Friday, November 30th, 2012

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has today launched a unique competition to promote independent travel for people with vision impairment.

The ‘Experience Unseen Travel Awards’ aim to show that travelling can provide the same experiences for people with vision impairment as for those who are sighted.

The awards offer $1,000 each to five people whose vision impairment affects their ability to get around on their own, to assist them undertake a desired travel journey.

Each winner will be asked to blog about their experiences, sharing their stories and explaining what independent travel means to them.

“These awards recognise that vision loss doesn’t have to stop someone from experiencing the joys of travelling,” said Frances Tinsley, Client Services Executive Manager for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

“From flying to new destinations to hopping on a bus to their local beach, our free services aim to give people with vision impairment the skills and tools they need to independently experience the places that most of us take for granted.”

The awards follow the launch of a series of thought-provoking TV advertisements from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT along the same ‘Experience Unseen’ theme. The ads, see links below, give viewers the perspective of someone with impaired vision as they explore familiar places – the city, the bush, the ferry.

Deb Warren, who is completely blind and currently in Tanzania to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, says the awards were a great way to encourage people with vision loss to get out and enjoy life.

“I've wanted to travel to Africa since I was young after patting a lion at a circus and I’m very excited to now have that opportunity,” says Deb, who lives in Armidale, NSW.

“I hope these travel awards can inspire people with impaired vision to realise that vision loss doesn’t have to end dreams.”

For Sydneysider Sarah Hirst, who is vision impaired and preparing to travel to Kenya for a holiday, travel is not just about "seeing" the world.

“It’s about using a fantastic blend of all my other senses to experience new things,” says Sarah. “I also love the freedom of knowing that when I travel I have the skills to do so safely and independently.

“These awards are a great way to give people the inspiration to go somewhere they have always wanted to and realise that having a vision impairment won't stop them living life to the full.”

The number of NSW and ACT residents aged over 40 with impaired vision is projected to reach 100,000 by 2020 .

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is the leading provider of free services that enable people with vision impairment to travel independently.

To apply for the Experience Unseen Travel Awards, please visit or call 9412 9300 for an application form. Applications open on Monday 3 December and close on Thursday, 31 January 2013. Winners will be announced on Monday, February 18, 2013 and will have until 30 November 2013 to complete and blog about their travel experience.

Contact Profile

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is the leading provider of guide dogs and orientation and mobility services to enable people with impaired vision to get around their communities independently. Services include providing training and aids including long canes, guide dogs and electronic travel devices such as talking GPS technology. Visit, call 1800 804 805, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
Sally Edgar
P: 0413 753 241


vision impaired, vision impairment, impaired vision, vision loss, blind, blindness, guide dogs


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