Hidden from Sight
Directed and Edited by Joel Checkley and Produced by Belinda Ensor for Museums Australia (Victoria), 2015.Contributors
Museums Australia (Victoria)
Reproduction of this content for public purposes must be approved by Museums Australia (Victoria).Copyright
Museums Australia (Victoria)
The blind community in Victoria is an independent, progressive and highly motivated group of individuals that spans all ages. Organisations such as Vision Australia seek to empower individuals who are blind or have low vision to participate in life within the mainstream world in any way they choose.
Incredible advances in technology have meant that there has never been more information freely available to everyone, however people who are blind or have low vision can only access around five percent of everything that is published. We have the technology, what is holding us back?
Hidden From Sight explores Accessibility, Technology and Advocacy through the experiences of three individuals who are blind or have low vision.
To watch Maryanne Diamond's 2014 TEDx Talk on her life and her advocacy work and the Marrakesh Treaty, visit the TEDx website.
To find out more about Humanware, visit the Humanware website.
To see more of Andrew Follow's photographs, visit Andrew's website.
1. By Daniel R. Blume from Orange County, California, USA (A stack of newspapers) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
2. By Ramchand Bruce Phagoo (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
3. By Reinhard Dietrich (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
4. By Jes [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
5. Louisa Billeter, Melbourne 2008 via Flickr.
6. By Kevin Anslow (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.
7. Touch Art Fair, UK 2013, Touch Art Fair.
8. Children in recreation room, Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, 1912 (picture), State Library of Victoria.
9. Blind children in a schoolroom reading braille, Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, 1912 (picture), State Library of Victoria.
10.Blind children playing, Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, 1912 (picture), State Library of Victoria.
11. Women seated at workbenches making brushes, Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, c. 1912 (picture), State Library of Victoria.
12. Man operating a telephone switch board, Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, c. 1912 (picture), State Library of Victoria.
13. Workshop with men making straw brooms, Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, c. 1912 (picture), State Library of Victoria.
14. Images courtesy Andrew Follows, Blinkie Photography.
Additional images were sourced from the Vision Australia Historical Collection.
[HIDDEN FROM SIGHT]
My name is Maryanne Diamond and I am the General Manager of Advocacy and Engagement at Vision Australia.
My name is Ramona Mandy and I work for Humanware. I’ve been vision impaired all my life. I was born with the eye condition called Aniridia, and I’ve lost my sight from birth very gradually.
My name’s Andrew Follows and I’m a photographer. I’ve never had good eyesight, so I was born with low vision. Ah, it was primarily detected in my first year of schooling.
The types of access that blind people need is – one, to the printed word and be that digital or hard copy print – and secondly access to the built environment.
Access to the environment, you know, is about audible announcements on trams, trains and buses, so when we, you know, if we can find where the train stop is and get on the train, how do we know when to get off and it’s about standards and, and consistency
I think most art galleries now are fully aware of accessibilities
There’s a lot of things that makes being part of the community a lot more accessible
The clicking lights - what they call the audio tactile traffic lights. To know when to cross – it's fantastic. It’s better than the invention of sliced bread.
So we move around physically in the environment in a different way.
I wouldn’t accept that I had bad eyes, so I tried to be as normal as possible, and that’s what I spent half my life doing until I just picked up the phone one day and said I think I need some help. So, they matched me up with Eamon and I wish I’d done it a lot earlier, because he’s given me the freedom and the independence that I’d always been craving for but couldn’t get it. So, you know I owe him big time.
One of the bigger issues for persons who are blind is access to information in a format we can read in a timely way
The figure is that there’s about five per cent of published information only that’s accessible to blind people
Information is power. I mean, information you use to make decisions, with information you can participate in education, employment and so on.
There is a misnomer that, well if you have a screen reader you can just rely on the screen talking to you, to access your information but it’s not true literacy. So, when you have braille at your fingertips, you’ve got literacy. You can see how things are written, spelt, punctuated. You can’t get that from just listening to a talking computer.
You know, blind people just want to do everything the same as what everyone else wants to do in life. You know, read books or magazines or whatever we choose.
There’s a lot of moves afoot to improve that, but at the moment we don’t have access to anywhere near as much publish material as sighted people do.
