Vision Australia

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Vision Australia is a not-for-profit organisation and Australia's largest provider of services for people with blindness and low vision.

Vision and mission[edit]

Vision Australia describes itself as a living partnership between people who are blind, sighted or have low vision, and who are united by the passion that in the future people who are blind or have low vision will have access to and fully participate in every part of life they choose.[1]

Vision Australia aims to achieve this by creating a community partnership of knowledge, skills and expertise to enrich the participation in life of people who are blind or have low vision and their families.[1]

Background[edit]

Vision Australia was created in 2004 through the merger of 4 smaller blindness organisations: the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (RVIB), Vision Australia Foundation (VAF), The Royal Blind Society (RBS), The National Information Library Service (NILS).

At the time Bills needed to be passed through the parliaments of Victoria and New South Wales for this to occur.[2][3][4][5]

In 2006 the organisation was further expanded with the merger of the Royal Blind Foundation Queensland. This merger gave it complete reach across the eastern states of Australia.[6]

In February 2008 it was announced that the Seeing Eye Dogs Australia (SEDA) would also merge with Vision Australia by the end of June 2008.[7]

The inclusion of guide dog services will mean that for the first time in the history of the blindness community of Australia, one national organisation will be able to provide all the services required by the blindness and low vision community.

Services[edit]

The following blindness and low vision services are listed on the Vision Australia website:[8]

History and heritage collection[edit]

The organisations that merged to form Vision Australia have a long and proud history of providing services to the blindness and low vision community in Australia. The history of Vision Australia’s founding organisations go back over 140 years to the late 1800s and cover much of the struggle for better rights and services for Australia's blind and low vision community.[10]

Given this long history, Vision Australia has a very extensive heritage collection including many objects and images pertaining to the story and history of the blindness community in Australia.[11][12][13][14]

Carols by Candlelight[edit]

Main article: Carols by Candlelight

Vision Australia's Carols by Candlelight is the organisations leading fundraising and awareness campaign and is one of the most loved of Australian Christmas traditions. Dating back to 1938, it is held on Christmas Eve at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne and reaches a television audience of more than 2 million Australians each year.

All proceeds from this event go towards Vision Australia's Children's Services.

Over the years there have been many Australian favourites who have performed at this event including Rolf Harris, Hugh Jackman, Tina Arena, John Farnham, Debra Byrne, Olivia Newton-John, Lee Kernaghan, Judith Durham, Marina Prior, Denis Walter, Douglas Heywood, Silvie Paladino, Hi-5, Humphrey B Bear, Anthony Callea and of course long-time host Ray Martin.

Other supporters of this beloved concert include Myer, Nine Network, 3AW, Magic 1278 and The Herald Sun.

DAISY[edit]

DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information System. It is a format based on the W3C defined SGML applications XHTML 1.0 and SMIL 1.0. Using this framework, a talking book format is presented that enables navigation within a sequential and hierarchical structure consisting of (marked-up) text synchronized with audio.

Vision Australia is currently in the process of digitising and updating its entire library catalogue to the DAISY format for the benefit of its clients. Vision Australia is listed as a member of the DAISY Consortium.[15]

One of the issues associated with digitising the existing library is managing the massive amounts of computer storage that it will require. At present Vision Australia has a 40-terabyte library that can be scaled to 100 terabytes. Ultimately the organization's goal is to have its library available as online downloads for its community.[16][17]

E-voting[edit]

A great win for Vision Australia's Policy and Advocacy department was the introduction of Electronic voting (or E-voting) at the Victoria State Elections in 2007. For the first time in Australian history, people who were blind were able to vote in secrecy and independently. The Victorian Electoral Commission's e-voting system was set up in response to submissions for electoral reform by Vision Australia and Blind Citizens Australia.[18]

Australian Charities Fund[edit]

Vision Australia is listed in the Australian Charities Fund and an overview of their organisation and services is provided there.[19]

Partnerships and memberships[edit]

Vision Australia's Information Library Service is listed in the National Library of Australia Catalogue.[20] Vision Australia is also a member of Vision 2020[21] and the DAISY Consortium.[15]

Vision Australia has signed Memorandums of Understanding with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (Canada) and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (UK).

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]