CatchUp — The Guide Dogs Social Media Platform

  • 2023

  • Digital

Designed By:

Commissioned By:

Guide Dogs Australia

Designed In:


CatchUp is an online networking platform and community created by Guide Dogs. Purpose designed for people with low vision and blindness, it provides unique opportunities for people to learn from each other, discuss lived experiences, discover and attend events, and read exclusive updates about issues that affect the community.

view website

  • MORE
  • Around 13 million Australians experience long-term eye conditions. While we’re likely familiar with the physical implications, perhaps fewer know that vision loss often causes impact on mental health: including loneliness, worry, and fear. While there are many in person supports available, research suggests people with blindness can be hesitant to reach out and engage. Sometimes, it’s more comfortable to go your own pace. To connect with others on your own terms, before heading out into the world. CatchUp is designed for exactly that; a networking and support platform for people with low vision, their loved ones, and eye health practitioners.

  • As a highly accessible networking and social support platform for people with low vision or blindness, CatchUp provides a crucial sense of connection for those who need it most. It’s an online community where people can discuss experiences, find support and information, and meet with others who share similar life context—whether online or in person. CatchUp is carefully designed to facilitate a ‘go at your own pace’ experience; read about other peoples’ experiences in community forums, connect and form bonds based on common interests, attend events and workshops, or simply browse without sharing any information or insight.

  • As the world’s first purpose-designed social support platform for people with blindness, CatchUp has enormous potential for positive impact. At a personal level, the platform provides a valuable sense of community before connecting people with crucial vision support services whenever they’re ready to engage. At a macro level, while CatchUp currently supports Australian audiences, it can easily flex to support different global communities in future. CatchUp also features automated moderation functionalities, to ensure communities are self-sufficient and sustainable, and not reliant on resource-intensive administration effort.

  • CatchUp has been designed and built through a truly collaborative co-design process with crucial input from people with low vision or blindness. Every aspect of the platform—from sophisticated functions like onboarding tours and primary navigation through to micro interactions, such as ‘liking’ another person’s comment—is built with the highest level of accessibility. This way, we ensure a consistent quality of experience for people regardless of variance in vision, cognitive or physical abilities (which can be impacted by an acquired brain injury that also affects vision, for example), preference for assistive technologies, and more. We conducted thorough facilitated user-testing with a variety of people with different levels of vision, on different devices and assistive technologies. By using low fidelity prototypes and testing frequently, we elicited crucial insights to improve the platform, while ensuring CatchUp is built on a robust foundation of accessible design and development practice. For example, a person using keyboard navigation may successfully complete a goal that a screen reader may have difficulty with. This insight would allow us to pivot the design and code associated with certain elements of the platform, ensuring an optimum experience of Catchup regardless of how you choose to use it.