Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children
Annual Report 2016

Ensure Community Relevant, Responsive and Embedded Services

Throughout 2016, we continued to evolve our comprehensive range of services to meet the changing needs of the people we serve.

NDIS Progress

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) continued to be a major focus for RIDBC in 2016, including: maintaining a program of sustainable high-quality services aligned with new funding streams and criteria; effectively marketing our services directly to clients and sector/industry bodies; refining our information technology and financial systems; supporting local service growth; and collaborating with other organisations to meet client needs.

By the end of 2016, RIDBC had approximately 120 active NDIS participants, accessing supports from RIDBC sites in Northern, Western & Southern Sydney areas; Hunter & New England; the Central Coast; and in the Nepean/Blue Mountains regions. This figure also includes a number of children accessing services via RIDBC Teleschool from the ACT, South Australia and Queensland.

Throughout 2016, we worked with families to help determine the right supports to meet their individual goals, in preparation for their meetings with NDIA Planners. Many of our existing NDIS participants living in the original trial areas of the Hunter, ACT and Nepean Blue Mountains, have now completed their first NDIS Plan and we have commenced provision of supports under their second Plan.

As part of the ongoing implementation of the NDIS, we announced in 2016 that RIDBC will be participating in the NSW Transitional Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Approach. This approach recognises RIDBC’s existing capacity and expertise in the provision of comprehensive and well-integrated early intervention supports that build towards better longer term outcomes for children.

The roll out of the NDIS has been challenging, particularly as delays with NDIS systems and inconsistencies in funding packages continue to cause uncertainty for clients and staff. Fundraising remains critical for the ongoing delivery of our high quality and time critical services.

RIDBC Preschools

In 2016, preschool operations were responsive to demand across all sites. Enrolments remained steady across Rockie Woofit, VisionEd and Hunter Preschools. Enrolments at Nepean Preschool contracted, operating three days per week in 2016. Roberta Reid however, saw significant growth, increasing its days of operation from two days per week in Term 1, to three days per week in Terms 3 & 4. In addition to increased enrolments, Roberta Reid increased its staffing to accommodate this influx of children, requesting an Auslan bilingual preschool program. This increase can be attributed to both an increased awareness of and demand for Auslan programs and the fact that Roberta Reid is the only preschool of its kind in NSW.

Total preschool enrolments for children with vision or hearing loss in 2016 was 43. Of the 21 children who left preschool to commence kindergarten, five enrolled at Garfield Barwick School, four enrolled at Thomas Pattison School, and 12 enrolled in their local primary school.

RIDBC Preschool Support Program

As a result of the 2015 Preschool Review, an RIDBC Preschool Support Program was developed in 2016 to support the significant number of preschool aged children who receive an RIDBC early intervention program and who are also enrolled in a mainstream preschool or long day care service. This program aims to build mainstream educator capacity to include children with hearing loss in local services and provides services with recommendations to ensure the physical environment is conducive to learning for children with hearing loss. The delivery of this program will be trialled in 2017.

Unilateral Hearing Loss Guidance

In 2016, RIDBC Services responded in an integrated way to requests from an increasing number of parents whose child had been diagnosed with a unilateral hearing loss (UHL) or single-sided deafness (SSD) to provide information and guidance in developing and maintaining their child’s communication skills. Some of these children are being identified through the NSW Statewide Infant Screening - Hearing (SWISH) Program, while others are being diagnosed when queries are raised at school.

Parents are looking for information and support which we provide through UHL/SSD parent information sessions held in conjunction and collaboration with colleagues from RIDBC Jim Patrick Audiology Centre and our SCIC Cochlear Implant Program.

Allied Health Services

RIDBC Allied Health continued to provide a range of high quality therapy and assessment services to children and adults who have vision or hearing loss. In 2016, the range of services expanded to include:

Further Allied Health service expansion to meet client needs and wants will continue to be prioritised in 2017.

Jatin’s NDIS Journey

Jatin and his family are confident that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will help Jatin achieve his goals of finishing high school and living an independent life.

16 year old, Jatin, pictured with his family
became an NDIS participant in 2015

Caption: 16 year old, Jatin, pictured with his family became an NDIS participant in 2015

Jatin was diagnosed with cone and retinal dystrophy, a degenerative vision condition that results in decreased central vision, reduced colour vision and sensitivity to bright light. As part of RIDBC School Support Service, Jatin receives support from a specialist teacher in vision impairment, as well as a range of other professionals, such as an orthoptist, access technology consultant and large print transcriber.

With support from RIDBC and the NDIS, Jatin’s family is confident he will be able to achieve his goals and live an independent life.

“Under the NDIS, Jatin now has access to assistive technology and training which has significantly helped him in his day to day activities and most importantly with his studies at school and at home,” said Jatin’s dad, Deepak.

“Jatin wants to be independent, to do things himself and to make his own decisions. We are delighted to know that with the continued support of RIDBC and the NDIS, he will have everything he needs to work towards achieving his goals and dreams.”