'Representing the Deafblind Community in Victoria'

Deafblind World workshop for Auslan Community


Deafblind Victoria presents a training workshop, run by people who are deafblind to raise awareness for the Auslan community in Victoria, including Deaf, hearing, CODAs and Auslan students.

Topics include: integrating activities, deafblind communication, technology, barriers & access, demonstration of guiding and more.

When: Saturday, 22nd April 2023.

Time: 10am to 1pm (arrive at 9:45am for registration & payment).

Morning tea provided.

Where: Level 4, Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Limit: 30 participants

RSVP: deafblindworld@gmail.com by Thursday, 13th April. Please include your communication preferences in your RSVP.

Auslan Interpreters provided.

Cost: $25 full price, $15 concession. Pay on the day with cash or bank transfer.

Any questions? Please feel free to email us on deafblindworld@gmail.com.

Video above has the workshop information in Auslan. In the video, Heather is a deafblind woman with brown/grey shoulder length hair, blue eyes and a fringe. She is wearing a mauve V-neck t-shirt, sitting in front of a charcoal grey wall.

Deafblind Tips 11 – reflective tape

Hi! I’m Andrew. I sometimes have trouble finding my hearing aids case. I can’t remember if I left it in the lounge room, my bedroom or the kitchen. The case is black and hard to see.

I went to Bunnings to buy some reflective safety tape. I cut the tape into the shape of my hearing aids case but it wouldn’t stick, so I used some glue to stick it on. You can see it in the video below.

Now I can use a torch to look for my hearing aids case. The shiny tape makes it flash brightly. Without the tape, it’s really too hard to find at night! I kept losing it. So this idea is great. You just need reflective tape, scissors to cut it into the right shape, and glue. Superglue is best to make sure it stays on strongly.

DBV Connect is supported by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Go to www.dss.gov.au for more information.  

Deafblind Tips at DBV Café

As Deafblind people, we manage our lives differently to hearing and sighted people. We love sharing helpful hints and tips with each other, like how we know which bus has arrived at our stop, how we tell when bananas are ripe, or how we manage when in hospital without interpreters. Some of these ideas can be found in the Deafblind Tips section of our website.

On 15th March 2023 at DBV Café, members shared some of their best tips, including:

  • Adding a hair tie on a shampoo bottle to tell the difference from the conditioner bottle
  • Adding knots to shoelaces to match each shoe with its pair
  • Making your own travel book that helps you travel independently on public transport or in a taxi
  • Live captions on Samsung phones
  • Feeling the outside temperature by touching a window

Thanks to everyone who shared tips, and everyone who came to learn about them! We would love to add your tips to our website. The DBV Connect project has gift vouchers for members who share their skills and knowledge. Contact DBV to arrange to make a post on the website.

Click for photos

Craft group prepares for Deafblind Awareness week 2023

DBV’s craft group started in 2021 with support from a small grant, to prepare yarn bombing crafts for Deafblind Awareness Week that year. The craft group was very popular and is still running in 2023, on the second Wednesday every month. All Deafblind are welcome!

This year the group is again preparing crafts for Deafblind Awareness Week. There will be a window display at the front of Ross House, including air-dried clay ornaments made and painted at craft group. We enjoy the social connection and relaxation this group provides. It’s great for our mental health!

See photos taken by DBV’s Robert Lokmer on 8th March 2023. Thank you to everyone who came!

The Deafblind Community – Growing Together project is supported by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Go to www.dss.gov.au for more information.

Deafblind awareness for construction company

As Deafblind people, there are particular ways we move around built environments. Things like roads and paths, buildings, stairs and lifts, rails and signs can make our mobility in the community harder, or easier if they are done right!

Lendlease is a construction company that works on projects near DBV in the Melbourne CBD, including the Metro Tunnel project. We were really pleased when staff from their design team attended a workshop last year to learn more about how these projects can include deafblind access considerations. The feedback from this workshop last year was very positive, and Steven Weir from Lendlease arranged for a second workshop for staff who work on the building sites.

The workshop took place on Thursday 2nd March. Thanks Steven and Lendlease staff for listening to the Deafblind community and learning about how we experience the world! We look forward to more Deafblind-friendly city of Melbourne.

Click for more photos

Housing for Deafblind Victorians

What does an accessible home for Deafblind people look like? Do we rent, live in supported accommodation, share, or live alone? What barriers do we face to finding a safe place to live?

