Blog Post; May 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The OMAA takes the threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19) seriously and is concerned for the health and wellbeing of OMAA members and clients.  The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve on a daily basis and varies across countries, therefore OMAA recommends that members stay up to date with information and advice from national (NZ) or state and federal (AUS) government authorities.  In addition, the World Health Organisation provides regular and reliable updates, advice and recommendations for protective measures.  OMAA strongly recommends that all members follow these protective measures.

Members employed by agencies need to follow the COVID-19 policies and procedures put in place by their employer.  Independent Service Providers will need to develop and adhere to processes that are in line with national or state and federal government information, advice and directives in relation to protective measures, travel, social distancing, self-isolation and so on, as applicable.


Guidance on Remote Instruction from COMS Subject Matter Expert Committee

ACVREP has been receiving requests for guidance on remote instruction during this time of COVID 19 isolation. The COMS Subject Matter Expert Committee met and has issued the attached Letter to the Profession to help guide you on practice during this time. Members of the SME are listed at the end of the letter and you should feel free to reach out to any of them if there are issues or circumstances you would like to discuss in more detail.

Please stay safe and well

Kathie Zeider, President


Disability Information Helpline

The Disability Information Helpline provides information and referrals for people with disability who need help because of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Helpline can help families, carers and support workers, too. The Disability Information Helpline is free, private and fact-checked. You can contact and read more about the Helpline here.

Eyes an ‘important route’ for coronavirus transmission

Public health researchers believe the eye may be a key entry point for coronavirus to infect the body, in a world-first study that reveals the current strain is up to 100 times more infectious than SARS.

New testing data published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine this month has demonstrated that SARS-Cov-2 – the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease – infected the upper respiratory airways and conjunctiva much more efficiently than the 2003 SARS-CoV (SARS). Read the full article here.


Can dogs SMELL coronavirus?

A new pilot study is examining whether dogs may accurately be able to sniff out the novel coronavirus. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania are performing the experiment using eight Labrador Retrievers, which have more powerful noses than other breeds.  Dogs are already used to help detect several medical conditions including cancer, malaria and Parkinson’s disease. If successful, the team hopes the animals can be used as so-called ‘canine surveillance’ units, which can screen people at airports, hospitals and other public places. Read the full article here.


NEW to the OMAA website: Independent Service Providers

Many thanks to Kim Pilic for compiling this list of independent O&M service providers. It’s great to see such a diverse list of providers – check out the new page here.


Can we Close the Gap by 2020?

In 2008, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults had 6x more blindness than other Australians. The leading cause was unoperated cataract followed by uncorrected refractive error, diabetic retinopathy and trachoma. One third had never had an eye exam.

This led to the development of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision, launched in 2012. The roadmap recognised the pathway of care, or the patient’s journey, was complex – like a leaky pipe. If only one or two leaks were fixed, the water would still drip from other parts of the network. Continue reading the article here.



The OMAA has been advised by members that COMS exams have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis. We will endeavour to notify members once we receive notice that exams are able to be scheduled once again.


Call for Papers JSPEVI 2020

Original manuscripts, reports and news items are sought for the thirteenth issue of the Journal of the South Pacific Educators in Vision Impairment. The journal provides essays, quantitative and qualitative research articles and analyses, conceptual papers, literature and book reviews, case studies, policy analyses and innovative practice descriptions and evaluations as well as perspectives and opinions ona wide variety of issues and topics related to the education of children, youth and adults in Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Countries who are blind or have low vision.
Articles submitted for publication will undergo “blind peer review” by the JSPEVI Editorial Advisory Panel of leaders and practitioners in the field of vision impairment
To enable timely review and manuscript revision, it would be appreciated if authors could submit manuscripts by email no later than 30th September 2020
Manuscripts, reports and news items should be sent electronically to Dr Bronwen Scott, Editor, email:
The Call for Papers and JSPEVI Guidelines for Contributors may also be downloaded from the ‘Information sharing’ section of the SPEVI website,

Steve’s journey toward white cane acceptance

Shared with permission from Forward Steps Mobility & Steve Fox

Please listen to Steve Fox’s well communicated lived experience video. He talks about coming to terms with being legally blind, including acceptance of a long cane. Read more from Forward Steps Mobility’s Facebook post here. View Steve Fox’s video here.


An Eye to the Future

Through funding provided to Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) as part of the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA’s) Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Grant, BCA created ‘An Eye to the Future’; a program that recognises the potential of people who are blind or vision impaired as reliable, dedicated employees in multiple sectors and with many varied skill sets. Read more at their website.


Updated COMS Certification Criteria is Posted for 30 Public Comment Period ending May 22

The ACVREP Board of Directors, based on the recommendation of the COMS Subject Matter Expert Committee, has approved the updated COMS certification criteria for posting for public comment. This is being done as part of a Best Practices five year review process that will include updating the certification exam. Your comments and input on the updated certification criteria are very important . Please take the time to review and provide us with your comments by May 22.

All comments will be reviewed by the Subject Matter Expert Committee and the Board of Directors before any final decisions on the updated certification criteria are made.

A copy of the updated criteria can be viewed here. ACVREP has established an email address in order to receive your comments. It is important that you place the word COMS in the subject line of your email.


One the Road with the IDEAS Van

Originating in Queensland, the IDEAS Van has extended its circuit to take in five Victorian centres. Melbourne orthoptist DANIELLE THORBURN recounts her experience with the initiative in Orbost.

I first became aware of the Indigenous Diabetes Eyes and Screening (IDEAS) Van when I received a phone call asking me to be involved as an orthoptist. I had no prior knowledge of the service, but quickly got up to speed because ‘closing the gap’ has always interested me – I just never knew how, or where, to get involved. Read the rest of the article here.


A Step Forward Podcast – latest episodes

An Orientation and Mobility Specialist’s roadmap to increasing their students’ independence while staying sane in the work place.


WeWALK Special Edition Launch Offer

WeWALK have announced a Special Edition launch offer, an upgrade with a more improved technology and you can have it with a $209 discount in July. Offering a better audio experience, enhanced durability, lighter and longer-lasting cane, and an additional free white cane. Read more here.


Diversity Council of Australia: Knowledge Programs

DCA offers a range of diversity and inclusion knowledge program workshops focused on key diversity areas that can be delivered in-house or facilitated online. Read more about the range of workshops available here.


Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability – April 2020 Updates


Access and Inclusion Through Technology

A round up of news from the world of accessible technology supporting #accessinteract

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