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Accessibility

The concept of accessibility is becoming a lot more prominent in today’s society. Although in many ways it can be said that there is room for improvement, the incorporation of this notion is seen in many important areas such as transport, education, work and increasingly, recreational activities

 

Accessibility – Transport

Being able to travel about independently is a right in itself but this may not always be the case for someone who is visually impaired or blind, as the experience can be quite challenging and even daunting. There are however, many strategies that can be implemented to alleviate the stress or difficulties experience when travelling with little or no sight. Some of these are using transport apps to determine which train to catch, utilising navigation apps to identify your current location, asking the bus driver to notify you when to get off, listening out for announcements and etc. Further to this, seeking assistance can be helpful as railway and bus staff are often trained by professionals on issues relating to how best to directly and indirectly assist in a blind or visually impaired persons’ travel journey. Plus of course, there is always the option of seeking Guide Dogs orientation and mobility services where you can work with an instructor to learn and familiarise yourself with necessary routes and strategies to travel independently and safely.

Man listening to navigation app on phone before boarding bus

People who are considered legally blind or completely blind are eligible to attain the ‘Vision Impairment Persons (VIP)’ pass which grants access to free transport on buses, trains, light rail and ferries. Eligibility differs from person to person, but the VIP pass also may grant an extra attendee free transport when accompanying the person who is legally or fully blind. To find out more information about pass entitlements, see if you are eligible or to apply, please click here.

Vision Impairment Person Travel Pass

Accessibility – Education

There is no reason why a person who has low or no vision can’t study and attain an education. Australian legislations such as the Disability Discrimination Act 1993, ensures that all students (including students that are visually impaired or blind) have the rights to teaching and learning materials such as textbooks, worksheets and etc. Whether an education is pursued at a primary, secondary or tertiary level, the educational provider is obliged to deliver all necessary resources in an accessible format. To increase the likelihood of this, students may be provided with third party complimentary assistance such as a teacher’s aid, a note-taker or itinerant vision support teacher. Further to this, students may be eligible for funding to purchase assistive equipment that can convert materials to make it accessible for them.

Visually impaired child reading a braille book

Accessibility – Work

The workforce is probably the area where people who have a vision impairment or are blind have the most anecdotal evidence of a lack of accessibility. Although, thanks to regulatory bodies and policies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) 1987 and legislations mentioned above, employers are increasingly willing to make their workplaces more accessible to all workers.

high contrast stickers on a keyboard

Accessibility in the work environment for someone who has little or no vision can equate to many things but may generally mean the installation of a screen reader/magnifier on their work computer, the use of large print stickers to label objects, stuck on colour or tactile indicators to identify certain button functions, raised and well located lift call buttons, tactile ground surface indicators and/or nosing on stairs to avoid safety hazards and much more. These accessibility examples are considered as ‘reasonable adjustments’ and funding for this is provided by the Government through ‘Job Access’. Applications for an assessment and further installation of your tailored reasonable adjustments will usually occur once you have secured the job.

man sitting at computer with a screen reader

 

On this website there are a few useful articles you can find on jobs and disability:

  • Click here to read more about reasonable adjustments.
  • Click here to read about disclosing.
  • Click here about how people who are blind or visually impaired are considered to be an ‘untapped workforce’.