Residential program supports children with hearing loss

30/09/16
Residential program suppports children with hearing lossJacob (top right) with mum, Nicole, and brother Robert at RIDBC

Families of children who have hearing loss from regional and remote areas of Australia recently visited Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) in Sydney for a specialised residential camp.

The camp was held as part of the RIDBC Teleschool service, which uses sophisticated videoconferencing technology to work with children in the family home or at other local facilities.

“The week focused on giving the participants, aged 6 to 12, strategies to build confidence and resilience in the classroom,” said Head of RIDBC Teleschool, Tracey McCann. “This is particularly important when the children may be the only person with a hearing loss in their local area and they really have to self-advocate.”

RIDBC Teleschool families had the opportunity to socialise with parents and children from RIDBC Garfield Barwick School, which caters for children with hearing loss who listen and speak with the aid of cochlear implants or hearing aids.

“The camps give families the opportunity to interact and socialise with other families on a similar journey,” said Tracey. “The children participate in many interactive educational activities and this year enjoyed a fun night of toasting marshmallows by the camp fire.”

Brothers Jacob and Robert Kammermann, who both have hearing loss, attended the camp with their mother Nicole. The family live on a 5000 acre property, 700km from Adelaide.

“Living in a remote area of Australia, the family does not have access to a lot of services,” said Nicole. “To support our eldest son, Jacob, we were initially travelling to Port Lincoln, a 280km round trip, on a weekly basis for clinical speech therapy sessions from when he was four to eight years of age.”

Jacob began his journey with RIDBC Teleschool at age nine.

“As a family we would be lost without the support of RIDBC. Jabob, like Robert, has really benefited from the weekly videoconferencing sessions with his RIDBC teacher. He is now 13 years old and likes to communicate independently with his teacher and take control. This is all part of the self-advocacy that is supported through RIDBC Teleschool,” said Nicole.

“The residential camp is an opportunity for my sons to meet and network with others like themselves and is the only time they meet their RIDBC Teleschool teacher in person. They also enjoy all the camp activities and making new friendships.”

RIDBC Teleschool residentials are supported by Hyundai Help for Kids.

"We are constantly humbled and amazed by the fantastic work RIDBC does for children, and their families, with vision and hearing loss, from all over Australia," said Hyundai Motor Company Australia Chief Executive Officer, Mr Charlie Kim. "The Kammerman family is one example of the many families who benefit from RIDBC’s support and expertise, and as a company we are very proud to help in our own small way."

RIDBC is a charity and Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education and cochlear implant services for people with hearing or vision loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year.

RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in people's lives.