Internet, technology trialled to keep older Australians connected and independent

08 August 2018

Vision Australia is set to give older Australians with low vision the opportunity to use everyday technology to improve or maintain their quality of life.

The not-for-profit organisation is calling for participants for a pilot program in Western Sydney and Canberra that will provide people living with vision loss aged 65 and older with technology and training to assist them to remain independent and connected.

“At Vision Australia, we know that older people are keen to maintain their independence for as long as they can,” Vision Australia Strategic Business Development Manager Michelle Eunson said.

“If you have low vision, things like day-to-day function, connectedness and socialisation can be especially demanding. We’ve developed this pilot project to support a group of our seniors with vision loss benefit from the possibilities technology and the internet brings,” Ms Eunson said.

Participants in the program will be provided with a Samsung tablet loaded with Breezie, a software system designed for use by older people, as well as a Google Home speaker and generous data package for up to 12 months.

Vision Australia’s specialist staff will customise the devices and their settings for each participant and will provide tuition and support over the 12-month period as needed.

Participants in the program will be surveyed regularly to establish what impact the technology has had.

Ms Eunson said Vision Australia hopes the pilot program will result in improved technology solutions for older people with vision loss

“For people have low vision, it can be technology that is the key to them carrying out day to day things that sighted people might take for granted. By the end of the pilot we want an idea of what can be done to best support our community.

“Whether it’s calling family and friends, keeping a telehealth appointment, watching TV, listening to an audio book, sending emails or reading the paper, we want our clients to be able to make the most of what technology and the internet can offer.

Vision Australia is currently seeking participants to take part in the program. To be eligible, people must reside in Western Sydney or Canberra and be over the age of 65 and live with low vision.

People interested in participating in the program can register their interest by emailing visionlink@visionaustralia.org or calling 1300 84 74 66.