3 Overview of Association services
5 Membership and Service Access Fee
6 Children and Family Services
6 Early Intervention Program
7 Services for School Aged Children
8 Services for School-Leavers
9 Family and Children‟s Services Team Members
13 Vision Management Centre Services for Children
14 Training, Employment and Information Services for Children and Young
16 Geoff Gallop Braille and Talking Book Library
17 Recreation Services
18 Measurement of Vision
19 Common Eye Conditions and Causes of Vision Loss and Blindness 25 Parents Share Their Stories
34 What to expect from the Association – Policies and Procedures
43 Bibliography and Recommended Reading
About this booklet…
Through this information we aim to provide families who have been referred to us with a description of services available to children through the Association for the
Blind. This booklet was created at the suggestion of parents who have children with vision impairment.
A separate booklet, “Guide to Community Resources: For children who are
blind or vision impaired and their families”, provides information about
specialist and general parent support services available in the community. This
is published separately and is available from the Association for the Blind of WA.
Parents are usually very well prepared for the birth of their baby and often have a picture in their minds about what their child will be like. They are rarely prepared for the possibility of their child having a disability. When the diagnosis is made, either at birth or sometime later (some children may lose vision later in life), it can be a devastating experience.
Parents are not only faced with coming to terms with their own range of emotions, but may also have to cope with the reactions of their other children, extended family members, friends and the wider community. At the same time they are often dealing with the medical profession and coping with the demands of just being a parent.
Some parents are anxious to be made aware of the full range of services and resources available to their child from birth (such as schooling, skills training, adaptive technology and vocational opportunities etc) whilst others are solely focussed on the immediate needs of their baby or young child.
There is a wealth of information and support available from a variety of sources including parents who have a child with a vision impairment and adults who have a vision impairment themselves. People who are vision impaired, can provide positive role models and first hand accounts of how they adapt to vision impairment.
This booklet is available for you to refer to as your child develops and grows, and the needs of your child and family change.
Remember that with your guidance, your child will develop and grow and reach his or her potential, in his or her own unique way with the dedicated help of family, friends, therapists and teachers.
OVERVIEW OF ASSOCIATION SERVICES
Since 1913 the Association for the Blind of WA has been providing a wide range of services to Western Australians who are vision impaired or blind.
Our professional team offers specialist skills, training and advice to help those with a vision impairment gain confidence and achieve fulfilled and independent lives. Each year, more than 3500 people take advantage of the services provided by the Association for the Blind. These services include:
Children and Family Services including:
; Occupational Therapy
; Social Work
; Speech Pathology
; Lotterywest Children‟s Centre
; Orientation and Mobility Instruction
; Program / Activities Officer
; Library Resource Centre, Children‟s Library
The Children and Family Services team works with children to develop physical coordination, language and cognitive skills, social and daily living skills, and also provides support for families.
For more detail see Children and Family Services team members on page 9.
Vision Management Services including:
; The Vision Management Centre has optometrists and orthoptists
who advise on how to make the most of any vision a person may have.
; Orientation and Mobility instructors teach people to move around
safely and independently. They may use white canes, guide dogs or
; Social Workers and Field Officers offer assistance with the emotional
and practical aspects of vision loss.
; Occupational Therapists give support and training in daily living skills -
ranging from household management to personal care.
Geoff Gallop Braille and Talking Book Library
; Production of Braille and audio copies of books, textbooks and special
; Library Resource Centre specifically for children including Braille, tactile
and talking books for children and young adults, and toys and games.
There is also reference materials for parents and carers.
Training, Employment and Information Services
; Training in computing, keyboard skills and the latest communications
equipment. The Association of the Blind is a Registered Training
; Braille instruction
; Information about adaptive equipment
; Technical advice for people entering the workforce who need special
; Advocacy, advice and support to help people who are vision impaired to
obtain employment, succeed in the open workforce and successfully
access higher education opportunities.
Confident Living Program
; Training and support in a wide range of leisure, sport and recreational
pursuits for adult clients.
; There are centre-based activities in the Leisure Centre and a fully-
equipped gymnasium supported by program officers and recreation
As the principal provider of services to Western Australians who are blind or vision impaired, the Association has an obligation to ensure that we can provide our consumers with quality and relevant services now and into the future.
Along with most other charitable groups in the not-for-profit sector throughout Australia, we are facing increased pressures for professionalism and accountability and to raise funds for basic, unfunded services.
In order to access services, clients are required to become a member of the Association at a cost of $11 per financial year. All services of the Association listed on the previous pages are covered by this membership.
In the case of a consumer who is a child, the parent/guardian makes payments/acts on behalf of the child.
Consumers may pay their membership fee by direct debit, cheque, money order, or credit card, or by cash if paying in person at our office.
When consumers become members, services offered by the Association will be available to them at no extra charge for one year from the date of payment. There will be a charge if a consumer buys equipment or takes part in an activity conducted for us by another organisation.
If you would like further details, please contact the Consumer Liaison Officer on (08) 9311 8202.
Children and Family Services
The Children and Family Services team provides family-centred, home-based, school-based and centre-based services which are developed and implemented in partnership with parents and in collaboration with teachers and other
A child with a vision impairment needs assistance to develop good physical coordination, language and cognitive skills, independent movement, social and daily living skills. These are essential for their success in education and all aspects of their lives.
Our team members work with parents to develop an individual program which will enable your child, blind or vision impaired, to achieve his or her full potential. We are also available to work with anyone involved in the care of your child. Practical and emotional support is also available to children and their families as they adjust to the impact of their vision impairment or of their family member.
While many services are carried out in the child‟s home and the community, for
example in child care centres, we also offer activities and programs at our premises in Victoria Park. We also visit children in rural areas and provide links to local service providers.
Services are provided to children from birth to 18 years of age and to their families.
