'Representing the Deafblind Community in Victoria'

Posts from the ‘deafblind world’ category

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

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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 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 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.

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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.

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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

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!

Deafblind World Workshop for City of Melbourne and Travellers Aid

On Wednesday 28th September 2022 Deafblind Victoria ran a Deafblind World workshop for City of Melbourne council and Travellers Aid after a long break for two years due to COVID. Three Deafblind presenters ran the workshop as a team along with six interpreters. There were six participants from Travellers  Aid and 10 from City of Melbourne.

DBV received great positive feedback from participants. Thank you to our Deafblind members Rodney Baskett and Sharon Sellick. Sharon travelled to Melbourne from Shepparton to present at the workshop. Also thank you Auslan interpreters for your wonderful teamwork!

Click for photos and testimonials

Deafblind awareness for Auslan interpreters

On 6th Aug 2022, Deafblind Victoria and ASLIA Vic/Tas held a training day for Auslan interpreters. Deafblind presenters (Heather Lawson, Alex Sar, Michelle Stevens, Trudy Ryall and Jasper Cleland) and Auslan interpreter Dennis Whitcombe demonstrated a range of communication styles, including tactile Auslan, “chuchotage” or re-speaking, assisted listening devices and deafblind fingerspelling. Participants learned techniques for effective communication with deafblind clients. The workshop was delivered in a hybrid format with both on-site and online participation. We are looking forward to working with more interpreters who have skills in deafblind communication! Thank you ASLIA Vic/Tas for arranging interpreters, venue, delicious food and all the technology for the live stream.

Click for photos