'Representing the DeafBlind Community in Victoria'

Deafblind awareness workshop for Auslan students on Zoom

Screenshot of Auslan students with home-made blindfolds doing an activity at Deafblind World

In November, DBV gave two Deafblind World workshops to students in the Auslan course at Melbourne Polytechnic. Although we prefer to run the workshops face to face, that wasn’t possible due to lockdown. Their teacher, Fiona Goldab, organised for them to join us on Zoom instead. It is the first time we have run the workshops through video conferencing, and we think it was a great success. The students were wonderful and made their own blindfolds – many drew funny faces on them. They learned about the experience of Deafblind people, tips for guiding and communication, and tried to do some activities blindfolds on at their home. We hope some of them will become interpreters and comm guides in the future and work in the Deafblind community.

Newsletter #4 – November 2020

Our last newsletter before Christmas is out now. Covid19 had brought DBV members together by sharing all the hobby the members did at home. This newsletter has a story from DBV member Gina about her craft work with macrame. There are more handy deafblind tips for your home, and a story about deafblind access to hospitals. And Christmas wishes!

Click here to download the newsletter.

New sign language service funded by the Department of Social Services

Great news that any Deafblind people who aren’t registered with NDIS can access interpreters, tactile interpreters and captioners funded by the Government. Here’s more information from the Department of Health:

From November 2020, older Australians who are deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing, and who do not have access to interpreting services through aged care programs or the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), can access free sign language interpreting services for daily activities such as:

– family/social events

– banking

– moving/selling house

– dealing with agencies/advisors etc.

These services are available face-to-face and by video remote.

Sign language services for deaf consumers or consumers who are hard of hearing are available in:

– Auslan

– American Sign Language

– International Sign Language

– Signed English

– Tactile signing and hand over hand interpreting is available for deafblind consumers.

Access these services

Clients will need to contact Auslan Connections in advance. Once registered you will receive a Department of Health booking code which can be used each time they book an interpreting service. Bookings can be made via the Auslan Connections website or by calling 1300 010 877.

Bookings should be made in advance when possible to ensure the availability of an interpreter.

Each client can access an average of 40 hours of interpreting services per year. Over the next six months usage will be monitored. A cap may be applied in the 2021-22 financial year.

Deaf or hard of hearing clients who are over 65 won’t be required to receive an aged care assessment if they are seeking to access interpreting services.

This new arrangement is in addition to the sign language interpreting services for older Australians who are receiving or want to access aged care services, as announced by the Minister on 17 June 2020.

International day of People with Disability – Dec 3

December 3 is the United Nations’ International Day for People with Disability (IDPwD), a day to increase awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability. To celebrate IDPwD, the ABC has a wonderful project to tell stories by and about people with disability across ABC Online, Radio, TV and iView.

One of the stories told was about DBV’s Joe Monteleone. Here is a short video produced for social media where Joe signs in Auslan and shows his art (transcript below):

Hi my name is Joe. I’m a husband and I’m a father of two. I’m currently a student as a visual artist. I’m doing a diploma and I’m a fourth-year student. I particularly love print making and lino cuts.

I’m deaf and I have Usher syndrome type 1. That means I see a really tiny space in front of me, like a tunnel, and all around that tunnel is black. So during the day, I have tunnel vision and I can only see pinpricks when I’m getting around, but at nighttime I don’t have any vision at all.

From my experience I’ve developed a dream that people in the community can become more aware about people who are deafblind. Please don’t see us as people who are limited and who face many barriers. You know, I’ve been successful enough to complete the kokoda trail and the trek. And many people over the years have always told me that I can’t. I can’t complete things. I can’t do this, I can’t do that. But you know what? I’m really determined to overcome all those barriers that I face, and I really don’t like people saying “no, that’s not possible”. Deafblind people can achieve whatever they want.

Deafblind tips #4: braille labels

Hello! Another deafblind tips is “Braille labelling”. Many years ago I was taught how to use the tool called a braille writing slate with stylus. I write by stamping any words in braille onto dymo tape then stick the label on any items. See video link to show you how to use the dymo tape tool that you can put labels on any things Whatever you want to. Also you could buy this tool from your NDIS funds.

