RIDBC News Spring/Summer 2017

RIDBC News: A half-yearly publication of current information about RIDBC (Spring/Summer 2017)

In this issue:

  1. From the Chief Executive
  2. Making the Transition to NDIS
  3. Increasing Access to Early Intervention
  4. A Stronger Future for People with Vision Loss 
  5. Sign Language Curriculum to Increase Accessibility
  6. Research and Professional  Education at RIDBC Renwick Centre
  7. Advances in Hearing Technology Open Up a World of Sound
  8. A Lasting Legacy
  9. Upcoming events
     

1. From the Chief Executive

Welcome to RIDBC News – our new biannual newsletter designed to keep you updated on everything RIDBC!

In this issue, we share stories from some of the inspirational people we support, as well as the latest in research, technology, professional education, and fundraising.

You will also meet two remarkable RIDBC staff members, who worked with a team to develop and write Australia’s first Auslan (Australian Sign Language) curriculum, that is pioneering the way Auslan is taught in schools.

With demand for our services growing, our goal is to continue to broaden our reach nationwide. We are excited to announce the launch of our first site in Toowoomba, Queensland, following a generous donation from local philanthropist, Clive Berghofer. This site will provide a hub for expansion of RIDBC’s services across regional and remote areas, with a focus on early intervention and therapy.
As we grow, our existing sites and services continue to thrive. It is with great delight that we congratulate RIDBC Jim Patrick Audiology Centre on helping over 20,000 clients since its inception in 2002 – an extraordinary achievement!

We are now supporting over 8,000 people with vision or hearing loss across Australia – a record number that wouldn’t be possible without your generosity. From all of us at RIDBC, thank you for your continued interest and support.

I hope you enjoy reading the first edition of RIDBC News!

Chris Rehn
RIDBC Chief Executive

2. Making The Transition to NDIS 

As the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rolls out across Australia, RIDBC is supporting hundreds of people with vision or hearing loss, transition to the scheme.

The scheme changes the way RIDBC services are funded, with families now working with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to create an individually funded plan.

To support this ever-evolving scheme, RIDBC is undergoing significant internal changes with extensive staff education programs, new systems and infrastructure, and the provision of additional support services to families navigating the NDIS.

Sharon Lown, RIDBC’s NDIS Manager says, “There are a lot of moving parts to the NDIS and we are working hard by adapting our business model to the changes in funding, educating our staff and supporting children, adults and their families, to ensure we continue delivering quality services that achieve strong long-term outcomes.”

Sharon advises people currently negotiating the scheme, to review the resources on the NDIS website and keep informed. “The NDIS gives you more choice in your care than ever before, but it is a change that families need to prepare for. Visit the NDIS website to ensure you are eligible, understand which services will be covered, and find out when the NDIS is coming to your location.”

The NDIS is rolling out in stages and will be available across the country by 2019. 

For general information visit ndis.ridbc.org.au

For more information about using NDIS funding for RIDBC services, contact our NDIS team on 1300 581 391.

3. Increasing Access to Early Intervention

Early intervention services for children with vision or hearing loss provide critical support for families. RIDBC is committed to expanding these practices to regional and remote areas.

With the recent launch of our purpose-built centre in Toowoomba, Queensland, RIDBC is increasing access to vital vision and hearing services for people living in regional communities – something that would not have been possible without the generosity of local philanthropist, Clive Berghofer.

Marianne Kraszewski, Head of RIDBC Early Childhood Services for children with hearing impairment says, “Quality intervention early in a child’s life is critical as it greatly improves outcomes in language development. We work in collaboration with families and use state of the art technology, to ensure our children can achieve their full potential.”

She says RIDBC is at the forefront of early intervention practices, delivering specialist support via a high-quality video conferencing interface that enables those in rural areas to access RIDBC telepractice services. “These innovations allow us to overcome the challenges of distance, and reach a wider audience.”

These services offer a world of opportunity for children such as Henry, who was just five months old when he started receiving support from the team at RIDBC Hunter, in the Newcastle region of NSW. “There was a lot to take in as first-time parents, but we were extremely grateful for the wonderful support we received,” says Henry’s mum, Michelle.
At seven months of age, Henry received bilateral cochlear implants through RIDBC.

In 2016, the family moved to the NSW mid-north coast and were amazed by the services available to them despite their regional location.

“We feel incredibly lucky to continue to access RIDBC’s services. We recently attended a residential camp which allowed us to connect with other families whose children have a hearing impairment,” explained Michelle.

For children with vision loss, early intervention is equally crucial to assist families in developing techniques and confidence to enable their children to realise their potential.

