Vision Australia

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

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 [http://www.visionaustralia.org.au/info.aspx?page=925 Our Values - About Us - Vision Australia ] ] .

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.

Background

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 [ [http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/Parlment/HansArt.nsf/V3Key/LC20051110050 Royal Blind Society (Merger) Bill - 10/11/2005 - 2R - NSW Parliament ] ] [ [http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/bill/rviftbaoab2005621/ ROYAL VICTORIAN INSTITUTE FOR THE BLIND AND OTHER AGENCIES (MERGER) BILL 2005 ] ] [www.parliament.vic.gov.au/emc/2006%20State%20Election/Submissions/14_Vision_Australia.pdf] [ [http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/NSWBills.nsf/0/CDE1E80BE0A3DA46CA25709E001F7F7F?Open&shownotes Royal Blind Society (Merger) Bill 2005 - NSW Parliament ] ] .

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 [http://www.nds.org.au/National/blindness/archive/2006-07/ABFUpdate-Dec06.txt] .

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 [http://www.seda.org.au/SEDA_events_and_news_SEDA_news_room.html] .

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

The following blindness and low vision services are listed on the Vision Australia website: [ [http://www.visionaustralia.org.au/info.aspx?page=587 Services - Vision Australia ] ]

*Access Advice
*Accessible Information Solutions
*Audio Description Services
*Audio Publishing
*Children's Services
*Community Education
*Deafblind Services
*Employment Services (Vision Australia is listed as an official JobAccess Supplier [http://www.jobaccess.gov.au/joac/Advice/SupplierOrAssessorFive/Vision_Australia.htm] )
*Equipment Solutions
*Further Education Bursaries
*Independent Living Services
*Information Library Service
*Low Vision Services
*Policy and Advocacy
*Recreation Services
*Technology and Training Solutions
*Vision Australia Radio

History and Heritage Collection

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 [ [http://www.visionaustralia.org.au/info.aspx?page=645 Our History - About Us - Vision Australia ] ] .

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 [ [http://www.nrw.qld.gov.au/museum/articles_complete/mapping/braille.html Braille mapping ] ] [ [http://archive.amol.org.au/discovernet/tales/vision.asp Discovernet: Australian Tales - Stories of Vision! ] ] [ [http://www.collectionsaustralia.net/news_item/71 CAN - Collections Australia Network - Preserving the history of Australians who are blind or vision impaired ] ] [ [http://www.pictureaustralia.org/contribute/participants/vaf.html Picture Australia | Vision Australia ] ] .

Vision Australia's 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 icnoic event include Myer, Nine Network, 3AW, Magic 1278 and The Herald Sun.

DAISY

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 it's entire library catalogue to the DAISY format for the benefit of its clients. Vision Australia is listed as a member of the DAISY Consortium [http://www.daisy.org/about_us/mem_detail.shtml?id=75 DAISY: Member Detail: Australia New Zealand Accessible Information Group ] ] .

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 [ [http://www.cio.com.au/index.php/id;525825177;fp;;fpid;;pf;1 CIO - Sweet Charity ] ] [ [http://www.hyro.com/en/Technical-Development/Projects/Pages/Vision_Australia.aspx Vision Australia ] ] .

E-Voting

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 [ [http://www.theage.com.au/news/technology/victoria-puts-blind-faith-in-electronic-voting/2006/11/13/1163266481851.html?page=fullpage Victoria puts blind faith in electronic voting - Technology - theage.com.au ] ] .

Australian Charities Fund

Vision Australia is listed in the Australian Charities Fund and an overview of their organisation and services is provided there [ [http://www.australiancharitiesfund.org.au/index.cfm?pagename=charities&charitiesdisplaymode=display&charitiesdisplaydata=103 The Australian Charities Fund > Home ] ] .

Parnerships and Memberships

Vision Australia's Information Library Service is listed in the National Library of Australia Catalogue [ [http://nla.gov.au/anbd.bib-an7751636 Libraries Australia - Annual report / Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind ] ] . Vision Australia is also a member of Vision 2020 [ [http://www.vision2020australia.org.au/members-member-list.cfm Member List/Links - Members - Vision 2020 Australia ] ] and the DAISY Consortium.

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

Notes and References

External links

* [http://www.visionaustralia.org.au/ Vision Australia Website]


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