Children with vision loss go ‘under the sea’!

Huzaifa, who has vision loss, and Jack, get up close with a hermit crab

Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) VisionEd Preschool recently had an ‘Under the Sea’ experience with Rangers on the Run.

RIDBC VisionEd Preschool caters for children who have vision loss and this Under the Sea encounter provided the children with an opportunity to develop language in a fun, interactive environment.

“For children with vision loss who attend our preschool, having the opportunity to touch and interact with real animals is an integral part of their educational program,” said RIDBC VisionEd Preschool Director, Kathryn Bowie.

“In the lead up to the visit we have been learning about the sea, developing language and concrete concepts such as ‘what is a fish?’ We have also been learning about the environment in which a fish might live. We had a little toy fish in some water to help the students understand that concept. 

“Just imagine trying to understand the concept of a fin on a fish if you cannot see. For children with vision loss, being able to touch the whole animal allows them to better understand its individual parts.

“The interaction with the animals provided opportunities to build on the children’s speech and language, by exposing the children to new words in a meaningful context. The Under the Sea experience was very hands-on, allowing the students to touch creatures like sea urchins and sea stars. They also had a set of shark jaws so the children could feel all the rows of teeth!”

RIDBC VisionEd Preschool is a reverse integration preschool which is purpose built to cater for the needs of a child with vision loss. Children from the community also attend, effectively creating a regular mainstream preschool environment with a highly specialised program for children with vision loss.

RIDBC assists over 3000 children with significant hearing or vision loss and their families across Australia.

RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in children's lives.  In order to maintain its intensive educational and research programs, the organisation needs to raise approximately $2.5 million every month.