton, Bendigo, Warrnambool and Warragul.