Wakefield Park will hold a day with a difference next month when it hosts Australia's first ever bioptic driving demonstration.
Founder and one of four directors of Bioptic Driving Australia Belinda O'Connor said the purpose of the November 10 demonstration day was to show people what bioptic driving was about.
"It's to let people know there is an option out there for those with low to moderate central vision eyesight conditions and they are willing to put in the effort to go through comprehensive rehabilitation training," she said.
Ms O'Connor is one of three ACT residents holding a bioptic driver's licence. Drivers use a lens system with a telescope attached to a pair of glasses, above one's normal line of sight.
She says up to 4,000 Canberrans may be able to use the "life changing technology" to drive for the first time or continue to hold the driver licence privilege. Australia-wide, this figure may be up to 228,000 people, according to a 2020 Price Waterhouse Coopers report.
"Despite the technology being around for decades, including people using bioptics to drive in Australia since the 1980s and bioptic driving being legitimised in national law from 2012, as for many things that are outside the usual paradigm of what is 'normal' and/or 'niche', systems and training have not been put in place to give people the option to be assessed and learn to drive using the technology," Ms O'Connor said.
"This is why we set up BDA in 2017 to give Australians the same opportunities as seen in other countries with bioptic driving frameworks."
Canberra business Ascent Training Services, which runs the Road Ready Centres, is donating its time and experience to the day. Canberra driving school Fifth Gear Motoring will also supply cars, although some participants will use their own vehicles.
Their instructors will be sitting in the car next to the bioptic driver verifying the driver's commentary on what they say they can see while negotiating the obstacle course. The drivers will not be tested but will be expected to demonstrate competent skills in a simulated road like setting.
ACT Minister for Transport, Chris Steel, MLA and ACT Minister for Disability Emma Davidson, MLA have been invited to the event. It will be held at Wakefield Park from 8am to 10am on Wednesday, November 10.
Further to this demonstration day, on Thursday, November 25, BDA will co-present a bioptic driving education session for occupational therapists and driving instructors at the ATSA Independent Living Expo being held at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC).
For more information about bioptic driving go to the BDA website at: https://www.biopticdriversaus.com/
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