'Representing the Deafblind Community in Victoria'

Transport accessibility follow up

In Australia, public transport must be accessible. There are Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002, which sit under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA). The Transport Standards must be reviewed every five years.

Last July at Deafblind Café, the federal government consulted with DBV members about how Deafblind people access to trains, buses, taxis and other transport. They returned to DBV Café this year on 17th May to find out more about our experiences using public transport, and ideas for improving accessibility and the Transport Standards.

Katherine McKay and Harry Egan from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts asked questions and took notes. Members talked about:

  • how they learned to travel safely and independently
  • the need for transport staff to be aware of deafblindness
  • the impact of damaged infrastructure and disrupted services
  • signage and announcements
  • obstacles, mobility and visibility (glare/reflections, colours of rails, etc.)
  • taxis and rideshare
  • funding and subsidies

Here is a video of Heather talking about her personal experiences with transport:

Click for photos

Deafblind awareness in the Auslan community

Deafblind Victoria want the Auslan community to know that the Deafblind community uses Auslan too! We sign using tactile Auslan, tracking Auslan and visual frame Auslan. Some of us learn Auslan when losing vision and hearing. We would love to meet people who have Auslan everywhere we go.

On Saturday 22nd April 2023  we at Deafblind Victoria were excited to run a Deafblind awareness workshop for the Auslan  community once again after a few years of COVID and other obstacles.

3 deaf and 9 hearing participants attended. They were Auslan students, a mother and daughter, Auslan teachers, support workers,  a consultant and artist, and a teacher for the deaf. They did immersive activities with cardboard goggles and blindfolds and learned about deafblindness, methods of communication, how to guide a deafblind person and more.

Thank you as always to deafblind presenters Jasper, Rodney, Joe. Heather Lawson was the facilitator. Heaps of thanks to the wonderful friendly interpreters who helped make the workshop a success.

– Heather Lawson, Training Officer

Click for participant feedback and photos

Workshop for volunteers

Volunteers help at Deafblind Victoria every week, while learning about Deafblind culture and practising Auslan. This can be a pathway to future work as an interpreter or commguide, and also to friendships and social connection with the Deafblind community. We really value our volunteers!

On 1st April 2023, Deafblind Victoria ran volunteer training from DBV. 9 volunteers and 4  Deafblind presenters attended.

Volunteers had an opportunity to develop skills to help them support Deafblind people. Volunteers learned about the correct way of guiding, Deafblind communications and listened to Heather, Alex, Jasper and Rodney’s life experiences with Deafblindness.

Thank you to all who attended!

– Alex Sar, volunteer coordinator

Click for photos

Meeting the NDIA boss

On 4th May 2023, representatives from self-advocacy groups met with Rebecca Falkingham, the CEO of the NDIA. The NDIA is the government agency that runs the NDIS. The meeting was organised by the Victorian Self-Advocacy Network (VSAN). The representative from DBV was Trudy Ryall.

Trudy said “I represented on behalf of Deafblind Victoria and presented about the barriers the deafblind people face. And a great need of increasing the funding for advocacy groups.”

Great work Trudy! We hope that this meeting will help the NDIA understand how important it is to fund the work of groups like Deafblind Victoria where people with disabilities represent ourselves and our communities.

The photos show Trudy and Rebecca standing together smiling, and a group picture with self advocates, including DBV’s Andrew Howard with Trudy, interpreters and support.

Member story – Fish finger

Hi, I’m Heather.

I want to introduce you to my little friend Fish Finger!

Whenever my fingers get tired of reading braille, my darling friend Fish Finger helps me lighten the mood. He’s much more clever than I am, and very good at reading braille!

I learned braille over 35 years ago, and it has given me more independence. I use braille to stay in touch with friends and family, to access apps and websites, email, and access to support services like interpreting.

DBV Cafe – Deafblind services in Norway

At DBV Café 19th April, guest speaker Eli Raanes talked about Deafblind support services and interpreting in Norway. Eli is an interpreter herself, and she is in Australia to research deafblind communication. In Norway, some things are different. There is one role for interpreting and guiding. Every Norwegian Sign Language interpreter is expected to be able to work with deafblind signers, including guiding, using tactile signs, visual frame, deafblind fingerspelling and haptics.