Ana Radis, Coordinator for RIDBC Early Learning Program for children with vision impairment says, “Every child and family is different. We work with families through play, therapy and provide techniques to help them understand their child’s needs from a young age. This enables them to give their child the right support and encouragement that will see them flourish.”

Outcomes can include attending mainstream school with RIDBC School Support Service providing in-class assistance and learning strategies.

Kayla, who was diagnosed with congenital motor nystagmus at birth, has been supported by RIDBC since kindergarten. She recently graduated high school and is now studying a communications degree at UTS Sydney.

“I was provided with visual aids to assist me to read text, and given guidance from professional experts at RIDBC when I needed it,” says Kayla. “My vision loss has never held me back.”

Marianne and Ana both agree that it is only with the support of our generous donors that we are able to continue delivering services across the country. For children like Henry and Kayla, these services are life-changing. 

4. A Stronger Future for People with Vision Loss 

Ground-breaking research programs are a vital part of the work we do at RIDBC. This research enables us to continue to achieve outcomes for people with vision or hearing loss. In this update, we focus on research that is providing a better understanding of vision impairment in our community.

The Australian Childhood Vision Impairment Register
The Australian Childhood Vision Impairment Register was founded to collect the data required to build an accurate picture of the number of children with vision impairment in Australia.
Sponsored by RIDBC, and founded in partnership with families, health professionals, educators and agencies, the register gives providers and researchers access to data to increase vital services, support funding requests and provide targeted support to the community.

For more information on the register visit vifamilynetwork.org.au

Braille Literacy
Literacy rates have long been a key indicator for educational institutions, and now Tricia d’Apice, a vision consultant at RIDBC Teleschool, has been awarded a NSW Premier’s Teacher Scholarship to measure literacy rates for braille readers across the country.

These rates have not previously been measured, and the data collected will help to inform and improve the methodologies and resources used to teach braille reading.

“This research will allow us to determine whether students with vision impairment are reading at the same rate as their sighted peers; and if needed, how we can better help them develop the essential literacy skills they will need for life,” says Tricia.

Vision Fast Facts

223,000,000 people around the world have a vision impairment
$100K is the cost of an RIDBC research project to build a stronger future for people with vision loss
Over 453,000 Australians have a vision impairment
$345 is the cost of one early intervention or therapy session for a child with vision impairment
Indigenous Australians are 2x more likely to have vision impairment than Non-Indigenous Australians
$120 is the cost of one day of preschool for a child with vision impairment

5. Sign Language Curriculum to Increase Accessibility

In a major leap forward for equality, the first curriculum in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) has been published, providing a foundation for teaching the language in mainstream schools and increasing access for all students.

A collaboration between members of Australia’s Deaf community, organisations, educators, Auslan teachers and leading academics, the curriculum reflects the importance of Auslan in Australia.

The curriculum provides new opportunities for children who currently use Auslan to access education in, and about, their language, as well as increasing accessibility for those who wish to learn it as a second language.

RIDBC staff members, Drs Breda Carty and Louise de Beuzeville, who were heavily involved in the development of the curriculum, advise it will give unprecedented legitimacy to the language of the Australian Deaf Community.

Louise, a teacher and Auslan Coordinator at RIDBC Thomas Pattison School says, “This curriculum gives us a scope and sequence for Auslan. It’s important for any language to have a curriculum, but it’s particularly important in a language that is so different.”

“It’s a huge step towards equality and a wonderful feeling that our language is now included in the school curriculum,” says Breda, a lecturer at RIDBC Renwick Centre. “It will also give hearing students the opportunity to learn Auslan, allowing them to communicate with their deaf peers.”

To find out more about this exciting development, check out ABC’s media coverage, featuring RIDBC staff, students and parents at bit.ly/aBCCurr

6. Research and Professional  Education at RIDBC Renwick Centre

RIDBC Renwick Centre is Australia’s leading provider of professional development and research in areas related to the education of children with vision or hearing loss. The Centre offers postgraduate courses (at Masters and Doctoral degree levels) and an extensive program of continuing professional education for teachers, therapists, and a range of other associated professionals.

Visit ridbc.org.au/renwick for more information on research projects and publications, postgraduate studies and professional education. 

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7. Advances in Hearing Technology  Open Up a World of Sound

Today, one in six Australians is deaf, hearing impaired or has a chronic ear disorder. As technology advances, there are more possibilities than ever before for Australians with hearing loss to engage in all aspects of life.

