Guide Dogs launches assistive tech workshops in Coffs Harbour

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT met clients in Coffs Harbour for its Assistive Tech Connect workshop.

GUIDE Dogs NSW/ACT met locals for a three-day Assistive Tech Connect workshop at the Coffs Harbour Bowls Club this month.

“The workshop was designed to educate local clients about assistive tech tools that can enable them to stay connected, and make their lives easier,” Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s Belinda Latimore told News Of The Area.

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Assistive technology support is one of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s non-dog offerings and is an example of how services have extended beyond canine assistance to better support the needs of today’s blind or low vision community.

“Assistive technology is crucial because experiencing a change in vision can make it increasingly difficult to read written materials, including content on mobile phones.

“However, tech tools such as screen readers, which convert text to speech, can make things a lot easier, helping those living with low vision or blindness be more independent in achieving their goals and accessing support,” said Belinda.

Learning to use this new technology can be a big shift and quite daunting so, to assist with that transition, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has developed the new Assistive Tech Connect program, which this three-day workshop was part of.

Assistive Tech Connect offers a supportive, encouraging space to start the journey, consisting of a twelve-week program that introduces clients to screen readers on computers helping them understand basic navigation methods, basic word processing and how to access a mail application.

In addition to practical training, participants benefit from the mentorship and support of others who have made this transition before, supporting and encouraging one another as they learn.

“The recent program with clients in Coffs Harbour was really successful,” Belinda said.

“Through workshops such as these we can help to support those living with low vision or blindness, beyond our namesake canines.

“In fact, 70 percent of our services are non-dog related.

“Whether you have had a change in vision or experienced low vision long-term, services such as our Assistive Tech Connect program can help equip you with the right skills and support to achieve your goals in life,” added Belinda.

Assistive Tech Connect is a mixed delivery program including weekly Zoom sessions.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Client Mark participated in the twelve-week program to learn how to use a screen reader.

He found the course and support provided to be really beneficial.

“Learning in a group is invaluable, offering the opportunity to connect with others who understand the experience.

“It has given me confidence to know that other people struggle with this transition too, but can overcome it together,” said Mark.

If you or a family member is interested in learning more about vision support services from staff located in Coffs Harbour, please contact Guide Dogs NSW/ACT on 1800 436 364.


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