Access to community is good, with rails and tactile dots on the ground, but the ground can be covered in snow, slippery and mountainous, so guides are important for deafblind mobility. There is no NDIS – instead, the government funds services directly.

After Eli’s presentation and Q & A, there was an Easter hat competition, and we celebrated DBV member David Wise’s 70th Birthday. Happy Birthday David!

Click for photos

Member story – Robert & photography


My name is Robert Lokmer .

I love taking photos! The bright LCD display on my camera makes it hard to see, so I changed the background to a black colour. I use the Zoom function to make the image closer. I’ll show you.

I enjoy taking photos at Deafblind Victoria activities, such as the DBV Café, craft group, and the recreation program.

I upload the photos to my computer and Facebook using the cloud.


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

Utilities and deafblind customers

Deafblind people in Victoria pay for gas, water and electricity like everyone else. However, when there is a problem with our utilities, many companies are not accessible to us. Even reading and paying bills can be difficult. Deafblind Victoria encourages all utility companies to provide Deafblind Awareness training to their staff, just like Greater Western Water did recently, when they booked a Deafblind World workshop. DBV staff visited their office in Footscray to deliver the training on-site on 28th March 2023.

Greater Western Water provides water and sewerage services to almost 1.3 million residential and business customers, from Melbourne’s city centre all the way to Lancefield. This company also employs people with disability, including two totally blind employees who attended the workshop, along with 20 other staff members.

One participant said “Thank you for including me! This has helped me to appreciate the perspective of a deafblind person and will help my goal of hiring more people with disabilities into GWW. I say this because I work in the recruitment team.”

We want to thank Greater Western Water for having us along and learning more about how services can be accessible to deafblind customers, and how to include deafblind people at work and in the community. Thanks to all the participants, and in particular to Diversity & Inclusion Consultant Missy Brown for arranging to have us. We look forward to another workshop with your company in the future!

Deafblind Victoria workshop presenters Rodney Baskett, Trudy Ryall and Heather Lawson, with GWW employees Missy Brown, James Malone and Brad Pinkett
Click for more photos

Deafblind Victoria Special General Meeting (SGM)

Special Announcement to DBV Members.

The Deafblind Victoria committee wants DBV to register as a charity with the federal government. This can help us raise money, and donations to DBV will be tax deductible.
The government will agree to register DBV as a charity with tax deductible donations, only if we make two small changes to our DBV rules or “constitution”. To change our constitution, the members must be asked to vote yes or no. There will be a short meeting to vote on this at DBV café in May. You are invited! We will explain in Auslan at the meeting. Let me know if you have any questions. 

When​: May 17th., Time: 12:00pm 
Where​: 4th Floor meeting room Hayden Smith Meeting Room:  Interpreters provided.  This will be a short meeting. No other items will be raised.  
Agenda and Proxy voting form will be provided nearer to the meeting date.  

Click for proposed changes to the constitution

Peer training at DBV

When we lose hearing and vision, there are a lot of things that change for us. We might need to learn to use magnifiers, braille, tactile Auslan, or a white cane. At Deafblind Victoria, deafblind people support each other through these changes. This is called “peer support”. Some of us have already lost vision and hearing, and have adapted to our new life. We love to welcome people into our wonderful Deafblind community and share the skills we have learned living as Deafblind people. This happens informally at DBV social events and the drop-in program at DBV Connect on Thursdays. Both are free for any deafblind person to attend. You can also find handy tips on our website.

Deafblind Victoria now also offers specialist one-to-one peer training in tactile Auslan, Deafblind communication, braille and technology, which can be charged to your NDIS. Contact DBV to arrange a session. If you are a professional and want to work with a peer trainer to get the best outcomes for your client, please also get in touch!

See photos below of deafblind people learning tactile Auslan and braille from deafblind trainers.