ROAM Program receives top honours at national awards

VisAbility is delighted to have been announced as the winners of the Outstanding Organisation Award (link opens in new window) at the 2018 HESTA Community Sector Awards in Sydney last night. The top-award recognised the cutting-edge delivery of mobility and orientation services to people who are blind or vision impaired using real-time, remote video assistance through the ROAM (Remote Orientation and Mobility) Program).

Image of Dr Clare Allen, VisAbility's Chief Executive Officer, holding the 2018 Outstanding Organisation Award
Image of Dr Clare Allen, VisAbility’s Chief Executive Officer, holding the 2018 Outstanding Organisation Award

“On behalf of VisAbility, I am thrilled to have accepted this award. I am just so proud of our team who are really showing that we can lead the world in helping people who are blind or vision impaired connect with their community and the world around them.” – Dr Clare Allen, VisAbility’s Chief Executive Officer.

For the last three years, the ROAM Project team has developed a way to provide instructions from VisAbility’s Victoria Park hub via a video link, connecting the staff with regional clients. O&M specialists can give advice in real time, assisting a client and their carer as they move around their local community.

The team became aware of the long delays, sometimes stretching for months, that regional and remote clients were experiencing while waiting to receive Orientation and Mobility services. These delays were caused due to the expensive nature of providing O&M services; there are very few O&M providers in WA as the specialised skill is not taught within the state.

These delays didn’t align with VisAbility’s vision for independence. Team members wanted to reach remote and regional clients more efficiently, to sooner empower them to led full and independent lives in their communities. This is when the idea for video-based service delivery was sparked.

“We wanted a fast, efficient and effective way to help meet clients’ needs. If you imagine being blind and effectively house bound, this service helps give people their independence, which is life changing and completely transformative,” Dr Clare Allen said.

“Our team at ROAM came up with the idea and developed the use of the technology. There is really nothing like this program anywhere else in the world.”

Image of a client, having the ROAM video camera harness around his chest by a VisAbility O&M specialist wearing a headset.

HESTA CEO, Debby Blakey said this year’s winners have all made invaluable contributions to social justice and displayed outstanding leadership skills in developing programs advocating for and supporting those in need.

“The hard work and heart and soul they have put into building stronger communities is truly inspiring. We’re immensely proud to be able to help recognise them through the HESTA Community Sector Awards.” – Debby Blakely said.

VisAbility’s ROAM Project was selected from 10 national finalists. Congratulations to the fellow finalists in the Outstanding Organisation Categories, and the winner of the Unsung Hero Award Sue Miers and the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, and the winner of the Social Impact Award End Rape on Campus Australia.

The winner of each award category will share in a $30,000 prize pool. VisAbility’s portion of the prize money will be used to take ROAM to the next stages, and include the upgrade of technology and the raising of awareness about the program so that VisAbility can empower many more people living with disability.

For more information on how you could benefit from VisAbility’s ROAM Program, contact us on 1800 847 466 or email us at