'Representing the Deafblind Community in Victoria'

11th National Deafblind Conference – DBV group presentation

DBV were proud to present at the 11th National Deafblind Conference on 1st July. Five DBV members gave the closing presentation for the conference: “How Deafblind people run our own organisation”.

Jasper Cleland, Trudy Ryall and Michelle Stevens presented in Perth, and Alex Sar and Heather Lawson presented from Melbourne via a live video link. A video of the presentation is below; it is Auslan/English interpreted with live captions. Corrections for a few small captioning errors will follow.

Thank you to the amazing team of interpreters and commguides – all their names are listed below the speaker notes. Without them we would not have been able to make this presentation!

Abstract: Have you ever wondered how a group of Deafblind people can run a meeting? Hold community events? How would they access funding? What can they do without support, and what supports are needed? Since it was founded by three Deafblind people in 2007, Deafblind Victoria has become a flourishing community group with 45 members, a permanent office space and 8 staff. It remains grass-roots; all members and the entire committee of management are Deafblind, as are most of the paid staff. DBV runs a weekly drop-in program, monthly peer support events, a volunteer program, Deafblind Awareness training, and develops and shares information and resources. The physical space at DBV has been designed by Deafblind people, with communication and mobility needs in mind. In this presentation, members will share learnings, challenges and experiences in building and sustaining their unique self-advocacy group, including practises of peer mentoring and the development of Deafblind language and culture.

CLICK FOR SPEAKER NOTES

Covid safety workshop

Deafblind Victorians face unique challenges with Covid. For an overview of the issues, see our post from last November.

To help members stay safe and get support during the pandemic, Deafblind Victoria and SARU (the Self-Advocacy Resource Unit) ran a Covid safety workshop on 23rd June 2022. The workshop was facilitated by Miranda Darrer from SARU and Jasper Cleland from DBV. Members paired up to talk about their experiences of masks, testing, isolation, supports and access to information. They learned about which kinds of masks give you better protection, and they were able to try different masks and take them home.

Two guests attended to provide more information:

  • Bec Swansson from Able Australia answered questions about how Covid rules affect Deafblind people’s access to commguides
  • Christy Walsh, a Disability Liaison Officer (DLO) explained that each region in Victoria has a DLO who can help you access testing and treatment
click for photos

Deafblind Awareness month 2022

This year for Deafblind Awareness month there were a number of activities at DBV:

At the event on June 15, there was a presentation by DBV’s Alex Sar about his experience coming to our group, building his skills and confidence, and joining the management committee. Claire Fraser from Able Australia ran an art activity with DBV’s Robert Lokmer taking photos. Claire will join the artwork made with others from around the country and display it at the Deafblind conference in Perth at the end of the month.

The highlight of the event was celebrating with SEDB, a Deafblind community group in South India who joined us via a video call from Bangalore. There were lots of questions from each group to the other, and we really felt like we had found kindred spirits in another part of the world.

Issues such as a shortage of interpreters were common to both groups. At DBV we felt sorry for the interpreters in Bangalore who were working simultaneously with two deafblind people, using (one-handed) tactile sign language, and continuing without a break! They were very interested in our interpreting tables and want to know how they can make their own. We look forward to staying in touch and collaborating in future.

Click for photos and videos

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.

Click for photo gallery

DeafBlind tips #7: Hospital communication by Heather Lawson

Before my surgery last year I thought to try and created of the communication between me and nurses at the hospital. You know Sometimes interpreters or Commguide are not available to support.

I typed up a short instruction and is laminated in size A4 paper then typed on words in braille.

see photo of my original template saying, “I can read brailleā€. I may point which words to show you what I need. You can hold my pointer finger and touch any braille word for me to read. the words under the instruction are – hello, drink, see you later, food, how are you, good, bad, feel hot, feel cold, toilet, pain, comfortable, not comfortable.

See other photos of a bright yellow sign. This yellow with large black print sign is to pin on the wall near the hospital bed for better attention because most in the wards the walls are white. Something for a contrast to be easily seen.

The yellow sign on the top of A4 paper in big block and bold saying ‘I AM DEAFBLIND’ The next lines says, ‘Please tap my shoulder few times this lets me know you are here and want to talk to me. Please write words slowly on my palm hand with your finger in big capital letters. I can write on paper with my pen for you to read.’

From my experiences, I enjoyed communicating with friendly nurses which made me feel good. Also, I had the notebook with a pen for some specific information, I had to write notes for them to read.

I remember a bit after my surgery in the recovery room A nurse woke me up. I was drowsy while Nurse held my finger to the braille word ‘How are you’ I read and signed “thumb up’. After our short conversation, I was surprised that a nurse hugged me. Something that she was proud to talk to me herself.

I received some feedback from nurses, they liked the idea of communication template. They suggested me to add some more words. I will improve this system, but it is really up to deafblind persons to create to meet their own communication needs.

Deafblind mental health

Deafblind Victoria held a mental health event on 18th May 2022 that was attended by 14 Deafblind Victorians, and supported by 12 interpreters, 2 commguides, 2 DBV support staff, one Auslan student on work placement and one volunteer.

Trudy Ryall, a deafblind person who has experienced mental ill health, introduced the event, acknowledging the $1000 grant from the Deaf Mental Health trust fund (Ben Souter) that helped fund it. Many DBV members knew Ben and we think he would be proud to see our community coming together to look after deafblind mental health in his name. 

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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

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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