'Representing the Deafblind Community in Victoria'

Recreation program – Luna Park

DBV members on the roller coaster at Luna Park

On Saturday the 26th of March, DBV members went for an exciting trip to Luna Park. It was a great day. Thanks Alex for coordinating the activity, and to all support people for helping make it a great day.

Enjoy the gallery of pics below. Photos taken by DBV member Robert. We hope to see you at the next DBV recreation activity! Check the what’s on page for updates.

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Tactile maps research

Leona and Ruth from Monash University testing 3D printed building models with Heather Lawson & interpreters

Researchers from Monash University are testing 3D printed models with blind and deafblind people. These models show the layout of rooms in a building, including the location of walls, stairs, toilets, shops and more. They can show different floors of the same building. The researchers, Ruth and Leona, visited DBV yesterday to test the models with DBV members. We think it’s a great idea and we hope to see tactile models of buildings in future! It might help us find our way around independently.

For more information on the study and to register your interest, please visit: https://forms.gle/fFvvUFRcztUJa7cE9.  

Contact Ruth.Nagassa@monash.edu if you have any questions.

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 newsletter #8, March 2022

This edition of DBV’s newsletter features the wonderful woodwork creations of DBV member Richard Howell, as well as updates about DBV’s recreation program, craft group and other DBV projects. The regular Deafblind Tips segment shows how a deafblind person can know which rubbish bin is theirs when living in flats or units. This month’s Tech Talk is about a braille display issue with iPhones.

To download the newsletter as a Word document, click here.

Medical trial – new drug for Usher Syndrome RP

DBV member Joseph Heenan visited DBV today to share news about a medical trial that he is involved in. Doctors are testing a new tablet to see if it can help stabilise Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) for people with Usher Syndrome. In the video, Joseph talks in Auslan about the trial. A transcript is below. Joseph doesn’t know if he is taking the real medicine or a placebo! If you want to join the study, click here for more information.

Joseph Heenan talks in Auslan about a clinical trial of a new medicine for RP and Usher Syndrome

Transcript: Hello, my name is Joseph Heenan. I have Usher Syndrome. I’m visiting to tell you about a new medial trial for people with Usher Syndrome. Here are the tablets that I will take for 2 years. You can join the trial too – download the flyer and send them an email to make arrangements. You can test the medicine for 2 years to see if it helps keep your RP stable. It won’t improve your condition but it might stop it from getting worse. Good luck!

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 #7, Oct 2021

Click here to download the October newsletter. This newsletter includes:

  • stories from DBV members about art and craft
  • a recipe by Jo Porter
  • a resource for deafblind hospital patients
  • an announcement about Claire Tellefson’s award
  • news and updates about DBV