Technology has been major change in the lives of blind people of how we experience things
Often people’s first knowledge of adaptive technology is through their contact with Vision Australia.
Vision Australia has, over recent years, held open days where we call a Texpo where we invite all technology people to come and showcase their wares and we showcase our services.
It gives people who are vision impaired a chance to get up close and personal with our technology. They can sit down and see if they can see the magnification, or listen to the voice, or ask us questions.
How you use the technology and what technology you need to use – it’s an individual thing but I think overall it’s, it’s pretty awesome. I wish I had some of this technology when I was growing up.
It’s really important that people choose the device that best suits their needs and their capabilities and their budgets
The only downfall with technology is, it’s so expensive
And so Vision Australia’s part of a consortium, a worldwide consortium to look into finding or developing a new refreshable braille device that is like, costs a few hundred dollars instead of many thousands of dollars.
If they can work out how to cut the costs down and make it more accessible for people that’d be good.
Because accessible, affordable are really, kind of go hand in hand.
Technology is very empowering, it, I guess, helps you to perform better and with more functionality in the workplace, at school, in leisure.
What we want is mainstream devices to be accessible as well as special devices that are developed for blind people to be accessible.
If I get a Word document from my manger on his PC and I use it on my BrailleNote, I’m still interacting seamlessly with him even though we’re using two different technologies. and that integration is empowering because the blind person has the right to be part of the regular mainstream world.
I think the concept of how you provide services, how you support, how you empower people with disabilities, in our case blind people, has changed over the years.
Teachers are now encouraging children to speak up for themselves a lot more, so empowering children with a vision impairment, that attitudinal shift from say a generation ago of speak up and advocate for your own needs rather than the blind person will be taken care of.
The days of sheltered workshops with switchboard or low manual labour – I think those days are gone. I hope they have anyway. But, it’s still hard. I mean imagine you walk into a gallery with a guide dog and you say, ‘Hey, I’m a photographer I’d like you to exhibit my work’ I mean what would you think?
In a way disability is a responsibility of all of us.
I think things become more accessible through people speaking up, a bit of the squeaky wheel syndrome. So, through advocacy of say organisations that represent the blind.
One of the things we’re doing here at Vision Australia is developing a self-advocacy training because the best thing we can do is to empower people to be their own advocates.
In my case, I’m a photographer first and I’m legally blind second. So, I want to be out there, I want to be known but in a positive way.
You can do anything with the right supports and skills.
It’s not, it’s not the ‘Give the blind man a go’ scenario, it’s ‘Oh shit, he’s a photographer and look how good he is’, you know.
So it’s all about opportunities and reaching your potential as a blind person. You should be able to enjoy the same rights and lifestyle choices that non-vision impaired people would make.
We will continue to work with blind people, empowering blind people to participate in life, in any area of life they choose.
I’m showing my disability in a positive way. I’m out there taking photographs, documenting what I absolutely am passionate about, which is Melbourne and I’ve got my best friend by my side and um, you know, to me I couldn’t have it any other way.
In a Hearing World
Hidden from Sight
In a Seeing World
The Laughter of the Tribe
Eyes on Access
Sign Language Alphabet Chart
Flinders Street Deaf Club
Muir and Abraham at Flinders Street Deaf Club
Blackburn Lake Park
Jolimont Square Garden Party
Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind Chief Librarian
Demonstration of Assistive Technology
Braille Playboy Magazine
Story education resources
Education A Sensory Experience Education Kit - Deaf Perspectives
Created by Way Back When Consulting Historians, this education resource links to relevant learning outcomes in the year 9 Australian History Curriculum. It utilises a range of primary sources including images, video and essays; interviews with members of the Deaf community; inquiry and research-based activities; and assignment tasks and an assessment rubric.
Education A Sensory Experience Education Kit - Blind Perspectives
Created by Way Back When Consulting Historians, this education resource links to relevant learning outcomes in the year 9 Australian History Curriculum. It utilises a range of primary sources including images, video and essays; interviews with people who are blind or have low vision; inquiry and research-based activities; and assignment tasks and an assessment rubric.