App helps children with vision loss communicate this World Sight Day

08/10/15
adapting signs graphicRIDBC's new Adapting Sign app will support children with vision loss and significant additional needs

On World Sight Day, Thursday 8 October, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) is launching a new app to help children with vision loss and additional needs develop the sign language they need to communicate.

The 'Adapting Signs' app, developed by a team of vision loss and technology specialists at RIDBC, helps children with vision loss and significant developmental or intellectual impairments, to develop the key signs they need to communicate with their families or carers.

“RIDBC is committed to using mainstream technology such as the iPad to improve access for children with vision or hearing loss,” said app developer and RIDBC Speech Pathologist, Annette Clarke.

"Adapting Signs was developed in response to an obvious need. Our team of specialists were working with children in special schools, many of whom had not developed speech. We saw that the professionals and families supporting these children were using sign language to encourage communication.

"However a significant proportion of these children have vision loss – meaning that traditional signing methods weren't accessible. The children’s vision loss meant that they couldn’t see signs clearly to learn them. We wanted to develop a tool that would support a child with vision loss who needs to use expressive signs to communicate."

Adapting Signs helps families and care-givers adapt signs to better support the communication of children with various levels of vision loss and significant additional disabilities. The app allows users to tailor signs to suit their specific needs, with video recording functionality built-in so that a new sign can be recorded and shared with other care providers for that child.

"Some people are concerned that we are encouraging families to produce signs that aren't universal," said Annette. "However these are children with very significant additional needs who require a few key signs to communicate their needs with families and care providers.

"Our focus is on supporting these families with an experience that simplifies communication, giving these children the tools they need to express their needs, emotions and thoughts."

To find out more or to download the app, visit: ridbc.org.au/adapting-signs

RIDBC is Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education, cochlear implant and diagnostic services for people with vision or hearing loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year. Services are provided from 17 sites across Australia and through an outreach service that supports clients living in regional areas.

RIDBC is a charity and relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of children and adults with vision or hearing loss. 

Download Adapting Signs from the App Store (AUD $4.99)