An opportunity for vision impaired / blind adventurers

Vision impaired / blind adventurers are invited to join Ranquilco for the trip of a lifetime. If youʼre seeking a world beyond the familiar, this is for you!

In March of 2014, T.A. Carrithers will lead three blind riders for a 10-day pack trip into the heart of the Andean Cordillera, Argentina. The trip will include: a 3-night stay at Estancia Ranquilcoʼs lodge where the riders, guides and horses will prepare for the journey ahead; 10 days of trail riding and wilderness camping; an additional 2-night, post-trail recovery stage at the Estancia lodge. Horses, pack-mules, food + gear will be supplied, and each blind / visually impaired guest will have his/her personal guide. Pack trip and travel costs to/from Argentina are covered.

This epic, horse-powered trek will become the subject of a movie, called Blind Spot. A vision quest documentary, Blind Spot defies the conventional views on blindness to chronicle an inspirational journey of self-discovery, in search of what we see, what we canʼt see, and what we overlook.


See more at


Selection criteria for the visually-impaired / blind riders:

– The invitation is open to blind / visually-impaired women + men (must be over 18)
– Prior horseback riding or camping experience is not necessary
– Average fitness level and tolerance for unpredictable weather is preferred
– Must be available to travel to Argentina for 3 – 4 weeks in March of 2014

Share your story with us:

– Please write a brief message (+/- 150 words), or send us a video or audio recording (+/- 1 minute) that expresses your passion for joining this adventure. Weʼd love to learn what you hope to discover on the trail, what you want to bring home, and what you might leave behind…
– Deadline for entries: December 1, 2013.

For more information, or to submit your story, please contact us:

For more information about the film, please go to:

ABC Report on Audio Description Finally Released

After being delivered to the then Department of Communications, Broadband and the Digital Economy at the end of 2012, the report from the ABC on the audio description trial has finally been released to the public.
The report gives the ABC’s feedback on the technical aspects of delivering audio description (AD) in Australia’s broadcast environment. A number of key findings emerged from the report which will impact on delivery of a service in the future.
In the trial, the ABC opted for a manual system to deliver the audio description, rather than trying to incorporate the service into its automated play out systems. This was partially due to the short trial length of only 13 weeks and noted that it did not install a long-term system. The report also cited the stronger likelihood of there being errors and problems stemming from the more complex automated systems.
There were a number of problems with different set-top boxes and televisions and how they worked with audio description. In many cases the receivers had been set to play AD and it was a case of then talking through the steps to turn it off to fix the problem. In a smaller number of cases viewers were unable to turn the AD off. Various solutions were suggested for this and could be properly explored as part of a permanent service.
There were some issues about a limited choice of programming and relatively long lead times to provide AD. Again, these are not major and could be solved as part of a permanent service.
The ABC suggested that it would need a lead time for a full service to be fully implemented of up to 18 months.
Media Access Australia CEO Alex Varley said, “Whilst 18 months might seem like a long time, my understanding of that timeframe is to ensure the delivery of a fully-functioning service across all of Australia. There is always the option of rolling out a service sooner and accepting that there will be teething problems and they can be fixed as it goes along.”
Feedback from blind and vision impaired viewers showed that there was a strong level of support for the service, with thousands of viewers petitioning the ABC and Government to continue the service at the conclusion of the trial.
“Overall the report provides a good insight into the sorts of issues that broadcasters face when implementing new services across a complex technical system. These issues need to be factored in and considered in the process of putting together a permanent service,” said Varley.
Media Access Australia will provide more detailed analysis about different aspects of the report over the coming weeks. We are part of a coalition of organisations working towards a permanent audio description service on Australian television.

Download the report and Media Access’s background Paper

Media Access Study into Education for Children who are Blind or Vision Impaired

Media Access Australia has today released a landmark study into how the access needs of students who are blind or vision impaired can be met in Australian schools. Launched at the Blind Citizens Australia convention yesterday, it is hoped that the study informs how new technologies and systems are adopted.
While there is no official statistic for the number of children who are blind or vision impaired in Australia, a reasonable estimate is 4,000. The vast majority of these school age children attend mainstream schools.
The study explores how the challenge of providing access to media and technology for students who are blind or vision impaired is met across the public, Catholic and independent sectors. The study draws on interviews with mainstream and specialist teachers and service providers.
The report is a comprehensive review of how access is currently provided. Solutions range from large print text books to using pipe cleaners to mould into tactile diagrams. The report’s five expert authors then scope how mainstream technologies such as tablet computers could be used to improve learning outcomes.
The report identifies a number of factors inhibiting access to learning for students who are blind or vision impaired. These include:
• Existing structures hindering knowledge sharing between schools, sectors and states
• A lack of opportunities for coordination to prevent duplication of resources
• Copyright issues affecting the availability of texts in alternative formats
• A lack of information to help educators and education departments to adapt to technological change
Media Access Australia has a long history of work in Deaf and hearing impaired education which places us in a position to offer independent evidence based advice.
CEO and co-author Alex Varley said, “This report offers a bird’s eye view of how technology and information access are currently being provided across the country and across sectors. From this vantage point we can see the common challenges and identify practical solutions which could be adopted to improve services.”

Download the report:
Vision Education Scoping Report Final Version.docx
Vision Education Scoping Report (DOCX 3.4 MB)
Filed Under: Information

Thanks for the Votes

Have been back for a few days now, after attending the Blind Citizens Australia 2013 National Convention. And what a great convention it was; packed full of interesting topics, great information and fantastic interaction with fellow members.

At the AGM on Sunday 27 I was elected as the new President of blind Citizens Australia.

Thank you to those who voted for me, and thank you to all those who have wished me well and given their support.

It is going to be a very busy time ahead. I am ready for it and hope the leadership I provide is what the members of BCA are looking for.

President of People with Disability WA

What a busy week this has been. Board meetings and A couple of AGM’s on top of work. On Thursday 24 October, at the People with Disability Wa AGM, I was elected President of PWdWa.

Thanks to all who have given me their support, and for the many well wishes I have received.

Past President, Monica McGhie, has led the organisation with great passion and a good ear to the ground, giving PWdWA great insight into the issues being faced by Western Australian’s with a disability.

I hope to lead as well as Monica has, and with people with disability, our members and the WA community hope to position the organisation so it can continue it’s work on improveing lives and reducing barriers for all people with disability.