Frequently Asked Questions
At Blind Focus we have followed and continue to follow, the information and advice of state and government authorities to keep clients, staff, and others safe. As many people have found, it has been both a trying time because of the impact on the business and daily routines, but also a wonderful opportunity to connect/reconnect with each other in different ways. For example, Zoom meetings have now become part of everyday social and business life.
On Tuesday 9 June, Blind Focus will recommence providing services to people who are blind or vision impaired in Tasmania. As travel restrictions between states are lifted, Blind Focus will recommence providing services on a national basis. Regular updates on our service delivery area will be provided on our website, Facebook and LinkedIn.
We have introduced a range of safety policies and procedures in line with state and federal government requirements which includes measures for social distancing, travel, personal hygiene, protective equipment, COVID-19 testing, use of the COVIDSafe app, and so on. This has been done to protect the safety of our staff, clients, and the community.
If you are living with blindness and vision impairment, or know someone who is, and would like to talk about safer and more independent mobility in your home and/or community, please contact us on 0491 764 260.
Orientation and Mobility (O&M) is an internationally recognised body of knowledge, that incorporates methods, concepts and techniques, which has been designed specifically to maximise the safe, effective, and independent travel of people who are blind or vision impaired.
Orientation is knowing where you are in relation to a reference point/s e.g. where you are going, where you have come from, a landmark, or a compass point. Mobility is the ability to move from one location to another safely and effectively. So, when combined, orientation and mobility is the ability to keep track of where you are, in relation to reference points, as you safely and effectively move from one place to another place.
Generally, people with reasonable vision rely on their sight, to maintain effective orientation and safe mobility. In contrast, people with impaired vision will generally need to acquire a range of additional skills and strategies, to be able to move around safely, effectively, efficiently, and independently. A proven way that this can be achieved is through a personalised program of O&M assessment and instruction.
If you would like more information on O&M please contact us.
An O&M Specialist is a qualified and experienced professional, who is able to assess and instruct people of different ages, with different types/degrees of vision impairments, in the skills, knowledge, techniques, strategies, and equipment of O&M.
O&M Specialists are the only allied health professionals qualified to provide O&M assessment and instruction to children, adolescents and adults who are blind or vision impaired.
If you would like more information on the role of an O&M Specialist please contact us.
COMS stands for Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist. When you see COMS after the name of an O&M Specialist, it means that the specialist has been internationally certified by the Academy of Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP), to provide the highest quality of O&M services to people who are blind or vision impaired. All COMS certified O&M Specialists are bound by the ACVREP Code of Ethics.
To check whether an O&M Specialist is certified by ACVREP:
- Go to the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) ‘Verify Certificants’ web page www.acvrep.org/verify
- Select ‘Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS)’ on the ‘Select Certification’ drop down menu .
- Select ‘Outside of USA and Canada’ on the ‘Select State or Province’ drop down menu.
That will provide a list of internationally certified O&M Specialists working in Australia.
ROMSA stands for Registered O&M Specialist in Australasia. When you see ROMSA after the name of an O&M Specialist, it means that the specialist has been registered by the Orientation and Mobility Association of Australia (OMAA), on the basis of:
- having completed comprehensive O&M qualifications;
- having demonstrated professional competence in the workplace;
- having passed the international exam for Certified O&M Specialists (COMS) and
- continuing their professional education by keeping up to date in the field, by maintaining OMAA membership, and undertaking professional development activities (100 points) towards recertification every five years.
To check whether an O&M Specialist is a Registered O&M Specialist in Australasia (ROMSA)
- Go to the OMAA website www.omaaustralasia.com/register/
- Search the register for a specific O&M Specialist by name; or search for an O&M Specialist in your geographical area; or search by their professional interest.
If you would like more information on COMS or ROMSA please contact us.
The fees for Blind Focus Orientation and Mobility Assessment and Training Services for NDIS participants, are set in accordance with the NDIS Support Catalogue, under the category ‘Therapeutic Supports – Improved Daily Living Skills’. The fees for providing O&M Assessment Training Services, to all other people not covered by an NDIS plan, are negotiated with the referral person or organisation.
