ACT politicians and media personalities have experienced the unique opportunity of walking through Canberra's CBD with a Guide Dog while under blindfold.
The National Disability Service (NDS), with support from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, ran the blindfold challenge to highlight how the right support services can enable people with a disability to live as independently as possible.
The challenge also aimed to raise awareness of a conference later this month about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), now in the seventh month of its trial in the ACT. The NDIS: Change, Challenge and Choice Conference, is being run from 23-24 March at the National Convention Centre.
"Through the blindfold challenge, we want to publicise the importance and possibility of inclusion of people with disability in the community," said Stephen Fox, NDS ACT Manager.
"One key driver for inclusion is the NDIS, which is rapidly bringing changes, opportunities and choices to people with disability where they previously had none, or many fewer.
"However, despite the wide range of activities and opportunities to learn about the scheme that have been held-to-date, many ACT residents are still unsure and unclear about what the NDIS is, how it will impact on them and how they can engage with it.
"The NDIS: Change, Challenge and Choice Conference will be a great opportunity for ACT residents to become better informed about the scheme and to discuss and learn how to best take advantage of the opportunities it is bringing.
"We're grateful to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT's support in running today's blindfold challenge to help us demonstrate that aids and equipment, support and attitudes can make a real difference."
The blindfold challenge will see participants walk through Civic Square under blindfold while using a Guide Dog and/or long white cane, being supervised by an experienced Orientation and Mobility Instructor from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.
"Vision loss can be a challenging disability, but a Guide Dog or a long white cane can change someone's life, as we hope the blindfold challenge will demonstrate," says Karyn Willins, Acting Regional Manager for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT in Canberra.
"As a registered NDIS service provider, we're looking forward to the upcoming NDIS conference and the continued roll-out of the scheme in the ACT.
"We're encouraging local residents who are blind or vision impaired, and who meet the NDIS eligibility criteria of being aged 65 and under to apply for funding to access our services. This will enable us to continue to provide high-quality services free-of-charge to people who don't meet the eligibility criteria, which is the majority of our clients given vision loss is a largely age-related disability."
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has been working across the ACT for over 25 years to enable local residents to safely and independently get around, so they can live the life they choose. In the past six months, the organisation's Canberra team of Orientation and Mobility Instructors have provided around 500 programs for ACT residents with impaired vision.
"We have a strong presence in the ACT with our team travelling across the region to provide one-on-one programs to residents with impaired vision in their homes or at work or school or wherever they need training," added Mrs Willins.
For more information:
- NDIS: Change, Challenge and Choice Conference visit www.ndis-conference.com.au
- NDIS visit www.ndis.gov.au
- Guide Dogs NSW/ACT's local services, contact the Canberra office on 6285 2988 or visit www.guidedogs.com.au
- NDS visit www.nds.org.au
Sally Edgar,+61 0413 753 241, firstname.lastname@example.org
About Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is the leading provider of Guide Dogs and orientation and mobility (white cane) services to enable people with impaired vision to get around their communities independently. Services include providing training and aids including long canes, Guide Dogs and electronic travel devices such as talking GPS technology. Visit www.guidedogs.com.au, call 1800 804 805, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.