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While the hammers, drills and other woodworking tools being used in Vision Australia’s woodworking facilities may look and feel familiar, the woodworkers using them are a little different to most.

Each week in specialist workshops in Brisbane and Melbourne, those tools are in the hands of woodworkers with varying degrees of vision loss, from low vision through to blindness.

Under the supervision of expert woodwork instructors, participants at both locations take part in different programs depending on experience and produce a range of different completed pieces including chopping boards, outdoor bench seats, coffee tables, jewellery boxes and more.

Melbourne based Vision Australia woodwork trainer Brett Behan said the program gives people who are blind or have low vision the opportunity to pursue an interest many take for granted.

“Our participants are a mix of people who might have been keen woodworkers before losing their vision, or those who thought woodworking has always been beyond their reach due to their vision condition,” Brett said.

“What we do is create an environment where our clients can feel safe and supported to do woodworking themselves. There’s some difference between our workshops and others, but it’s the participants who are hands on with the timber and tools and who produce some great pieces of work,” he said.

"Two men put together a timber box in an an industrial worksho"
Caption: Vision Australia's woodworking workshops are a hive of activity in Melbourne and Brisbane. 

Along with working under the guidance of expert instructors and other safety measures, participants also make the most of assistive tools, such as talking tape measures to support them in the workshop.



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While the program allows participants to try different types of woodworking from furniture and cabinet-making through to woodturning, it also offers an important social outlet for participants.

“Things like woodworking groups and men’s sheds are an important part of life for many people, but for someone who is blind or has low vision they might not be the right place to start out,” Brisbane based woodwork trainer Nathan Price said.

“Our allow our clients to build their woodworking skills and learn about the different equipment and techniques that can help them, but they also allow them to do that alongside others with similar lived experience and build those important social connections,” he said.

If you're interested in trying woodwork with Vision Australia, get in touch today by calling 1300 84 74 66 or email [email protected]