The cochlear implant, a surgically installed electronic device, doesn’t just increase the volume of sound, it directly stimulates the hearing nerves in the brain, giving recipients access to a world of sound. It is suitable not only for children as part of an early intervention program, but also assists people with hearing loss at all stages in their lives.

And now, with the assistance of additional government funding, RIDBC is working with NSW Health to provide access to the latest in cutting-edge cochlear implant technology, through an extensive upgrade program.

While the implanted electrode lasts a lifetime, external sound processors have a limited lifespan for support, service and repair. To ensure recipients remain connected, the program will deliver upgrades to over 370 people in the next three years.

“Nucleus 6, the latest Cochlear sound processor, is designed to help clients enjoy better hearing in all situations. It works with adaptive technology which automatically responds for optimal hearing across a range of environments, even when there is music or background noise. It also has wireless capabilities enabling clients to link directly to devices such as a TV or smartphone via Bluetooth,” explains Eleanor McKendrick, Clinical Operations Manager at RIDBC’s SCIC Cochlear Implant Program.  

Did you know? More than 370 people will receive cochlear implant upgrades over the next three years.

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8. A Lasting Legacy

David, a charismatic author from Sydney’s Northern Beaches has decided to leave a lasting legacy, with a gift to RIDBC in his will.

David, who is the author of historical novel, The Rainbow Gold, dedicated to the memory of his much-loved wife, Lynda, says, “Lyn and I were married in 1962. When we realised that we were not going to have children of our own, we decided to make donations to charities which supported children - she loved children.”

David and Lyn, long-standing and generous supporters of RIDBC, experienced first-hand the challenges of living with vision impairment.

“In her late sixties, Lyn was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration that would ultimately take away her eye sight. She was having difficulty finding a talking book that she had not read. I jokingly said ‘I will write you one’ and I did,” says David.

“Before Lyn passed away we decided to leave the majority of our estate to organisations that support children and their families. I know RIDBC will continue to support future generations to come and it makes me happy to know that I’m able to leave a lasting legacy.”

Through his bequest, David, and others like him will help to secure the future of thousands of children and adults with vision or hearing loss, and will ensure the continuation of RIDBC’s vital services.

David has also generously donated the electronic version of his book to RIDBC, to be available for download as a thank you gift for RIDBC supporters, regular givers and alumni. To access this thrilling read, please visit ridbc.org.au/rainbow-gold

For more information about leaving a legacy with a gift to RIDBC, call our RIDBC Bequest Manager on 1800 043 411.

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9. Upcoming Events

Fundraising Events

20th – 26th August: Hearing Awareness Week. Find out more at hearingawarenessweek.org.au

September – October: Run, Walk or Ride. Get fit and have fun while raising vital funds. Between September and October, you can take part in a range of events in support of RIDBC including Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, Canberra Times Fun Run and the Sydney Spring Cycle. Find out more at support.ridbc.org.au

12th October: World Sight Day. Find out more at worldsightday.org.au

27th October: Hunter Baillie Circle Luncheon. In recognition of those who have chosen to remember RIDBC in their will, a luncheon will be hosted at North Rocks. To find out more about joining the circle, contact RIDBC Bequest Manager on 1800 043 411.

7th - 11th November: Qantas Pathfinders Revue. Join us for an evening of hilarious entertainment. Shows run every evening from 7th – 11th November at NORTHS in Cammeray. Find out more at ridbc.org.au/revue

9th November: Celebrate Oaks Ladies Day in Sydney. The Horizon Committee’s Annual Oaks Day Lunch, at the Hyatt Regency in Sydney CBD, will feature great food and wine, the latest fashions and fantastic prizes. To find out more, contact Colleen Keys at colleenkeys@hotmail.com

3rd December: International Day of People with Disability Find out more at idpwd.com.au

Professional Education Courses

4th - 5th September: Universal Design for Learning. Learn how to use this evidence-based framework to enhance learning for every student in your class. ridbc.org.au/udl

7th - 8th September: Viscon Biennial Conference. Designed for educators, support staff, and therapists working with students with low vision. This year’s conference will feature sessions on accessibility, curriculum, NDIS, and more. ridbc.org.au/viscon

15th - 17th September: Vestibular Rehabilitation. Learn how to manage patients with common vestibular disorders, from taking a thorough history to developing an evidence-based management plan. ridbc.org.au/vr

21st - 22nd September: Exploring Communication Rich Curriculum Strategies for Learners who are Deafblind. Explore methods to support learners from assessment to educational planning and curriculum. ridbc.org.au/explore

For a full list of upcoming professional courses visit shortcourses.ridbc.org.au