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VisAbility duo jet off to Ireland

in Latest News, Stories of Independence
Amy Barrett-Lennard and Jodie Bruce are photographed with radio microphones at an interview in Broome

At the end of June two of our remarkable Orientation and Mobility Specialists will be jet setting off to Dublin, Ireland to present at the 16th International Mobility Conference. Taking place from 26 June to 30 June, Amy Barrett-Lennard, a VisAbility Occupational Therapist and Orientation and Mobility Specialist and Jodie Bruce, VisAbility’s Social Worker and Orientation and Mobility Specialist have been invited to present at this prestigious conference.


Running biennially in a different city every two years, the International Mobility Conference program is based off a theme. This year it is ‘Transitions; moving on, moving out’. The conference attracts leading educators, researchers and practitioners in the field of Orientation and Mobility from all over the world. The aim is that all delegates come together to share knowledge and innovation and take O&M practice to the next level internationally.

Amy Barrett-Lennard is presenting twice at the conference, firstly on an Acquired Brain Injury case study titled “Too dizzy to ride the bus”. This study explores an innovative ABI O&M program that Amy developed for a client who had severe vestibule-ocular reflex dysfunction following a stroke. Black glasses with a pin-hole of light were used to help the client reduce her nausea and give her the ability to remain independent and travel locally. Secondly, Amy is presenting a workshop titled “When in ROAM: Exploring new frontiers in video conferencing techniques to expand the delivery of O&M services to clients in regional and remote Western Australia.” This workshop will explore how Amy has been using Remote Orientation and Mobility here in Perth to teach VisAbility clients in regional areas how to get around more safely and efficiently using O&M.

Jodie Bruce is also delivering a presentation at the conference titled “No white cane for me! Adapting O&M programs for Aboriginal Australian”. This presentation was created after Jodie helped VisAbility provide services in our Rural and Remote Program to Aboriginal Australians in the Kimberley region.

Over the last two years, VisAbility visited the Kimberley four times and assisted in vision assessments, providing skills for daily living and Orientation and Mobility to over 85 individuals, in addition to providing training to local staff and health care workers.

The presentation will explore the innovative techniques trialled during this period, and the solutions and strategies that developed to ensure effective service provision in a regionally remote and culturally diverse population.

While Amy is in Ireland, she will also be meeting with the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind in Cork which is three hours south of Dublin. Simon Osburne a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, saw a presentation about ROAM at the 2016 International Guide Dogs Conference in Croatia. This was presented by Zena Gomes and Debra Barnes, and joined by Amy Barrett-Lennard who was remotely corresponding from Perth! This took Simon’s interest, and he was keen to explore how the ROAM concept could be applied to Guide Dog training programs, particularly in monitoring clients in their home environment immediately after formal training at their training centre in Cork. Amy has been liaising with Simon over the past year and providing information to him on how to set up a similar pilot program to the one VisAbility have been running here in Perth. Simon asked Amy to drop by for a visit for a few days in June as the conference is conveniently close by! While visiting, Amy will present the concept of ROAM to management, field any in-depth questions and provide some initial training to the Irish Guide Dog instructors.

From everyone at VisAbility, we wish our team members good luck on their overseas trips and best wishes for their presentations. We look forward to providing updates on the success of Amy’s trip to Cork upon the team’s return! Stay tuned for more.