Firefighters' safety message for kids with vision loss

28/08/14
Liam, who has vision loss, feels the water coming out of the fire hose

Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) VisionEd Preschool recently welcomed a visit from the Baulkham Hills Fire Service, who shared their fire safety message with the children.

RIDBC VisionEd Preschool caters for children who have vision loss and this visit provided an opportunity for the children to learn via hands-on experience.

“In the lead up to the visit we have been learning about ‘community helpers’. For children with vision loss who attend our preschool, having the opportunity to touch and interact with elements such as a fire engine, gives them a better understanding of what is happening when they hear an emergency siren,” said RIDBC VisionEd Preschool Director, Kathryn Bowie.

“Children with vision loss don’t know the size of a fire engine because they cannot see it – but once they can feel the weight of the hose or climb into the cab, they develop a better understanding.”

Fire safety was a key focus of the visit.

“I’ve heard stories of children with vision loss hiding from firefighters because the sound of them breathing through their helmets sounds scary to a child. When our children have an opportunity to touch the helmet and understand that noise, it makes a huge difference.”

RIDBC VisionEd Preschool is a reverse integration preschool which is purpose built to cater for the needs of a child with vision loss. Children from the community also attend, effectively creating a regular mainstream preschool environment with a highly specialised program for children with vision loss.

RIDBC assists over 3000 children with significant hearing or vision loss and their families across Australia.

RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in children's lives.  In order to maintain its intensive educational and research programs, the organisation needs to raise approximately $2.5 million every month.