Meet Margaret, Vision Australia orientation and mobility specialist

29 June 2020

A desire to help people led to Margaret Steggles becoming a Vision Australia orientation and mobility specialist.

In 2008, Margaret responded to an advertisement for a graduate program in orientation and mobility run by Vision Australia.

“The program appealed to me because I knew that working as an orientation and mobility instructor would involve spending quality one on one time with people,” Margaret said.

Margaret has now worked for the not-for-profit organisation since then provider since then, supporting people who are blind or have low vision to be active and independent.

“I support people who are blind or have low vision to get out and about safely and independently and do the things that are important to them in their daily lives.”

Orientation and mobility training involves supporting people who are blind or have low vision to develop a number of skills, including the ability to use mobility aids.

“There are primary mobility aids such as mobility canes and seeing eye dogs and secondary aids including travel apps and GPS devices,” Margaret said.

“I also help people to learn to use public transport safely and train them to use senses such as touch and hearing to become more familiar with their environment.”

Along with different skills, Margaret also said she supports people to learn how to navigate different routes and locations.

 “Some people do want to learn a very specific route. They want to complete a daily task like shopping or getting to a medical appointment without relying on other people.

“After that, they might want to broaden their horizons and think about hobbies or activities they want to do and we focus on that.

“I make sure the training we do is within the client’s comfort zone. As their skills develop their confidence will develop and they will be able to overcome the initial apprehension about traveling independently.”

Margaret said for some people can be a little apprehensive about using a white cane at first as it discloses their blindness or low vision. To counter this, Margaret encourages them to educate their family and friends about what the white cane means and the impact it has on their life.

“I often say to clients that instead of focusing on losing vision, it’s good to focus on the fact that they’re gaining a skill.”

To learn more about Vision Australia’s orientation and mobility services, call 1300 84 74 66 or email info@visionaustralia.org.