Early Intervention Program
Early Intervention, in an enriched and stimulating environment, is the key to positive outcomes for your child and a launching pad for life - the earlier we begin, the more we can achieve together.
The Early Intervention program provides therapy, education, information and support services for children aged 0 - 6 with a vision impairment, and their families, in a manner that acknowledges the family‟s individual needs. Services
and programs include:
; Functional Vision Assessments
; Individualised developmental programs
; Developmental assessments
; Small group programs
; On-site Kindergarten for 3 and 4 year olds in the Perron Early Learning
Centre (see separate information booklet)
; Orientation and Mobility training
; Library services – books (reference materials for carers, plus Braille, tactile
and talking books for children and young adults), and toys and games ; Family support through counselling, support groups, information sessions,
parent seminars, family fun days or by linking families with each other. ; Information about community resources and various entitlements, including
pensions and concessions, and advocacy as required.
; Specialist information and support to families, playgroups, childcare centres,
schools and other agencies
; Referrals to other agencies
School Age Program
The school age program provides services to children from the time they enter year one until they leave school. Services are provided at home, school, the Lotterywest Children‟s Centre or any community setting your child may be attending.
; The Association for the Blind Vision Management Centre provides Low
Vision assessments and advice on low vision aids.
; Individualised skills assessments and development programs.
; Social and life skills development programs, including SALSA
programme and annual camp.
; Orientation and Mobility training.
; Family and individual support through counselling, information, and
linking families for peer support.
; Library services (as above).
; Recreation services including Saturday Program (eg: sport, art,
independence skills), Lotterywest Children‟s Centre (eg: Mega Theatre)
and Fun Club school holiday program.
; Training, Employment and Information Services - adaptive technology
demonstrations, assessments, advice and training.
; Specialist information and support for families, teachers, schools and
; Resource information, pension and concession advice, advocacy and
referrals to other agencies.
Services for School-leavers
; Information about vision impairment and the Association for the Blind services ; Referrals to services provided by the Association for the Blind:
- Vision Management Centre - Low Vision Assessment.
- Training, Employment and Information Services – post-secondary support
and vocational services including educational and employment advocacy;
technical information about adaptive equipment and support for its use.
- Peer support programs.
- Library Services.
- Recreation Services.
- Occupational therapy services - support and training in daily living skills.
- Social work services: counselling, resource information, pension and
concession advice, advocacy and referrals to other agencies.
- Orientation and mobility training.
Eligibility for Services
The Association accepts referrals from parents, carers, medical professionals, and teachers, with parental consent. In order to receive services children must have both:
; a vision impairment that cannot be fully corrected with spectacles
; current or potential future functional difficulties resulting from vision
Children who are eligible for services based on their vision impairment, and who are not receiving services from another therapy service, are able to access the full range of Association services. Children receiving services from other organisations are able to access Orthoptic and/or Orientation and Mobility Services in order to provide support to families and their primary therapists.
Children and Family Services receive some Government funding through the Disability Services Commission. This funding requires the Association of the
Blind to provide information on what it does and to whom it provides services. This information is always treated with strict adherence to privacy. Periodically, the Disability Services Commission may request parents involvement in monitoring the quality of the service they are accessing.
Services to non-Australian residents will incur full fees. Please discuss this with your service coordinator.
The occupational therapist assesses a child‟s development and how it may be affected by vision impairment. With a young child the occupational therapist uses play, and specialised and everyday activities to look at the child‟s ability to use their hands and to interact with other people and their environment.
The occupational therapist is able to provide support, as needed, to the child and their family/carers within the home and community, including playgroup, childcare, kindergarten and school.
Skills addressed include fine motor skills (drawing, cutting and using two hands together); visual skills (interpreting what is seen); cognitive skills (memory, sequencing, concepts such as shapes, body image, spatial awareness, categories etc), socialisation, sensory-motor (coordination and sensation awareness) and self help skills (mealtimes, bath times, dressing etc).
Therapy is also provided through small group programs run with other team members.
An orthoptist is an allied health professional who is involved in the assessment, diagnosis and management of vision disorders.
Orthoptists can assess the vision of children aged 0 to 18 yrs. When assessing school aged children, the orthoptist works with the optometrist in the Vision Management Centre.
For infants and toddlers or for those children with multiple disabilities, a Functional Vision Assessment is often undertaken by the orthoptist.
The orthoptist assesses the child‟s vision and provides information about what the child can see and how best use can be made of what vision the child has. The orthoptist works closely with the parents/caregivers and other team members to assist in explaining specific eye conditions, the possible implications and impact of specific vision defects on daily function, and responding to any vision concerns regarding the child‟s eye condition.
As appropriate, the orthoptist can provide sensory stimulation ideas, advice on the appropriate print size needed, suitable lighting, contrast, seating, etc. The orthoptist can also give advice on providing the best environment that supports the needs of the child or help facilitate individual education programs to maximise the functional use of vision.
The orthoptist can liaise with other agencies, therapists, teachers, doctors etc. and provide information as part of a multi-disciplinary assessment which contributes to the educational planning and general development of the child, with the aim of helping the child to achieve his or her full vision potential.
The physiotherapist conducts home visits to children aged 0 - 6 years, to monitor and provide ideas to stimulate the child‟s gross motor development and to
provide caregivers with techniques to stimulate vision.
Caregivers may also be taught baby massage and handling skills.
The physiotherapist periodically provides a variety of small group programs, including hydrotherapy sessions with parental participation in a community setting, and joint occupational therapy/physiotherapy gross motor programs.
Children are also seen by the physiotherapist at the Children‟s Centre at the Early Intervention playgroup.
The physiotherapist additionally provides a consultancy service to other organisations that may be primary service providers, and also updates and helps maintain resources required by clients.