Kathryn Hewitt runs a successful hypnotherapy business in Bunbury. She’s legally blind but it has never prevented her from forging ahead with her career.
“I became a hypnotherapist after working in government administration and as a teaching assistant. In my mid-forties I started exploring alternative therapies because I had an auto immune disease. It prompted me to retrain and to learn about hypnotherapy,” she explains.
Kathryn has Cone-rod dystrophy (link opens in new window) and her vision loss has deteriorated over time.
Mind over matter – running a successful business
Ten years on from switching careers, Kathryn now has her own wellness clinic established in her home. As a member of the Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists (link opens in new window), she has to undergo regular training so she can continue to practice. Most of the training material provided is not accessible to people with low vision.
“Cone-rod dystrophy affects the retina, it’s a genetic disease. My training manuals are pretty long and intense. They are in PDF format which cannot be read by my screen reader,’’ she explains.
VisAbility currently receives funding from the Government’s Print Disability Services Program so we can provide alternative formats, such as braille or large print to eligible people for free. The aim is to improve access to printed material to all Australians.
There’s no charge for people aged 65 or over and for individuals who don’t have a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan in place. Kathryn contacted us before her NDIS plan was active.
Converting PDFs into accessible documents
Our Accessible Information Team converted Kathryn’s PDF documents into an accessible Word format so she can continue to undertake professional study and do the job she loves.
‘’You have to keep updated with current practices in my role in order to stay registered. This service is like a lifeline to me because it’s enabling me to keep working,” she explains.
Recently Kathryn’s been training for a hypnobirthing qualification. We’re converting some of the training material into audio books for her. It means she can listen and learn while at home doing household chores.
“Hypnobirthing is becoming increasingly popular among mothers-to-be who want a drug-free birth. It’s growing in popularity and so I’m keen to become equipped with skills to offer this to clients,’’ adds Kathryn.
While running a business with vision loss can be a challenge, Kathryn overcomes any hurdles.
The importance of accessibility
More than 18% of people throughout Australia have a print disability. The Print Disability Services Program, funded by the Department of Social Services, is in place until June 2021. People can access the service for free if they meet the criteria of being aged 65 or over or without an NDIS plan.
We have a team of experts who can offer guidance and services on accessibility offering a wide range of alternative formats. This includes Braille, audio, accessible word documents and PDFs, tactile images and large print.
If you think you may benefit from the Print Disability Services Program, complete the form below and find out how we can make a difference.