On 22.2.23, 10 staff from the Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) Market Housing team attended an online workshop by Deafblind Victoria to learn the answers to these questions. Despite many technical difficulties, it was an interesting and worthwhile discussion.

Three Deafblind presenters from DBV shared personal experiences of housing, described the layout of an accessible home, and gave suggestions that could inform housing policy. We would love to see some guidelines developed for housing services, so other Deafblind people are better able to use them. These might include:

  • Give more time for the process, to get appropriate communication and supports in place, including interpreters (which are in short supply) and orientation and mobility specialists
  • Allow the Deafblind person to visit the house and try out routes to shops and public transport around the house before committing to it
  • Listen to the Deafblind person! They are the expert on their own needs.
  • Consider housing Deafblind people together in a villa, units or a block of flats, where support and community can be shared.

The personal stories of all three presenters shows that housing can be a very difficult issue for Deafblind people. One presenter experienced discrimination and applications were rejected because of her guide dog. Another said that she did not know what services existed and did not know where to get funding or specialised support. The third presenter described living in a house without any private outdoor area, being stuck at home for days between visits from a support worker and being unable to go outside for sun and fresh air. These experiences greatly affect our physical and mental health.

Other issues were covered, such as the arrangement of furniture: an open-plan layout might not suitable for someone moving around the house by touch, “trailing” along walls and orientating themselves from table corners. Living in rural areas can be especially isolating for Deafblind people, where services are scarce and terrain might be rough.

The workshop facilitator, Heather Lawson, sincerely thanked Patrice Vassiliou, an intern at the Department, who helped make the workshop happen. We look forward to continue working with you to improve outcomes for the Deafblind community.

Click for images

Deafblind guest speaker Jael from USA

Today 15th Feb 2023 at Deafblind Café, 15 Deafblind people were introduced to new member Jael, who is also Deafblind and has moved to Melbourne from Texas, USA.

Jael talked about the services available for Deafblind community in the States. Funding for supports in America varies, depending on which state you live in. Jael worked at Boeing as a machinist with other Deafblind machinists. One of the work stations was set up with a braille display for blind staff! However, Jael saw more opportunities for herself here in Australia. She is busy learning tactile Auslan.

There were many questions from DBV members and a lively discussion. We wish to extend a warm welcome to Jael to the Deafblind community in Victoria, and we look forward to getting to know her more. Welcome Jael, and thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

Click for photos

Joe’s Exhibition and Time Out café

On 8th Feb 2023, 15 Deafblind Victorians with supports went to Time Out café to share lunch and see Deafblind artist Joe Monteleone’s exhibition. 31 people attended, including commguides, DBV volunteers and a couple of Deaf guests from interstate.

Joe is a DBV member and currently has his second art exhibition at Federation Square. It’s a beautiful image lino cut and screen printed in 12 panels that combine to make one large picture of Flinders Street station. The exhibition runs until 5th March; be sure to check it out!

Joe described the process and answered questions, with an Auslan interpreter provided by DBV. DBV member Michelle Stevens printed braille visual descriptions and Joe’s biography. There is also braille signage, and Joe’s videos in Auslan can be viewed by scanning QR codes. Joe brought and handed around a piece of vinyl for DBV members to feel the textures of his lino-cut carving work.

We look forward to seeing you all again at the next DBV craft group event!

The Deafblind Community – Growing Together project is supported by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Go to www.dss.gov.au for more information.

Deafblind tips 10 – Public Transport number signs

Deafblind Victoria member Andrew Howard has a great tip for Deafblind commuters catching Public Transport such the bus or tram, and he made a video in Auslan below.

Andrew says: “Hello. My name is Andrew Howard. I will talk about Public Transport number signs for catching buses and trams. There are two colours: black/yellow and black/white. You can use these when hailing the bus. [Andrew holds up 3 black/yellow number signs that spell 624]

You can insert different numbers into the clear pockets. [Andrew holds up 3 black/white number signs that spell 624]

You can use these number signs here in Australia, or overseas too. You can swap out the numbers for whichever you like, to catch buses and trams. Usually there are 2 or 3 numbers, but sometimes they add a letter, like X. They’re great!”

Heather Lawson adds: “When I went to Seattle in America, I noticed they use these number signs to catch the bus. Black/yellow numbers mean the commuter is Deafblind, and the bus driver knows to get out of the bus and help guide the commuter onto the bus. Black/white numbers mean that the commuter is hearing-blind, so the bus driver will call out to them to board the bus.”

DBV Connect is supported by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Go to www.dss.gov.au for more information.