Improving access to low vision aids and technology
Following the Productivity Commission’s Disability Care and Support report in 2011, recommending the exclusion of older Australians from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the programs that support people with a disability in Australia were largely separated into:
- NDIS – for people who acquire a disability under the age of 65
- aged care system – for people who acquire a disability at the age of 65 or over, and
- state and territory government programs – for people with a disability who are ineligible for both the NDIS and aged care system.
Across these three systems, there continues to be barriers and challenges that result in people with the same eye condition and level of vision loss being provided with inconsistent access to disability support services, including low vision aids and technologies.
In early 2016, MDFA commissioned The George Institute for Global Health to undertake desk research to elevate MDFA’s baseline of data and client case studies. The result was the report, Low Vision, quality of life and independence: A review of the evidence on aids and technologies.
The report highlights the evidence base supporting the benefits of aids and technologies for those with vision loss and blindness so they can connect and engage with the world, maintain independence and enhance quality of life.
However, despite these benefits, there are barriers to accessing low vision aids in this country. This is particularly for those most in need, the 100,000 older Australians with vision loss and blindness. The major barrier is cost.
A key recommendation from this report was the establishment of a nationally funded, accessible, affordable and consistent low vision aids and equipment program to replace the current state/territory government programs. This would provide equitable access to low vision aids and technologies for all Australians with vision loss or blindness, regardless of their age or where they live.
MDFA continues to advocate to the Commonwealth, state and territory governments for the establishment of this national low vision aids and technologies program similar to the National Hearing Initiative.
Posted: 2 March 2021