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Bridging the digital divide for people with low vision

We are excited to announce that we have partnered with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT to create a new digital skills program for people who have low vision and make Get Online Week (16 - 22 October) even more accessible for all.

Research has shown that people with disability use digital and social media less and are more likely to experience online safety issues such as cyber-bullying, harassment, image-based abuse and technology facilitated abuse.

For people with low vision, there is an additional barrier to digital access beyond a lack of essential digital skills and an affordable internet connection –the technical accessibility of websites and apps. Many people may also not know of the technology available to help them be independent and access the internet and information on their own terms.

This can create barriers for people in being able to communicate and equally access information online. Additionally, tailored supports and resources are needed for some people with disability to participate equally in the digital world.

Understanding low vision

‘Low vision’ is when clear vision cannot be obtained by using glasses, contact lenses, or other standard treatments like medicine or surgery. Low vision can make everyday activities such as reading, seeing the television or recognising people’s faces harder. It typically includes blurry or cloudy vision, decreased side vision, difficulty in seeing clearly at night, changes in colour or the eye’s inability to properly adjust to light, contrast or glare. 

People with low vision often need adaptations in lighting or enlarged print to read something. They may also need to use accessibility features on their smartphone, tablet or computer to make it easier to use. 

Some common causes include eye conditions such as Age-related macular degeneration, Cataracts, Diabetic eye conditions and Glaucoma.

Understanding accessibility

Accessibility is about how we make learning, information, activities and places available to everyone. Accessibility features on devices make them easier to use by adapting how they work to a person’s needs. For example, making buttons bigger or the words on the screen appear in a different colour.

Partnership with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

The Human Rights Commission describes digital exclusion for people with disability being due to multiple interlinking factors: lack of internet access, the high cost of assistive technology, digital ability, and socio-economic factors. Research has shown that people with disability use digital and social media less and are more likely to experience online safety issues such as cyber-bullying, harassment, image-based abuse and technology facilitated abuse.

We also know that many people with low vision may not know about the features that can make technology easier to use, or have the specialised support they need to get online in their community.

This is why we’re working in partnership with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, to make sure that our learning materials are accessible to everyone, our community partners have the skills they need to support people with low vision, and that no one is left behind in our digital world.

Get more information and how you can take part

Visit https://www.beconnectednetwork.org.au/news/bridge-low-vision and learn more about this program, how to get involved and check the resources available

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