Resources and Further Information
Resources and research
Information on eye conditions:
Other vision related organisations:
Centre for Eye Research, Australia
Resources regarding the workplace:
American Foundation for the Blind – Career Connect – Resources for job seekers, employers, and professionals regarding employment for people who are vision impaired.
Resources regarding study:
Helping Students with Vision Impairments from USA-based Accredited School Online – provides students with visual impairments the tips and resources needed to succeed in school. Key features of the guide include: Tips for choosing the right college; An in-depth look at the top assistive technology and tools being used today.
Resources – general:
Guide for travelers with vision impairment from the USA. This information includes tips for travelers.
Guide to attending sporting events for people with a disability or special needs, from the USA. This information includes tips for people wishing to attend a large scale sporting event.
When you meet a person who is blind or vision impaired
- Don’t assume their level of vision – there are so many types of eye conditions and everyone is different.
- Don’t assume they use a guide dog or white cane – not everyone needs a mobility aid. Assessment for mobility aids is conducted by professionals called Orientation and Mobility Instructors or Guide Dog Mobility Instructors.
- Speak normally and maintain eye contact as you communicate, just as you would with anyone else.
- Introduce yourself when approaching the person and let them know when you are leaving the room so they’re not left talking to an empty room.
- If you’re not sure what to do, ASK! – “How can I help you?”, “Do you need any assistance?”
Guidelines for assisting a person who is blind or vision impaired
- Always introduce yourself. Use the person’s name so that they know you are talking to them.
- If they are accompanied by another person, don’t assume that they will provide all assistance needed or that they are acting on behalf of the blind person.
- Always let the person know when you have come into or are about to leave the room.
- Avoid leaving the person in an open space, direct the person to a seat, or counter, or somewhere more appropriate to wait or talk.
- Speak normally. No need to shout or speak slowly – they’ll let you know if they’re hearing impaired as well.
- Always ask whether the person wants your help. Avoid jumping in to do things before asking the person first.
- Be specific when giving directions. Avoid using terms like “over there”, or pointing. Try to give clear instructions.
- Let the person know if there are any changes to the environment, e.g. if furniture has been rearranged.
- Be yourself! Feel comfortable using words like ‘see’, e.g. “see you later”.
- Look them in the eye when communicating, as you would with anyone else.
Sight Guide Assistance The level of sighted guide assistance should be appropriate to the situation and person. The person providing sighted guidance must plan ahead to anticipate any real or potential risks to safety. The provision of a sighted guide should not be assumed by either party; it should be requested or offered. Verbal Assistance The provision of accurate and descriptive information about the environment. Physical Assistance The person who is blind / vision impaired may hold the sighted person’s arm, just above the elbow and remain in constant contact. The sighted person should be one step ahead. Walking side-by-side & ‘brushing’ arms may be adequate. Guide Dogs Tasmania provides specialist professional services to Tasmanians who are blind or vision impaired. For further information, contact 1800 484 333.
For post compulsory education students
Students studying courses such as Disability Services, Aged Care or Social Work may require information about the range of services available to people who are blind or vision impaired. Information may also be required about types of vision loss, how to assist a vision impaired person or how to refer them for services. Please refer to the information about GDT Services:
- Orientation and Mobility
- Life Skills
- Guide Dogs
- Adaptive Technology
- Refer also to: Blindfold / Sighted Guide Experiential Exercise
Possible Project Topics:
- Blindness & vision impairment – types of eye conditions
- Guide dogs – see GDT services: Guide Dog Services and FAQs
- Services for blind /VI people – see GDT Services
High school student activities:
- Research the Paralympics, the World Blind Games, goal ball or athletes who are blind.
- There are many interesting videos of blind athletes and sports on YouTube. See also www.blindsport.com.au
- Research occupations of people who specialize in vision and/or vision impairment such as: Orientation and Mobility Instructor, Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, Orthoptist or Vision Resource Teacher.
- Find out what qualifications are required for each profession, where courses may be undertaken, where each type of professional may be employed.
- Research Louis Braille & the history of Braille, Helen Keller, or Deaf-Blind sign language.
- Learn how to provide sighted guide assistance to a person with impaired vision and practice in pairs around the school campus.
- Find out about adaptive technology for people with impaired vision: Humanware, Quantum, Pacific Vision.
Primary school student activities:
- Go to different areas of school sit with eyes closed/blindfolded and listen to all the noises you can hear and the take note of the different smells.
- Write a list of all the sounds and smells.
- Have a discussion about how you could use your senses (other than sight) to find locations around the school or community.
- Do a community walk to find things that help people who are vision impaired: Braille on signs, audio-tactile signals at traffic lights, tactile ground surface indicators at road crossings, steps or bus stops.
- Learn the Braille alphabet
- Research Louis Braille & the history of Braille, Helen Keller, Deaf-Blind sign language.
- Learn how to provide sighted guide assistance to a person with impaired vision.
- Make a tactile map of the classroom or school using everyday items stuck to cardboard to indicate walls, furniture etc…
Activity: Blindfold / Sighted Guide Experiential Exercise
Vision loss affects a person’s ability to perform daily activities such as walking, preparing meals or using a computer. However, specialist services are available to provide information, training and support to enable the person to be independent. People who are vision impaired may perform some activities differently (eg: tell the time with a talking watch or use a white cane for mobility) but they are people like us who may live alone, study at University, work full-time, have families or travel overseas. Everyone is different!
If it is your job to guide the person wearing a blindfold, you are responsible for safely moving with them around the environment, anticipating hazards (eg: stairs or head-height obstacles) and perhaps providing them with descriptive information about what’s around them. Allow the blindfolded person to stand beside you and hold your arm just above the elbow. Do not push, pull or hold on to them. Don’t play guessing games (eg: “Guess who this is?!!”). Work as a team and ask what sort of descriptive information they may require.
Some people find wearing a blindfold confronting and scary. In reality, it is very rare for someone to lose all their vision so suddenly. Many people lose vision gradually and often retain a small amount of useful vision: patches of vision that may allow them to read large print or maybe only to see shape or colour. Rather than dwell on how difficult you think it must be when people lose vision, consider the skills that may be learned to compensate for low vision. Listen to the sounds around you: What do you hear? From which direction are sounds coming? How could this information give you clues about where you are and which direction you are travelling? Feel the ground beneath your feet: What type of surface are you walking on? Do you notice when you walk up or down a ramp or on uneven ground? How could this information give you clues about where you are? As you hold the arm of your guide, notice any change in the movement of their body: are they turning left or right? Are they walking in a straight line or weaving around furniture or obstacles? How familiar are you with the area? Do you have a mental picture / map of the area in your mind? Consider how easily you can walk around your own house at night without the lights on. Teaching someone the layout of an area can enable them to move around safely and independently.