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New Guide Dogs' eye care website scoops its first award

Healthy Eyes, a new website launched by The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association at www.healthyeyes.org.uk, has scooped an award at the 2003 Charity & Public Service Publishing Awards.

The website, supported by national healthcare provider HealthSure, was praised for its accessibility and bright design at the awards ceremony organised by Popular Communication Courses Ltd in London on Thursday February 19. It beat off stiff competition to be awarded The Charity and Public Service Website of the Year.

Created by Synergy, the site hopes to encourage the public to safeguard their eyesight through preventative eye care. It provides comprehensive advice on eye care for everybody and has special sections dedicated to children, teachers and professionals.

Emma Harris, Guide Dogs' Website and Promotions Officer, who managed the creation and launch of site, 2003, said:

"There are many simple things we can all do to protect and care for our eyes, and we hope www.healthyeyes.org.uk is a way of engaging the public at large to take greater care of their eyes.

"We are delighted that the website has won this award and hope that it will further raise awareness of the site and encourage even more people to visit it!

The site was launched in October as part of the charity's Healthy Eyes education campaign. New visitors to the site are encouraged to develop an interactive 'eye profile' - an individualized lifestyle quiz that helps them identify key areas that could affect their eye health, such as diet, leisure activities, work and DIY. The profile then directs them to appropriate areas on the site in order to engage them with the content in a personal way.

Visitors are also invited to take part in the country's biggest eye care poll, the National Eye Q, which aims to gauge the level of public understanding about eye health.

As much of the impact of the site rests on a visual experience, such as optical illusions, Guide Dogs has gone the extra mile for vision-impaired users by including truly vivid audio descriptions, streamed as MP3 files, of many of the pictures and visual effects.

People with low level vision impairments are also addressed. Many people who have partial sight loss don't even realise it, which is largely due to the gradual nature of the ageing process. So the site aims to be even more widely accessible, by placing tools for resizing text on every page, as well as providing a version that allows them to see a high-visibility black-on-yellow large text version at a single click. There is also a search facility on every page, enabling users to find their way to the area of the site they need with ease.