We trace our origins to the foundation of the Ladies’ Braille Society in 1913 transcribing Braille literature. After the First World War, The Society moved on to home teaching, social work and establishing the Rest Home for the Aged Blind at Victoria Park in 1923.
Throughout the Depression we continued our work in spite of almost overwhelming obstacles. By the end of the Second World War we were running a major social service.
In 1951 Australia’s first Guide Dog training school was established in Perth, a significant event that had a nation-wide impact.
In 1977, the Braille Society and Guide Dogs for the Blind formally merged and became the Association for the Blind of WA. By the 1980s, thanks to innovative thinking in arenas like recreation, orientation and mobility, early intervention, technology and library services, we were providing the most sophisticated set of resources for people who were vision impaired in the State.
In 2004 we undertook a massive project to build a Centre for Excellence. In 2007 thanks to the support of the West Australian community and government and the Australian government, that dream was realised as The Perron Centre opened. A truly unique space catering to the needs of people with low or no vision.
In 2012 an organisation-wide strategic review, supported by Lotterywest, recommended we broaden our reach and impact, and refine services in order to be more sustainable and relevant to the community in years to come. With a little as five per cent of people with vision impairment experiencing total blindness, the review flagged that many Western Australians living with low vision – who may not identify themselves as ‘blind’ – were missing out on vital services. After extensive independent research and consumer consultation, the Association changed its name to VisAbility and extended services to people with all disabilities.
In 2020 VisAbility embarked on a journey of learning and discovery. After consulting with clients, their family and carers, staff, volunteers and the wider community, it was clear – VisAbility is for people with no or low vision. With a refocus on services to people with vision impairment or blindness we also launched a more accessible new look.