VisAbility’s ROAM Project Team has won the Outstanding Organisation category in the 2018 HESTA Community Sector Awards.
The team was recognised for developing an innovative model of remote delivery of orientation and mobility services to people who are blind or vision impaired living in regional areas.
“We really wanted a fast, efficient and effective way to help meet clients’ needs. If you imagine being blind and effectively house bound, this service helps give people their independence, which is life changing and completely transformative,” Clare says.
“Our team at ROAM came up with the idea and developed the use of the technology. There is really nothing like this program anywhere else in the world.
“I am just so proud of our team who are really showing that we can lead the world in helping people who are blind or visually impaired connect with their community and the world around them.”
VisAbility is a leading provider of disability services specialising in supporting people who are blind or vision impaired. Formerly the Association for the Blind of WA, VisAbility has provided innovative, life-changing services to West Australians for more than 100 years.
VisAbility is one of the few providers of orientation and mobility (O&M) services to blind and vision impaired clients in WA. This highly specialised skill is not taught in WA, resulting in O&M specialists being in short supply. Regional clients typically would have to wait months for O&M instruction.
For the last three years, the ROAM team has developed a way to provide instruction from their Victoria Park office via a video hook up with their regional clients. A blind or vision impaired client uses their phone, a chest harness, headset and video conferencing software to receive real-time advice and guidance as they move around. The client has a support person present who provides guidance and instruction from the O&M specialist as required. This support person is also able to alert the specialist if there is any immediate danger that the specialist is unable to either see or prevent.
More than 30 people between the ages of five months and 87 years have participated in 67 remote O&M assessments and/or training sessions for a total of 102 hours of remote O&M service delivery.
ROAM services have been provided in various locations across Western Australia, including as far north as Kununurra right down to Esperance in the south.
Clare says the ROAM team is already planning the next phase of the program and will use the prize money to upgrade technology and to also raise awareness of the service so they can help many more people.