See photos of labels, for example of herb spice, DVD, container.

Time for a joke. Golfie is my white cane. He is proud to show his braille label ‘Golfie’ because he is often taken mistakenly by other deafblind people. See photo or video. 

Heather Lawson – dbvheather@gmail.com

Video showing how to use a braille slate with dymo tape
Heather signs in Auslan about her white cane “Golfie” and why she labels him with braille dymo tape!

DBV member Gina’s story about macramé and crafts

I’m Gina and I have Usher Syndrome. Now my eyesight is getting worse, things look foggy. I had an operation two years ago but my eyes have changed. It’s sad. However, my hobby for many years has been doing craft – macramé, mosaic, knitting, crochet, etc. I love making different things with my hands and learning new skills. I am always getting ideas for things to make. I can’t stop! At the moment I’m doing macramé – it’s a beautiful craft of knotted cords or ropes in patterns. While some people are sitting patiently at home because Covid lockdown, I’ve been adding crafty things all around the house. Now there’s so many everywhere! Ha-ha.

With macramé you can use one colour or two and weave them together into a pattern. Different thickness of cord will make a different style. Cords can be made from cotton, yarn, or wool – there are lots of varieties. I find very thick cotton cord is too heavy. There is a video and photos of my macramé below. You can try it for yourself and have something beautiful to touch and hang on a wall.

Gina signs in Auslan about her crafts and shows her macramé

Deafblind Tech Talk #2: Seeing A.I. app for smartphones

By Michelle Stephens – dbvmichelle@gmail.com

The Artificial Intelligence app “Seeing A.I.” 2020 is an app for the iPhone which is an amazing device and very helpful for people who are blind or have low vision or deafblind.  The features this app has are:

  1. Artificial intelligence application developed by Microsoft for iOS
  2. A camera to identify people and objects around them.
  3. Audibly describes those objects for people with low vision.
  4. Scans short texts, currency, and a picture of a person.  You can tell when the light is on or off in the room.
  5. A product channel that is used for reading bar codes, with help this is a very useful tool.  Once a bar code is identified, Seeing AI will speak the name of the item.
  6. A handwriting function which can scan most handwriting which reads with the phone and braille machine.
  7. Has a colour probe so you can tell what colours you have.
  8. Seeing AI works well with Braille THROUGHOUT THE APP.
  9. Works with large print.
  10. Help menu.
  11. You can download the FREE app in the Apple App Store.

With practice, the app works well for a Deafblind person. I would like to see more features such as vibrations on the phone rather than sound.

You can learn more on the app website: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ai/seeing-ai

R U OK?

On 11th November, Able Australia had the 2nd webinar for the “R U OK” day. Two committees Trudy Ryall and Paola Avila from Deafblind Victoria was invited and we are impressed with how well this webinar went for the Deafblind clients from Able Australia. We had a different theme which was to share a funny story or to tell a joke. Great to see some familiar face from DBV.  Many of us all could of stayed on for hours! It was great medicine. We agreed to do another one sometime next year for the Deafblind clients of Able Australia in Victoria.

Click on this link for facebook users to view: https://www.facebook.com/dbv2018/posts/872165356942903

Newsletter #3, October 2020

DBV newsletter issue 3

The third DBV newsletter is available now. There is a story from DBV member Robert Toseland about his experience making a community radio show, as well as the regular Deafblind Tips and Tech Talk segments, and news about National Self Advocacy Week.

Click here to download the newsletter as a Word document.

Click here to read it online.

Deafblind tips #3: Carton flaps

Heather Lawson, dbvheather@gmail.com

Hey everyone. Another deafblind tip to share. When I go shopping, I like to buy milk and juice but all in the same style of carton. They are all in same sizes, very tricky to know which one. Now how I do this? Before putting cartons in supermarket trolley or in the pantry, I have to break one side flap of a carton for soy milk, break two side flaps for juice and the carton of almond milk with no breaking flaps. It helps me to feel the flaps when I need to. Question: Which carton is Deaf and have no ears?

Auslan video of Deafblind Tips 3 – Cartons