Friday, August 18, 2017

Independent Information (and IDEAS) Being Axed by NSW Government

IDEAS, the expert independent information providers, among many important advocacy organisations, are being axed by the NSW state government in June 2018.

IDEAS has been in service to people with disabilities, their families and carers since 1981. Cumulatively with the other organisations on the chopping block, there are hundreds and hundreds of  years of lived disability experience and sector knowledge, which will not be available to the largest single minority population in NSW.

Independent information services have to be a sustained practice. They should not replace or prevent new entrants to the market, and disparate means of distribution, but IDEAS asserts that it is only fair to have a trusted source that people may use to get a gold standard of information, that is customised to the person’s access needs, to support their decision making. 

The markers of these information services are:
  1. They should be unconflicted (that is service providers information is conflicted by their offer of service contracts from which they profit)
  2. They should be independent, that is, away from government, away from the Agency and away from direct service provision
  3. They should be accurate
  4. They should be timely
  5. They should be relevant
  6. They should be value for money
  7. They should be free to people with disability, their families carers and supporters
  8. They should have diverse distributive channels in an “omni” environment, so web, phone, letters, e-mails, community face to face engagements, newsletters, enewsletters and all the digital and social realm.
  9. The data must be maintained. Records must have a process of accession and de-accession.
  10. They should be “trusted” services and known to be on the side of people with disabilities . 
As the NDIS starts to serve unfunded participants in greater numbers, the schisms at the interface of health, education and transport will become more apparent. The cohort of people who will be unfunded participants in the NDIS scheme will be around 2,090,000 people living with disability. Their number of carers is around 394,000 persons.

IDEAS predicts that the most urgent of these is health. The ‘wrangle for nothing about us without us’ is real and the health system, and its specialties are largely unprepared. This is in an environment where people with disability have determination to be treated as whole persons and with the attitudinal shifts required to be treated as a person not as a condition. 

Concurrently there has not been nearly enough time, resources or determination to do the community capacity building, and develop greater individual capacity amongst people with disability to self-advocate in the mainstream systems of health, education, transport, work, puberty, sexual health, travel and relationships.

Information Services, Awareness Services and Disability Inclusion education need to be expanded to meet these obvious burgeoning needs.

Acknowledgement needs to be made in that the digital divide is greater than then bandwidth alone. This is a financial, educative, social and age marked engagement. The choices need to be there, because even if people with disability may be very proficient in the digital world, that may be intermittent due to money or other issues.

If independent information services are not a sustained investment, then the  NDIS risks losing choice and control for individuals and their engagement in mainstream provisions in their life domain. 
What can you do to help?

At IDEAS we always say that it is not about us, it is about the thousands of customers we serve every year with free accurate information, but now it really is about us. 

We need your help to tell your state local member, the state Minister for Disabilities, Mr. Ray Williams, and the Premier Ms Gladys Berejyklian that without IDEAS, people like you will have no one to go to for free accurate independent information that is not selling anything to make your choices truly yours. 

Can you help us remind them that they won't know what they've got till it’s gone, and that you still need IDEAS to stand by you in the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, whether you have a funded package or not? We counted you in, and now we are counting on you. Here are the contact details for Ray Williams and Gladys Berejyklian: 
  • Ray Williams - email: or call 02 8882 9555
  • Gladys Berejyklian - use this online form: or call 02 9439 4199

If you would like assistance to get your message to the Premier, Minister or Local Member please call the IDEAS info team at 1800 029 904. If you would be happy to share your IDEAS story with us to try and get in the media, please let Diana Palmer  our Executive Officer know on 1800 029 904, or

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Review of the DIYModify App

Hillary Wilde, IDEAS Database Support reviewed the DIY Modify App, an app for people looking to modify their existing homes.

The DIYModify app is an excellent information resource for people wanting to modify their existing homes for increased mobility and accessibility, in and around, their homes.

It is developed by HMInfo (Home Modification Information Clearinghouse – a website providing free, universally accessible, evidence-based design resources), which is part of the University of New South Wales’ Faculty of the Built Environment.

The app provides descriptions, diagrams and a limited price guide for accessibility related items. It is laid out very well aesthetically, providing a very simple and easy to understand user experience.
However, some of the usability features are a bit clunky. Having to rely on the “Next” button to move to the next page is not as user friendly or intuitive as it could be. The button is small and is a white button on a white background, which doesn’t stand out straight away.

A lot of time was spent trying to use the standard swipe gesture to move to the next screen to no avail. It is understandable needing a ‘next’ button for page readers, but both standard finger gestures and buttons can be utilised simultaneously, and perhaps this would create a smoother end user experience.

Another consideration would be to include accessible light switches and adjusting light switch heights, as well as benchtops etc. as further options.

Ultimately, integration with the HMInfo database to provide links to suppliers in the end-user’s location should be considered a top priority for the developers of this app. All in all, this app has great potential and is well thought out and developed. 

For more information about the app or modifying your home, contact IDEAS or call 1800 029 904. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Light up your night with Vivid

[Image description: The Sydney Opera House lit up in colours of pinks and blue in an abstract design during the Sydney Vivid Festival in 2017. Image source: Sydney Vivid website.]

Running from 26th May to 17th June, Sydney’s Vivid Festival is the largest of its kind in Australia. And we are pleased to see the continued investment by the Festival organisers into making the event more accessible year on year. 

This year’s festival has even more sensory friendly events, audio described and Auslan interpreted events and wheelchair accessible areas than ever before, to make the festival an event that everyone can enjoy. 

The event is split into three areas: Vivid Light, Vivid Music and Vivid Ideas. 

Vivid Light

Vivid Light is the main attraction for most visitors to Vivid and where light art installations are projected onto the side of iconic Sydney buildings such as the Opera House, Customs House, and The Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Additionally, there are standalone art pieces and sculptures dotted throughout precincts across the city. These include Barangaroo, Chatswood, Darling Harbour, Opera House, Taronga Zoo and the Rocks, amongst others. 

There are 58 installations that are wheelchair friendly, 67 that are audio described, 1 Companion Card and 1 that is sensory friendly. 

From ethereal columns, to sunflowers, to the harbour bridge and beyond to the Sydney Opera House, there really is a vast array of interactive and beautiful lights displays. 

For more information about the light installations, visit: 

Vivid Music

Vivid Music is a dynamic program of cutting-edge music including live performances and music collaborations from local and international artists. 

There is a multitude of music events across the city. An example of an accessible, Hearing Loop friendly experience is Dianne Reeves, who is a jazz vocalist. This show takes place in the City Recital Hall which is an accessible and inclusive venue. Featuring a T-Loop system, National relay Service is supported, as are Companion Cards and offers lift access, accessible toilets and seating. 

There are a number of accessible music events taking place with more information available here:

Vivid Ideas

Vivid Ideas lets visitors connect with leaders and learn new skills through a series of lectures and discussions. 

Taking Artists with Disability Seriously

This event discusses how theatre makers, visual artists and dancers with disability get taken seriously by bringing together findings from across Europe, the US and UK where professional inclusive arts are explored. 

Three recent Winston Churchill Fellows, Sarah-Vyne Vassallo (Murmuration), Gabrielle Mordy (studio A) and Alison Richardson (RUCKUS) headline the event, with a panel discussion chaired by the CEO of Accessible Arts. 

There are many more interesting events taking place throughout Vivid Ideas. For more information visit here: 

There are many more resources available at the Vivid Festival website including an interactive accessible map, information on interactive tours and volunteers who can assist. 
Or if you need more assistance, contact IDEAS on 1800 029 904.