'Representing the Deafblind Community in Victoria'

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LendLease – Deafblind World

On the 25th of May, staff from Lendlease attended a Deafblind World workshop. LendLease is a construction company involved in the Metro tunnel project near Ross House, where DBV is located. Steven Weir from LendLease arranged for some of their staff to come and learn about deafblind accessibility in building design, and when projects are under construction. He said the LendLease team found the workshop brilliant and “full of great ways we can improve our places and spaces to help to provide a better experience for those who are DeafBlind”. Thanks Steven! We really appreciate you taking the time to work with us.

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Craft group – card making and beanie making

Kathy and Rodney learn to make beanies

On Wednesday 13th of April, DBV had our monthly craft activity day. DBV members Debbie and Kathy taught the group how to make beautiful art cards.

We also had art therapist Kim visiting from Camberwell Community Centre to show the group how to knit their own beanies.

Enjoy the gallery of photos below. We look forward to seeing you all at the next DBV craft day on May 11th when DBV visit ArtVo.

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Craft group – Southbank and National Gallery

DBV members Richard and Debbie with communication guides, engaging with Aboriginal art at NGV.

On the 9th of March, 13 Deafblind Victoria members attended our monthly craft group activity.

We took a trip to Southbank for lunch, followed by a trip to the National Gallery of Victoria to explore their Exhibition called “Marking Time: Indigenous Art”.

Enjoy the photos taken by DBV members on the day.

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DBV Xmas party

On the 1st of December, Deafblind Victoria held a Xmas party at the Richmond Rowing Club in Melbourne CBD.

24 DBV members celebrated with commguides, volunteers and interpreters; 58 people in total.

There were dress-ups with Santa Claus and his little helper making a guest appearance by Daryl Harrison and Sharon. Presents were handed out by Trudy and Paola. Speeches, raffle door prizes and pizza lunch were also provided.

DBV wishes to thank everyone for joining us to celebrate Xmas! Enjoy the photos.

Covid impact on Deafblind Victorians

As Deafblind people, we are especially vulnerable to Covid:

  • The virus spreads through close contact, and we are often in close contact with others for tactile communication and guiding.
  • Covid19 is more serious for older people, and most DBV members are older because deafblindness progresses with age.
  • Many of the measures used to prevent the spread of the virus present challenges for Deafblind people: social distancing, using masks, QR codes and changing to online meetings.
  • We already struggle with isolation and a lack of supports. Lockdown has increased isolation and reduced support even further. Some of us were not able to continue living independently through lockdowns. We were unable to get tactile interpreters for counselling and medical appointments.
  • The messaging from the government has been confusing and frightening for Deafblind people and we often felt left out.
Click through to YouTube for a transcript of the video

DBV stayed open for members through lockdown to provide essential support. This included Auslan translations of Covid information, help understanding lockdown rules, getting vaccination certificates, and fixing our computers, phones and communication devices. We worked hard to keep members connected through email, Facebook posts, newsletters and reaching out to vulnerable individuals. These communications included tips for communicating in hospital, if no interpreters or support workers are available, and information about vaccinations. DBV’s Alex Sar shared his experience with vaccination as a Deafblind person, to encourage others.

Catherine Dunn interviewing DBV members about Covid

DBV made a short video for the Self Advocacy Resource Unit to talk about what impact Covid has had on our group. A transcript is available on our YouTube page in the video description.

Deaf Victoria has a Covid outreach project to find out more about how Covid impacts the Deaf community. Catherine Dunn interviewed DBV members to make sure a Deafblind perspective is included. Contact Deaf Victoria to get involved: info@deafvictoria.org.au

Jasper Cleland, DBV’s Covid safe marshall, has also been meeting weekly with Bec Swansson, the Deafblind services coordinator from Able Australia, to collaborate on messaging to the Deafblind community regarding support workers and Covid safety.

DeafBlind World workshop with Bendigo Deaf Hub and Deaf Victoria

Deafblind Victoria members Joe & Heather with interpreters

On Thursday 25th November 2021 Deafblind Victoria ran their first regional Deafblind World workshop with Bendigo Deaf Hub (BDH) online via zoom.

Due to lockdown restrictions between regional Victoria and Melbourne area, Deafblind Victoria had to postpone their visit to the Bendigo Deaf Hub for many months unfortunately.

However with regular meetings between DBV and BDH online through facetime, zoom and emails, we were all very determined to work together on still having the Deafblind Workshop and decided to try deliver it online via Zoom.

Participants attending the workshop online via Zoom

At DBV we created our first ever Deafblind Experience Kit with some props such as blindfolds and earplugs, activity sheets and resources which we posted out to the participants before the workshop for them to experience deafblindness from home on the day of the workshop. If we couldn’t meet in person for the workshop we wanted to try bring the experience to them instead.

We are always trying new things like this at DBV.

Of the 15 participants that attended we had a mix of Deaf, Hard of hearing, and hearing people including interpreters, occupational therapists, counsellors, teachers and staff members from Bendigo Deaf Hub and Deaf Victoria.

The workshop was presented by two Deafblind Victoria members, Heather Lawson and Joe Montelone, sharing  various life experiences, information, running activities and answering many questions.

DBV members Joe & Heather presenting online with interpreters nearby

Here is some of the feedback we got from Bendigo Deaf Hub:

“A huge thank you for today’s workshop, it was amazing! It was a massive logistical effort by you all.

The Bendigo Deaf Hub team learnt so much from it and all the feedback we have got from participants has been really positive too. We really enjoyed learning about what it is like to experience deafblindness from both Heather and Joe”

Thank you to the Auslan interpreters who worked with DBV for this Deafblind World workshop, often not an easy task when on working online but in the end it really was a great success!

Also thanks to Ntennis and Justin for their support such as with the technology for the Zoom workshops.

-Heather and the team at Deafblind Victoria.

DBV Newsletter #6, August 2021

Click here to download the latest DBV newsletter. There is another Deafblind Tips article about how to make microwave oven buttons accessible, a report about a new smartphone app, a story from a DBV member about their experience with Covid vaccination, and more. While we can’t meet in person due to lockdowns, the newsletter is a great way for members to stay in touch with each other. Submissions are now open for the next newsletter – send us an email with your story!

DBV met with NDIA CEO & self-advocacy groups

DBV members sit with SARU and Martin Hoffman

On Wednesday the 17th March, disability self-advocacy groups met with the CEO of the NDIA, Martin Hoffman. The meeting was arranged by SARU. It was a hybrid meeting with some in person and some online.

People with disability shared their experiences of abuse and isolation in institutions and the community. They talked about how self-advocacy gives people a sense of belonging and pride.

Trudy Ryall attended for DBV. Trudy invited Martin to a DBV café event to learn more about our unique Deafblind community.

Trudy with interpreter and a video screen with Zoom attendees

We hope that meetings like this will help the NDIA to have a better understanding of the Deafblind community and self advocacy groups.


On 11th November, Able Australia had the 2nd webinar for the “R U OK” day. Two committees Trudy Ryall and Paola Avila from Deafblind Victoria was invited and we are impressed with how well this webinar went for the Deafblind clients from Able Australia. We had a different theme which was to share a funny story or to tell a joke. Great to see some familiar face from DBV.  Many of us all could of stayed on for hours! It was great medicine. We agreed to do another one sometime next year for the Deafblind clients of Able Australia in Victoria.

Click on this link for facebook users to view: https://www.facebook.com/dbv2018/posts/872165356942903