Residential program supports children with vision loss

Dakota answering multiple choice questions on her tactile 'pop chart'

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

“Braille camps are held for children who are learning braille through RIDBC Teleschool. It is an opportunity for them to learn alongside other students similar to themselves. As well as an interactive educational experience for children with vision loss, the camps also give families the opportunity to socialise and interact with other families on a similar journey,” said Teleschool Consultant, Tricia d’Apice.

The parents who attended the Braille camp learned how their child can achieve educational and social inclusion despite their complex needs.

“Activities are planned with interesting Braille instructions for children to follow from cooking, science experiments, excursions and sports. We started in 2010 with 3 students and their families, this year we will have over 35 families staying for residentials for vision impaired children,” said Tricia.

Kyria, whose daughter Dakota, is 9 years old and has vision loss, flew in from Darwin, Northern Territory, to attend the Braille camp.

Dakota receives weekly Braille lessons from RIDBC Teleschool via videoconference.

“The support we receive from RIDBC Teleschool is amazing and has given Dakota extra support with her Braille learning. But more importantly gives Dakota connection with children her age who are experiencing a similar journey to her,” said Kyria.

“Our family really enjoy the Braille camps. Dakota enjoys all the activities and seeing her friends, and I love talking to all the other parents. It is a great time to talk about any issues or achievements that have happened throughout the year.”

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. "Young Dakota from Darwin is one example of the many who benefit from RIDBC’s support and expertise, and as a company we are very proud to help in our own small way."