Residential program supports regional children with vision loss

Eden, from Southern NSW, is 7 and learning to use a Mountbatten Brailler and a ‘talker’, his communication aid

Eight families of children who are blind or have vision loss, as well as additional disabilities, recently attended an intensive learning program at Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC), 10 – 12 November.

The residential program was held as part of the RIDBC Teleschool service, which supports families living in remote and regional Australia using high quality videoconferencing technology.

“The theme of the residential was ‘inclusion’,” said RIDBC Teleschool Consultant Kylie Gouliotis. “Throughout the week we worked with families to show them how technology and sensory play can support their child to access communication, learning and social opportunities.

“We discussed the theme of inclusion through different activities designed to engage the children with their environment – such as going on an excursion to a park with special equipment set up for children with disabilities.

The parents who attended this week learned how their child can achieve educational and social inclusion despite their complex needs. 

“They experimented with assistive technology, made tactile and braille books and learned how to ensure their child can meaningfully participate in social and recreational opportunities,” said Kylie.

For the children and families who attended the week, it was also a rare chance to socialise with other families who share similar challenges.

“Families in rural or regional Australia who have a child with a disability can feel very isolated, when a family is faced with multiple diagnosis this can be even more profound,” said Kylie. “One of the most positive outcomes from the week was seeing the parents and children socialise and interact.”

RIDBC is Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education and diagnostic services for people with hearing or vision loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year.

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 more than $2.5 million every month.