School Support for 21 years

23/08/11
Anne MurphyAnne Murphy at RIDBC

The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) is celebrating the 21st Birthday of the School Support Service.

Established in 1991, the School Support Service provides in–school support to students with a hearing or vision impairment who attend independent schools throughout Australia.

Teacher consultants pay regular visits to students in school, providing ongoing support and school liaison assist with the implementation of strategies to give the students full access to the curriculum.

RIDBC’s first support teacher for students who are blind or have vision impairment, Anne Murphy, began her work with RIDBC’s School Support Service’s inaugural year. Anne remains with RIDBC today.

“I began working for RIDBC because of a change in thinking in education which championed integration over segregation. RIDBC was at the forefront of this movement, moving students who were vision impaired or blind out of specialist schools and into mainstream schools,” said RIDBC Teacher/Consultant, Anne Murphy.

“The benefits were enormous; encouraging broader social circles through peer contact, better access to the mainstream curriculum, and allowing students to study close to home rather than having to be taxied to a specialist school that was often in a distant suburb.”

In the last 21 years the greatest change Anne has witnessed has been in the use of, and access to, technology.

“21 years ago students were limited to magnifiers and mechanical braille machines. Often the best you could do was to enlarge print by photocopying an A4 page into an A3 page. Now a student can zoom into electronic files and access any sized text they might require,” said Anne.

Technology has exponentially improved the opportunities available to students with vision impairment and RIDBC plays a critical role in assisting schools to ensure that their blind or vision impaired students have the skills to use that technology.

“21 years ago these students might have been limited to a career as a telephone operator. Now they can follow their dreams.”

The specialist support offered by RIDBC’s School Support Itinerant Teaching Service assists schools to ensure that hearing or vision impaired students attending mainstream schools receive the skilled special education they need in order to achieve their full potential for independent adult life.

The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children is Australia’s largest independent special educator, assisting over 3000 children with significant hearing and/or vision impairment and their families across Australia.