Graduates make a difference to those with vision or hearing loss

05/06/14
Conjoint Professor Greg Leigh, Director, RIDBC Renwick Centre, with Maria at her RIDBC graduation

Maria Lupton was one of 60 graduates to be recognised at a ceremony at Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) for completing their postgraduate qualifications in sensory impairment.

Maria, who worked in early childhood teaching before moving into the disability field, has completed her Masters in Special Education (Vision Impairment) - helping to alleviate a critical shortage of trained teachers of children with vision loss

“While I was working in the disability field I saw an RIDBC consultant working with a child who had vision loss. It made me interested in the role. RIDBC advertised for that same position within weeks of that so I jumped at the chance – and succeeded!” said Maria.

“I’ve now been with RIDBC for seven and a half years. You rarely have two children with the same vision impairment – it’s a massive field to learn about so it was great to be able to study with RIDBC and take advantage of all our fantastic resources – such as the library. Working with families whilst studying at the same time has also helped me put the theory into practice.”

Maria says further education is an important part of her role. 

“Further education for professionals working with children who have vision loss is so important. When a child is first diagnosed parents really do need someone to help them through the diagnosis so they can understand their child's vision loss, how it will impact on their development and how they can assist them to use their vision. I also go and support preschools and schools as they often haven’t had a student with vision loss and need advice on how to best support them at school.”

RIDBC Renwick Centre operates in affiliation with the University of Newcastle, with all degrees being awarded by the University. The centre is the largest provider of postgraduate education programs in the field of the education of children with a sensory disability in Australia, and is among the largest and most widely recognised in the field across the world.

“With skilled early intervention and special education, children with hearing or vision loss can access the same opportunities as all Australian children and reach their full potential,” said Conjoint Professor Greg Leigh, Director, RIDBC Renwick Centre. “Children with hearing or vision loss get the best possible start to life when they, and their families, receive immediate support from appropriately trained professionals.

“Through RIDBC Renwick Centre, RIDBC and the University of Newcastle have reversed a trend of diminishing professional specialisation in the field of educating children with a sensory disability. Over 750 graduates from the centre are now working to improve the educational opportunities available to children with sensory impairment around the country and the world.”

RIDBC is Australia’s largest provider of services for children with hearing or vision loss, assisting thousands of children a year across Australia.  As Australia’s premier provider of training and education for professionals in the field of sensory disability, RIDBC also ensures that services delivered throughout government and non-government organisations remain cutting-edge.

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.

More information about RIDBC teacher training, professional development and research is available at www.ridbc.org.au/renwick