New app helps children with vision loss communicate

28/01/16
Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) has officially launched a new app to help children with vision loss and additional needs develop the sign language they need to communicate.Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) has officially launched 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