The fees for Blind Focus Disability Consultancy and Professional Development Services are negotiated directly with the organisation requesting the service.
If you would like more information on Blind Focus fees please contact us.
- The name Blind Focus says it all. We are squarely focused on how blindness and vision impairment impacts on the everyday life of people living with blindness and low vision. No distractions, no fluff – our focus is to empower and equip you with the O&M skills to meet the challenges and opportunities of living with blindness and low vision.
- We tailor our services to your personal situation and lifestyle. That means, you are not just another client number to us – so, no red-tape, no long waiting times, and no jumping through admin hoops. We will listen and respond by providing meaningful, effective and flexible services that meet your needs – not our needs.
- Our expertise and experience will save you time, effort and money. Our services are based on the latest research. We combine this evidence base with 30+ years of experience in the field of blindness and vision impairment to provide the most efficient, effective and meaningful services.
- We will continue to challenge and change out-dated ways of thinking about blindness and vision impairment. We will do this through a range of publications, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, online resources and workshops, about the lived experience of blindness and low vision..
If you would like more information on Blind Focus please contact us.
Our aim is to provide services in your preferred location regardless of where you live in Australia. We have a base in Bowral New South Wales (close to Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong, Nowra and many key regional towns in Southern NSW) and northern Tasmania (close to Launceston). From these two bases we can easily travel to work with clients living on the east coast of Australia. We can also travel to South Australia and Western Australia and the regional centres of those states. From a business point of view however, providing specialised services needs to make financial sense to you, and to our company.
Something to consider, is that clients often prefer to work intensively over a week or two, rather than over a long period of time. This approach enables them to fast-track their acquisition of O&M skills, which are needed for safe, effective, and more independent travel. An intensive assessment/training program in your home area, can be an investment that will actually save you time, money, and effort in the long run. In addition, this approach is financially viable for our company.
Please contact us to discuss your individual situation and how Blind Focus can help you achieve your goals, in the most cost effective way. If you would like more information on our service delivery area please contact us.
Yes. Blind Focus staff must hold a current National Police Certificate, Working with Children Checks, the NDIS Worker Orientation Module Certificate of Completion, and a First Aid Certificate. Blind Focus employees are covered by Professional Indemnity, Public, and Products Liability insurance.
At the moment Blind Focus is not registered with NDIS. However, this only means that Blind Focus cannot accept referrals for NDIS participants being plan managed by NDIA. We can accept referrals from NDIS participants who are self-managing their own plan and/or being managed by a third party e.g. a plan manager or service coordinator. Some people think that being unregistered means being unqualified but that is not the case. Many excellent service providers choose not to register with NDIS.
If you would like more information about Blind Focus and the NDIS please contact us.
NDIS has a particular focus on ‘choice and control’. We believe that to make informed choices it is best to do your homework (or ask your plan manager) to (a) identify the full range of service providers available in your local area and (b) check to make sure they are qualified and experienced. Once you are satisfied that a service provider is qualified and experienced, perhaps try out different service providers to see which one is the best fit for you.
We also suggest you ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the Orientation and Mobility Specialist you are working with (a) a member of the Orientation and Mobility Association of Australasia (OMAA)? (b) certified by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (AVREP) as COMS (Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist)? and (c) registered by OMAA as ROMSA (Registered Orientation and Mobility Specialist in Australasia)?
- Is your service provider approachable and responsive, or do you feel like you are dealing with a bureaucracy?
- Is the organisation’s paperwork and administration easy to deal with, or do you feel as though you have to jump through a lot of unnecessary hoops?
- Do you get to choose the person you are working with, or do you have to work with whoever the organisation/agency sends out?
- Is your service provider meeting or exceeding your expectations, or do they do the minimum?
- Do they work in ways, times and places that make sense to you as a person living with impaired vision, or do you feel like you need to fit in with their set ways of working?
- Is their service timely, or do you end up on a lengthy waiting list?
- Do you feel like the service provider’s program represents good value for money, or do you feel like the program has been ‘padded out’ to maximise their income and not your outcomes?
After trying out various service providers, the main question to ask yourself is, ‘how has the quality of my life (or my child’s life) improved after working with this service provider?’
If you would like more information on what to look for in a service provider please contact us.