'Representing the DeafBlind Community in Victoria'

Posts by deafblindadvocacy

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

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

Another inspirational Deafblind woman in Victoria

Some of you may or may not be aware that there are many inspirational people with Deafblindness in the world.

What a pleasure to see another inspirational story about a Deafblind woman in Victoria who is one of our DBV members, Maree Heenan. She is well known in the Deafblind community. 

Here is an amazing interview about her sharing her life and her love of swimming at the local Peninsula Aquatic Recreation Centre.

Such an amazing story about her passion for sport and her family as well. 

Click on this link to read the full interview below:

Inspiring Women of PARC: Member Maree Heenan who is deafblind

Deafblind tech talk #1

Hi everyone! For those who may not know me, my name is Michelle Stevens. I am the Policy and Grants Officer for DBV. Each month I hope to write an article on adaptive technology and answer your questions. I have used adaptive technology for many years. On my computer I use JAWS screen reader for Windows and a Focus 40 braille display. I also use an iPhone with a Focus 14 braille display.

Speech to text (STT) software is a computer program that converts words that are spoken aloud to text. SST is also known as dictation, or speech recognition. STT lets someone speak into your phone and shows their words as text. You can read the text as large print or braille.

It is easy to set up. One of the things I really like is that you can braille or type your response back to the shop keeper, or ask questions just like a conversation. You can save the conversation for later, which is a great way to take notes.

It is not possible to always have a commguide or interpreter with you. I have used STT on my phone in some short appointments. It does not replace an interpreter but can get you out of tricky situations.

Email for more information: dbvmichelle@gmail.com

Video of Michelle signing in Auslan about Speech to Text phone app

Newsletter edition 2 – Sep 2020

The second monthly DBV newsletter is out now! It has a new segment, Tech Talk by Michelle, and another Deafblind tip from Heather with a clever idea for knowing what colour your jeans are. There is also an exciting update about DBV and other news for the Deafblind community in Australia. You can download the newsletter by clicking here, or view on the website here.

The newsletter is edited by Trudy. If you want to contribute a story to the next newsletter, please get in touch. You can write in simple English or sign in Auslan and we will translate it. We would love to hear from any Deafblind person in Victoria who has something to share with our community!

DBV remembers: Meeting the PM

DBV meets Julia Gillard, Wednesday April 17, 2013.
Photo: Mark Graham

On the 17th April 2013, it was an exciting moment for three members from DBV – Trudy, Heather, Michelle who met with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and Federal community services and Jenny Macklin at the 50th Community Cabinet Meeting, the fifth Community Cabinet in Victoria.

At the start, they had a private meeting with Julia and Jenny and talked about the barriers Deafblind people experience and self-advocacy for the Deafblind community. The meeting was planned for 15 minutes but extended to 30 minutes, which was a great opportunity to share with them and give them paper goggles with tiny holes. They wore the pinhole goggles while we discussed communication and mobility barriers.

Jenny explained to them about the NDIS that had not yet rolled out at that time. They also gave them a DVD that DBV made with SARU (Self Advocacy Resource Unit) about their lives as Deafblind people, and a T-shirt promoting Deafblind communication.

Afterwards at the community forum, Heather raised the issue of the closing of Kangan Batman TAFE Auslan courses and the concerns of the reduction of trained interpreters for the Deafblind community in the future.

You can read a document with each of the presentations, including a video transcript – click here to download the document. There is also a video from the community forum. Note: the video automatically opens from 41 minutes when Julia Gillard spoke about Deafblind Victoria.

Video from the Community Cabinet where Heather Lawson and Julia Gillard discuss the closure of Auslan courses at TAFE, 2013.

Deafblind tips #1: Bananas

DBV’s Heather Lawson has some useful suggestions for living as a Deafblind person. You can read her regular section in the DBV newsletter. Here is the first tip, in English and Auslan:

Hello, I would love to share one of many tips with you all to learn of my tricks. I have my commguides or friends assist me for food shopping. I usually buy seven bananas for a week. As I am deafblind, I cannot see the colours of green or yellow bananas. So how do I know the different colours? My supporters tell me the colours then I usually have a way to know the colour difference. The four yellow bananas I pull them off the bunch so they are individual bananas. Then I keep the three green bananas in a bunch for later use. I put all bananas in the fruit bowl.  Every morning I feel and pick ne yellow banana and eat it. Yummy! When yellow ones are gone then I break the green ones off the bunch that turn yellow later in the week.  One thing I never found the “bananas in pyjamas” named B1 and B2. They probably hide from me, scared if I accidentally take them home! 

Heather Lawson’s Deafblind Tip #1 in Auslan