True Vision (2020), a documentary written and directed by Diana Fisk, is an exploration of how people deal with unexpected obstacles in their lives, and the perceptions that go hand in hand with diagnosis and disability.
In October 2014, a healthy baby boy was born to adoring parents Diana and Robert Fisk. Alfie was perfect in every way and just like his two-year-old brother William, Alfie had the endless possibilities of his whole life ahead of him.
But at four months of age, everything changed. Alfie was diagnosed with Nystagmus – a vision condition caused by an abnormal function in the areas of the brain that control eye movements.
Alfie's mother Diana immediately sought to find out as much as she could about the condition, but instead of finding positive outcomes, she found the opposite. Words like 'abused', 'bullied' and 'embarrassed' appeared as descriptors of the life children with Nystagmus experience growing up. Determined to provide a better future for Alfie, Diana needed to find someone who understood the challenges she and her family were about to face.
It was then Diana found Paralympian Jess Gallagher.
At the age of 17, Jess was in training for the national netball team with a clear vision of winning gold for Australia. After countless migraine headaches, she found herself sitting in a medical office, hearing the words 'degenerative' and 'legally blind'.
Despite being diagnosed with Stargardt's disease – a type of macular degeneration that causes a progressive loss of central vision – Jess, now 34 years of age, has represented Australia in three different sports and is the first and only Australian athlete to medal in both the Winter and Summer Games. Jess is also an ambassador of numerous not-for-profit organisations and a highly sought-after motivation speaker.
Jess was the inspiration Diana was looking for.
After several heartfelt conversations the two women connected, and Jess agreed to help Diana in a way that would show Alfie a new world of possibility and hope. A world where overcoming your obstacles is just part of a much bigger journey.
Through these two women on opposites sides of a diagnosis coming together, and the subsequent friendship that developed, we see the real potential and opportunity of a life otherwise labelled as difficult.
This study guide to accompany True Vision has been written for students in Years 7–12. It provides information and suggestions for learning activities in the learning areas of English, Physical Education and Health, and Media. Teachers should consult the Australian Curriculum online at <https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au> and curriculum outlines relevant to these learning areas in their state or territory.
As a curriculum resource, True Vision provides a positive, honest and inspiring account of what it means to live with a disability. The documentary broadens the audience's perspective of people who have a disability; highlights the importance of opportunities that allow people with disabilities, no matter what their age, to achieve confidence and independence; and helps the audience understand that people who have a disability are a unique and important part of a diverse society.
Activities in this study guide provide opportunities for students to:
- respond to True Vision both personally and in detached and critical ways;
- access, synthesise and apply health information from credible sources to respond to health situations;
- identify that human health and development is about expanding individuals' choices; enhancing individuals' capabilities and their freedoms; and enabling individuals to live full, productive and creative lives;
- investigate the benefits to individuals and communities of valuing diversity and promoting inclusivity;
- examine beliefs about ability and develop strategies to challenge narrow views of ability;
- discuss how resisting stereotypes and challenging disability discrimination can influence individual and community health and wellbeing;
- analyse the construction of True Vision and comment on the ways it represents an interpretation of ideas and experiences;
- draw on appropriate metalanguage to discuss the structures and features of a documentary;
- use their own written, spoken and multimodal texts to explore concepts and ideas and to clarify their own and others' understanding.
Teachers need to provide students with a safe and supportive classroom environment, particularly those students who may have a disability or live with family members with a disability. Teachers need to respect the personal circumstances of these students and remain aware of their sensitivities. These students may be willing to share their experiences and understandings of the ideas and issues explored in True Vision with the class.
Teachers are advised to preview True Vision before classroom screenings.