Meet Kelsey: A Vision Australia orientation and mobility specialist

21 May 2020

As a Vision Australia orientation and mobility specialist, Kelsey Shekelton supports people who are blind or have low vision to learn how to safely and independently navigate their surroundings.

Twenty-eight year old Kelsey joined Vision Australia in February this year, bringing with her a passion for supporting people who are blind or have low vision that she discovered at university.

 “When I first started exploring my options for university, I knew that I wanted to teach. I didn’t quite know how exactly, but I knew that I wanted to go down that path,” Kelsey said

“I discovered a course in visual disability studies during my University orientation and I just jumped in. When I met and started working with people who are blind or have low vision, I realised that this is where I need to be and this is what I want to do,” she said.

Kelsey’s role as an orientation and mobility specialist means she works quite closely with her clients and has a significant impact on their lives

“I help them to get control over their travel, their safety and their life,” she said

“My job is really to teach clients all of the ways that they can maintain a high quality of life.”

Buliding important skills

Kelsey provides training to Vision Australia in a wide range of areas.

“Some of the things I teach include cane techniques and skills, travel skills, public transport, mapping, understanding directions and orientation to particular routes. I also teach clients to use technology to enhance their travel experience.”

Kelsey said that people often like to practice orientation to places they go to regularly.

“Most clients really enjoy learning to navigate frequented environments and accessing places of interest.

“They also enjoy learning how to use technology and learning about how using a cane can really help with daily travel.”

Confidences is key

Along with teaching clients the skills they need to travel safely, Kelsey said an important part of her role is helping clients develop their confidence.

“It’s important to encourage and help people to develop a sense of confidence, as well as teaching them all the skills and strategies of safe travel.

“I think once people get past the fear, learn some safety methods and enjoy the freedom of getting out and about with confidence, there’s nothing that can stop them.”

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic means Kelsey has had to adapt how she works, but thanks to Vision Australia’s telehealth program, she and her fellow orientation and mobility specialists have continued to support the blind and low vision community.

“Technology has been an amazing thing.

“I feel like it’s encouraged me to think outside the box and look for ways to deliver my service uniquely.”

If you are interested in accessing orientation and mobility services from Vision Australia, call 1300 84 74 66 or email info@visionaustralia.org