Enabling vision impaired people to drive

DATE: 22 October 2019

Enabling vision impaired people to drive

‘In the Driver’s Seat’, a community initiative supported by volunteers, pairs vision impaired people with driving instructors, who also have a set of brakes, allowing them the chance to get behind the wheel.

Yooralla customer Chris drove a car for the first time in more than 10 years since he lost his sight.

Chris, who lives at Yooralla’s residential accommodation in Frankston, was one of more than 110 vision impaired people who took to Sandown Raceway, as part of the Warrandyte Lions Club’s ‘In the Driver’s Seat’ event last month.

‘In the Driver’s Seat’, a community initiative supported by volunteers, pairs vision impaired people with driving instructors, who also have a set of brakes, allowing them the chance to get behind the wheel.

Ruedelle Long, who works at the Yooralla residential accommodation where Chris lives , said the team’s focus is to support residents achieve their National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) goals, as well as other personal goals and aspirations.

“We try to always stay on top of what our residents current interests are and what they what to do and we always look for ways to bring it into reality,” she said.

The team were excited to find out about ‘In the Driver’s Seat’ knowing how much Chris missed driving. After discussing it with Chris, they made an application on his behalf to participate in the event.

“The excitement on his face when we told him about the event was the most wonderful thing to see,” said Ruedelle.

Chris reached a speed of 130km an hour. He also had the opportunity to be a passenger in a V8 super car, which has always been his dream.

“The experience was amazing! I thought I’d never be able to drive again due to being visually impaired. The V8 super car was so fast I felt like I was pushed back into my seat. Absolutely brilliant! I will be going again next year,” said Chris.

Ruedelle said that Chris was very keen to share his story through Yooralla.

“Chris wants other people with vision impairment to know about this initiative so that they may also experience what he did in being able to get back behind the wheel of a car – something he did daily until his acquired brain injury,” she said.

Chris, who used to live in a nursing home, said that moving to the Yooralla accommodation where he now lives, was “the best thing” that happened to him. He now lives in one of the six purpose-built units specifically designed for people with disability with the aim to encourage independence and security.

Read Chris’s story or watch a video Yooralla made about him last year.

‘In the Driver’s Seat’ is an initiative of the Warrandyte Lions Club.

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