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Big Visions, an initiative by Vision Australia, is a set of three children’s books that explore the individual stories of inspirational, successful Australians living with blindness or low vision.

The books aim to help change expectations of what children and young people who are blind or have low vision can achieve to build strong foundations for life.

The first book of the series titled Surfing in the Dark, portrays the story of Matt Formston, from losing 95% of his vision at the age of five, to be coming a 3 x World Champion para-surfer, Paralympian and successful businessman, in an aim to create an inspiring role model for children of all abilities to look up to.

Matt speaks to the launch of the book, cementing the importance of the Big Visions campaign and how they have the power to not only influence people living with blindness or low vision, but to educate the wider society about the misconceptions of vision impairment.

“When I was 5, I was told that I would never play sport and that my career aspirations were essentially unattainable. My family and I decided that this wasn’t good enough. The words “Matt can’t do that” didn’t exist," Matt said.

“From here, I developed an inherit belief in what I can do. I want to share that strength, desire and guidance to children and young people. I want them to see themselves in my story so that they don’t ever feel like they aren’t good enough to achieve their dreams.”

"The front cover of Surfing in the Dark featuring Matt Formston on a Surfboard"
Caption: Surfing in the Dark depicts the story of Matt Formston, Vision Australia ambassador, world champion surfer and more. 

To encourage inclusion and participation, the Big Visions books include braille, so children with blindness or low vision can read along with their friends, teachers, and family.

Ron Hooton, Vision Australia CEO, said Vision Australia is dedicated to supporting and adding value to the lives of people living with blindness and low vision, and a key priority is to get the Big Visions books into the hands of libraries, schools, teachers and families.

“We want to challenge the stigma associated with the capabilities of blind and low vision individuals, and the Big Visions books are an initiative to drive this change and start important conversations around inclusion. We want the powerful stories of these inspirational Australians to pave the way for people living with blindness or low vision, and to show children and young people that they can achieve success," Ron said. 

Sales from the Big Visions series go back into Vision Australia, so that the initiative can continue share new stories of inspiring low vision or blind Australians, working together to make generational change.

The following books of the series include Craig Shanahan’s Cooking Up a Storm, and Nikki Hind’s Dressed for Success, each portraying the incredible stories and achievements within the hospitality and fashion world respectively. 

Big Visions is published in partnership by Vision Australia and Berbay Books, with well-known illustrator Philip Bunting bringing Matt's story to life in Surfing in the Dark.

The Big Visions book are available across leading Australian retailers from 8 March 2023.

For media enquiries and interview opportunities, please contact AMPR:
Amber Browning | Communications Manager
[email protected]
0423 517 182

Sarah McGlashan | Communications Executive
[email protected]
0408 302 555

About Vision Australia

Vision Australia is a leading national provider of blindness and low vision services. We work with Australians who are blind or have low vision, helping them live the life they choose.

We support more than 35,000 people of all ages and circumstances. We do this through our online services and at Vision Australia centres. These are located in Victoria, New South Wales, the ACT, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. We also offer outreach programs in the Northern Territory and Tasmania.

We are a not-for-profit organisation. We’re also a major participant and partner in the international blindness community.

About Matt Formston

Matt Formston is a Paralympian, professional surfer, business executive, a 3 x World Champion Para Surfer, former Wolrld Champion Track Tandem Cyclist and World Record Holder.