'Representing the Deafblind Community in Victoria'

Posts from the ‘auslan’ category

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

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

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?”

ABC TV report: interpreter and commguide shortage

Last night, ABC TV news reported on the national shortage of Auslan interpreters and commguides. Heather Lawson was featured. DBV is glad that this issue is getting some coverage in the media. The Deafblind community in Victoria is really struggling at the moment, with very limited access to commguides. The situation has gotten worse over the last couple of years. Thanks to Meredith Bartlett and all who stepped in to support Heather’s access to this event, where the Victorian government announced funding for Auslan training. Gayle Tierney, the Victorian training minister, said that Victoria will add Auslan to the list of free TAFE courses. This is great news! See the 2 minute news segment, with a transcript below.

ABC TV News, Victoria, 16.5.2022
Click for transcript

New resource – learn the Auslan alphabet from text

There are many styles of communication in the Deafblind community. Some deafblind people grew up using spoken English and now want to learn Auslan. However, most resources for learning Auslan are visual. DBV has produced a new resource for blind and deafblind people, with a text description of the the Auslan alphabet showing each letter’s handshape, position and movement. This resource can be accessed in braille, through a screen reader, or in large print.

There are three versions: the Auslan alphabet for right-handed people, the Auslan alphabet for left-handed people, and Deafblind palm fingerspelling. This resource was developed by our wonderful volunteer KJ who continues to support DBV from home while we are in lockdown. We welcome feedback! Let us know if you found this guide useful, or if we can improve it in any way. You can download the resource by clicking on the links below for your preferred version:

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.