'Representing the Deafblind Community in Victoria'

New resource – how to guide a Deafblind person

DBV has produced a new resource by Heather Lawson with support from Melbourne Polytechnic. It is an 11-minute video showing how to guide a Deafblind person indoors. The following techniques are shown:

  1. Basic guiding
  2. Tables, chairs and objects
  3. Guiding a hand
  4. Stairs
  5. Wheelchair
  6. Walking frame

The video is presented in Auslan and has a spoken English voice-over. Next year, Part 2 will show how to guide outdoors and in the community. Enjoy and share this widely! We would love to see more people confident in guiding us.

30 years of the Disability Discrimination Act – a Deafblind perspective

2022 marks the 30-year anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA). To commemorate this occasion, and to reflect on the successes and failures of the DDA, the City of Melbourne put on a forum at the Melbourne Town Hall on 24th Nov. This forum included a presentation by Heather Lawson from Deafblind Victoria on a panel discussion titled 1992 – 2022: What’s Changed?

Heather presented the history of Deafblind Victoria as a self-advocacy group run by Deafblind people, and the gap between grass-roots self-advocacy and laws and regulations. Despite experiencing discrimination almost every day, in all areas of life, Deafblind people are mostly unaware of the DDA and do not use it. We typically have low English literacy, little knowledge of the law, and lack of support to engage with legal processes. This can be addressed by building knowledge and confidence for Deafblind people to become self-advocates, by strengthening the Deafblind community as a place of mutual aid and support, and by including Deafblind people when developing laws and regulations. This other work can make the DDA more effective.

Click for video and transcript of presentation

Member story – Jeanette’s cat Bobyn

Hello everyone, hope you all are well. I just wanted to tell you little story about my cat Bobyn.

My friend gave me kitten, very cute, I fell in love with her. Then 6 years ago, when my husband Frank was in palliative care, my daughter told me that Bobyn was deaf. I was surprised so took her to vet and they confirmed that she was deaf!

Bobyn is very clever, she knew that i am Deafblind. She gets my attention by tapping my leg or shoulder when she wants something. She is very affectionate; loves to nap on my legs and sleep with me in my bed. Loves my support worker Jess too when she came here to support me. Jess always brush Bobyn outside and loves it, meow a lot too.

Unfortunately sadly I had to put her to sleep on June 7th as she has stomach cancer. Only 11 half years young.

I will miss her so very much for ever! I had her cremated. Now i have urn and necklace. Great loving memories of Bobyn.

By Jeanette Loftus.

DBV AGM & Christmas Party 2022

New DBV Committee from left to right: Michelle, Rodney, Trudy, Alex, Heather, and Jasper joining remotely through Messenger on the iPad.

On Wednesday 30th November 2022 Deafblind Victoria ran a combined event with our first AGM and Christmas party to coincide with DBV’s 15-year anniversary! It was held at Richmond Rowing Club and the weather was perfect for a big turnout of over 20 DBV members, along with many commguides, volunteers & interpreters. DBV’s new strategic plan was presented, which shows our goals for the next two years – click here to download a copy.

All the current five DBV committee members will reprise their roles in 2023 and we welcome our newest committee member, Rodney Baskett!

Prizes were handed out for best-dressed, we had Kris Kringle gift exchange, and a guest appearance by Santa. We all sung happy birthday in Auslan for DBV’s 15th anniversary. DBV received some great feedback from members on the day. We wish to thank all of our members for attending and voting in the AGM, and the Auslan interpreters for your wonderful work.

Merry Christmas from DBV!

Click for photos and testimonials

Deafblind awareness training for Auslan students, 28 Oct 2022

Deafblind Victoria ran the second Deafblind World workshop to 15 Auslan students at Melbourne Polytechnic in Prahran on Friday 28th October 2022. There were two deafblind presenters, Alison Rawson and Heather Lawson, who provided the immersive live experience to students with earplugs, tiny-hole goggles and blindfolds. It was great to watch the students’ efforts to communicate in low vision and tactile Auslan, and for them to share their experience as a deafblind person in the activities. 

We were fortunate to get three Auslan interpreters. We were struggling to find interpreters. Thank you to lovely interpreters.

Click for more photos and comments from participants

Deafblind tips 9 – Ross House lift

Ross House is in central Melbourne. Deafblind people come to Ross House for DBV Connect. It is popular place for get together, learning technology, peer support, communication skills, meeting Deafblind staff, and so on. You can see photos and a short video of Deafblind people coming to Ross House and finding our way to the right floor to visit the DBV office.

In 1999 Ablelink was set up in the same location. It was a deafblind technology and drop-in centre. We Deafblind people often got confused and lost when getting out of the lift to the wrong floors. A simple tip was created to make Ross House more accessible for the Deafblind community. How? There are stickers with embossed numbers and braille numbers on them. These tactile signs can be felt when the lift door opens and we check the numbers on each floor, outside the lift on both sides.

Click the video to watch Heather show the Braille stickers below.

The Rainbow Project, relationships and gender identity

What does “gender” mean in the Deafblind community? What kinds of relationships and sexual preferences do we have? How can we make sure that everyone is welcome and included?

At Deafblind Café on 19th Oct 2022, Sherrie Beaver from the Rainbow Project and DBV’s Michelle Stevens gave a presentation and led a discussion about LGBTQIA+ identities and gender diversity. Members were able to ask questions and share their experiences. Some talked about having friends, family and support workers who are LGBTQIA+, and how they have become an “ally” (supporter). Others felt safe enough to come out as queer, trans and non-binary themselves. One Deafblind participant said that this was the first time they had ever talked about these issues in the Deafblind community. A big thank you to Sherrie and to all who attended!

Click here for transcript of the PDF and photos from the event

DBV AGM & Xmas Celebration announcement

“Hello, its Michelle speaking. I would like to welcome you all to our combined AGM & Christmas celebration. This will be held at Richmond Rowing Club on Wednesday 30th Nov 12pm to 4pm. The AGM will run for one hour. We welcome you to join us! Maybe we will have a visit from Father Christmas?”

Peer training for Deafblind presenters

15th Oct, 2022 – Deafblind Victoria delivered a peer training session for Deafblind presenters. We are thrilled that members have the opportunity to improve their skills in running Deafblind World workshops. Well done, Heather Lawson, Jasper Cleland, Alison Rawson, Rodney Baskett, Joe Monteleone, Michelle Stevens and Alex Sar. We look forward to you presenting at Deafblind World workshops in future!