Bridging the digital divide for people with low vision

Bridging the digital divide for people with low vision

Good Things Foundation’s new digital inclusion program in partnership with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

September 2023

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 even more accessible for all.

Why is this project important?

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.

What is low vision?

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.

What is 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.

Why are we partnering 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.

How can I get involved?

Anyone can take part in Get Online Week and host an inclusive and accessible digital skills event for people in their community. Order our free event marketing pack to support your event.

Our pilot project to support people with low vision will be running in 5 communities in 2023 - 2024.

Use our existing resources and guides to help make your digital skills programs more inclusive and accessible for all.

Are resources available to everyone?

We are working hard to make our resources as inclusive as possible for everyone, and our programs adaptable to meet people’s individual needs. The best resources we use and create in this project will be made available to our network for anyone to use.

Already we have a few interesting resources that are available for you to use right now:

Create an accessible event

This is a guide made by our partners, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, to help you make your events more accessible. Review the checklist and all the elements you need to consider.

Make your device easier to use tipsheet

With our partners Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, we have created a short tipsheet you can share with your learners and event attendees to help them know about the accessibility features that can make their device easier to use. Article available online and in larger print for you to print off

Creating Accessible Learning Spaces Part 1 - Documents

This is a series of four articles on Creating Accessible Learning Spaces. The series pulls together insights shared by you, our network, as well as industry experts.

Our first article gives important tips on how to create accessible documents that are usable and understandable by everyone.

Creating Accessible Learning Spaces Part 2 -Assistive technology

In part two of our four-article series on Accessibility, we will look at the various types of assistive technology that are available to our learners. Using these technologies, we can create a more inclusive and accessible learning environment for all.

Applications open 3 July 2023. $1,000 grants to host an event during Get Online Week (16-22 October 2023).

Start up or expand your Be Connected digital skills program with up to $10,000 in grants available.

Grants of $20,000 to support migrant and refugee women.