Guide Dogs Australia has developed an accessible way to connect Australians living with low vision or blindness.
Following community requests for a place where visually impaired or blind people can connect, Guide Dogs Australia (GDA) has launched its own community platform – Catch up.
CatchUp is an extension of GDA’s Community Hub, which was built in 2018. The goal of this new iteration of a community platform is to ensure more engagement and personalization.
With expert articles, video tutorials and online forums, members can connect with others living with low vision and blindness, whether to socialize, share resources or offer support.
Guide Dogs Victoria CEO Karen Hayes said CatchUp will also be a place where people can access the specific information they need when they need it.
“It’s not just about the services of Guide Dogs Australia,” said Hayes.
“[CatchUp] has everything from articles from people with lived experience, informative tech videos, news, and even really fun things happening in the community like accessible events or shows.
Dale Cleaver, CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, said the project had primarily focused on improving accessibility and user experience.
“Launching our new brand and new websites last year was really focused on creating fully accessible online platforms,” he said.
“It made sense to pull the [new and improved] community center in the larger digital design ecosystem in order to [all] our channels were aligned.
To achieve its goal of connecting the community, CatchUp has been made available to everyone, not just GDA customers. The platform welcomes people with lived experience, families or friends supporting a visually impaired or blind person as well as practitioners working in space.
And although the new and improved platform only launched in early March, users are already enjoying the improved community experience.
GDA client Dan Pritchard said CatchUp brought with it a new wave of connection.
“I thought the previous version of the hub was okay, but it wasn’t something that grabbed attention. It was kind of like trolling on a news site. It was a great source of information, but you never really felt connected to the community the news was about,” he said.
“Now it’s a completely different experience. You still have your news and information, but now you also have this community. I can interact with others, discover their thoughts and have these shared experiences.
Learn more about Catch-up here