Tiffany Mitchell has spent the last 20 years working to help people who are blind or have low vision to safely and independently navigate their surroundings.
Tiffany is a Vision Australia orientation and mobility specialist and has been with the organisation for around six months, having previously worked at other blindness and low vision organisations.
Tiffany’s passion for supporting people who are blind or have low vision has been with her from a young age and she enjoys a career that lets her support people to live independent and fulfilling lives.
“When I was about 14 I met a man on the bus who was blind. I remember having a really in depth conversation with him about his vision and how he moves around Balmain,” Tiffany said.
“I’ve always believed in equality for people and that’s what has driven me down this path,” she said.
Tiffany provides training to Vision Australia clients to ensure they have the skills and equipment so they are able to safely travel wherever they want to go.
“I help people develop their white cane skills and their road crossing skills, we do orientation to specific places that a client wants to get to, and I offer training in the use of electronic aids including GPS apps,” she said
“I also offer travel training, which includes teaching people to use public transport safely.”
Tiffany said her clients often want to learn routes to places they go regularly, such as work. After this, clients then may want to learn how to navigate more unfamiliar surroundings.
“I think if people haven’t taken on the challenge of exploring their environment or using public transport they’re often fearful of it.
“Having said that, if I can develop a really good rapport with a person they will trust me enough to slowly build up their travel skills in small steps.
“I love developing people’s skills and seeing them prove to themselves that they can be independent.”
Tiffany is currently working with clients via telehealth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While she does miss working directly with clients, Tiffany and her fellow orientation and mobility specialists are still able to have a positive impact in the lives of their clients.
“One good thing that has come out of delivering services via telehealth is you can do those initial interviews and assessments either by Zoom or on the telephone to start building that rapport.
“Having orientation and mobility services via telehealth has also meant that our client’s families have been able to be part of the training sessions.
“This means that often people are encouraged to practice the skills they’ve learnt in the sessions and it can lead to clients feeling less nervous during the training.”