Welcome To Blind Citizens Australia

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) is the united voice of Australians who are blind or vision impaired.

Our mission is to achieve equity and equality by our empowerment, by promoting positive community attitudes, and by striving for high quality and accessible services which meet our needs.

Whether you are blind, have a vision impairment , a family member or friend of a person who is blind or vision impaired, BCA is here to assist you.

We provide information, peer support, individual and systemic advocacy, and consultancy services. Our Branches act as local lobby groups and provide opportunities for social interaction for members.

Explore our site. Learn about us. Listen to SoundAbout for profiles of people who are blind or vision impaired and those working with our community. If you are interested in audio-described TV, cinema and DVD content check out It’s Our Turn. Set your dial and tune in to our weekly radio program New Horizons. For the issues and policies that affect you, plus useful information and tips, turn to the pages of BC News or Parent News.

Contact BCA:

Toll Free:
1800 033 660

Phone:
03 9654 1400

Text:
0488 824 623

Email: Blind Citizens Australia

Donate to Blind Citizens Australia

New Horizons Podcast

New Horizons is Blind Citizens Australia’s weekly radio show. It is an interview style, with topics relevant to people who are blind or vision impaired. It runs for about 15 minutes, in MP3 format. To listen, you can use the audio player below.

From January 2018, New Horizons and other BCA audio files are available from a new podcast feed ! You can subscribe to the Blind Citizens Australia podcast feed by pointing your Pod-Catcher to: http://blindcitizens.podbean.com/feed

To visit the Blind Citizens Australia podbean page, go to: http://blindcitizens.podbean.com

Media Release: NDIS Correspondence is Now Accessible to People who are Blind or Vision Impaired

Thanks to strong advocacy by Blind Citizens Australia, its members and partner organisations, participants in the National Disability Insurance Scheme will now receive correspondence in their preferred format.

The NDIA will progressively introduce changes over the next few months which will allow participants to choose their preferred communication format and update their preferences via an NDIA representative, the National contact centre, or on the Participant Portal. Large font, audio, e-text and braille formats will be available.  

The NDIA expect to move to automated requests for correspondence in alternative formats by the end of August 2019.  Requested documents will be sent directly to an external accessible format provider who will prepare the accessible version and despatch directly to the NDIS Participant to reduce delays.

Up to now requests for alternative formats have been managed by NDIA planners via a manual process and participants often report delays and difficulty in getting correspondence in their chosen format.  Print copy plans and letters are currently generated automatically and staff must intervene manually where needed to support a participant’s preference. This has resulted in an inconsistent approach long delay before a participant receives the alternative format.

“This is a tremendously important step forward for people who are blind or vision impaired. Blindness is often referred to as an information-based disability. Access to information is often the only thing that prevents a person who is blind or vision impaired from carrying out tasks and activities that they otherwise could,” said Rikki Chaplin, Acting CEO Blind Citizens Australia.

“To be able to easily read your NDIS plan is vital if you’re going to be able to take full advantage of the supports in your plan. I congratulate the NDIA on ensuring that people who are blind or vision impaired will have reliable and consistent access to their plans in the format which is right for them.”

The NDIA has committed to continuous improvement and will seek feedback by engaging with peak bodies such as BCA and with the Participant Reference Group.

Read the full media release here (Word version)

Please let us know if you’d like this information in another format for accessibility.

Consultation for Aged Care

Blind Citizens Australia invites you to share your stories and experiences of accessing services, support and information for those who are aged 65 or older. How are My Aged Care and other disability-related programs and services supporting you, a person who is blind or vision impaired? What are the gaps in what is available to you?  If there are services that you haven’t yet accessed, what is stopping you from connecting to them?

BCA is making a submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. A royal commission is the highest level of public inquiry in Australia. Its main functions are to investigate an issue, produce a report and make recommendations to government. This work is informed by extensive input from members of the community, who are invited to share their concerns about the matter/s being investigated.

To ensure we include the views of people who are blind or vision impaired, we are asking you to share your experiences with supports, or lack thereof, for those who are blind or vision impaired and are 65 or over. We know that it is essential that our thoughts and viewpoints and recommendations that we present are backed up by examples and numbers.  Providing real life experiences and stories is the best and most effective way that we can advocate for change. We are interested in hearing from you whether or not you currently access services through the aged care system.

Some initial thoughts on topics that you may be able to include in your feedback:

  • My Aged Care Assessment Process – how can this be more individualised and related to the needs of people who are blind or vision impaired?
  • Focus on frailty in ageing rather than individualised disability-specific needs.  The needs of BCA members are generally related to their blindness or vision impairment, which may have been supported through disability services prior to the introduction of the NDIS.  How are these support needs being met now?
  • Access to Assistive Technology.  How can you access blindness-specific supports through the aged care system?  What are the gaps in getting this support?
  • Available packages and waiting lists – how does the system ensure safety and independence by making appropriate levels of support available to individuals?
  • Lack of independent access to information on aged care in accessible formats – especially care plans and contracts.
  • Issues with dog guide access and maintenance through My Aged Care.  What are the barriers with service providers in getting and paying for dog guides if you are 65 or over?
  • Service Provider issues with high admin fees and unethical practices
  • Lack of training in disability/ability awareness for aged care service providers

Please note that to ensure your privacy and confidentiality, all stories we receive will be de-identified, with all names and identifying details removed before we use it.  BCA may use your story as an example to the submission to the Royal Commission, as well as further communications with government in the future.

You can contribute to this important consultation in a number of ways.

Phone: 1800 033 660 and talk to a BCA staff member, who will take down your story with you over the phone.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone over the phone, you can share your story by leaving a message through the feedback option on BCA’s phone system by selecting option 2 when calling. This can be done anonymously if you wish.

You can also email: bca@bca.org.au with the subject: Feedback on Aged Care

If you have been considering making your own personal submission to the Royal Commission, we can also assist you in that process.

If you are sharing someone else’s experience or story, you must have their permission to do so.

If you know of someone who may not get this call out for feedback from BCA but who would like to contribute, please pass on this information to them, or encourage them to contact BCA for further information.

All stories and feedback for the Royal Commission into Aged Care must be received by BCA by Monday 5th August 2019.

Sharing personal stories may bring up feelings of distress. If you are feeling affected by this process, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Angela Jaeschke
Advocacy and Policy Manager