RIDBC Renwick Centre – a history of excellence - Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children

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RIDBC Renwick Centre – a history of excellence

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Photo of the Ian Paul Auditorium at RIDBC filled with people watching a presentation

The RIDBC Renwick Centre is leading the way in Australia for research and education in the fields of hearing and vision loss, offering a wide range of education options for professionals in education and allied health, parents, and carers.

A recent history

The Renwick Centre was established by RIDBC in 1992, named for the Hon. Sir Arthur Renwick, RIDBC’s second President. Sir Arthur remains the longest serving President, having presided for 27 years from 1881 until his death in 1908. He was a physician and at various times President of the NSW Medical Board, Minister for Education in the NSW Government, and Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney.

Black and white portrait photo of Sir Arthur Renwick

From the beginning, RIDBC Renwick Centre has been committed to the provision of high-quality educational and allied health services for people with sensory disability through postgraduate education, research, and continuing professional education.

The Centre operates from state-of-the-art facilities at North Rocks, which include a lecture theatre, tutorial rooms and an extensive professional library operated in affiliation with Macquarie University.

Leading postgraduate study in sensory disability

In 1994, in affiliation with the University of Newcastle, the RIDBC Renwick Centre (then Renwick College) accepted its first students. In that inaugural group were seventeen professionals who commenced their studies in a Master of Special Education (Sensory Disability) program.

Since then, more than 1,100 professionals have received postgraduate awards (Graduate Certificate, Masters, or PhD) for studies through the RIDBC Renwick Centre including:

  • 466 who qualified as Teachers of the Deaf (TOD)
  • 219 who qualified as teachers of students who are blind or have low vision, and
  • 69 who qualified as Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialists.

Their qualifications are globally recognised, with students from 16 countries around the world now having completed postgraduate studies through the RIDBC Renwick Centre.

In 2017 the RIDBC Renwick Centre commenced a new affiliation with Macquarie University and began offering a new postgraduate program—the Master of Disability Studies. In 2019 the first group of graduates of that program received their degrees. Today, there are more than 170 students enrolled in the program.

Greg Leigh and Graeme Innes with Renwick graduates Cassandra and Sharon

Continuing professional education for Australia’s experts

In addition to postgraduate education, the RIDBC Renwick Centre seeks to build capacity for health and allied health professionals working in sensory disability through a broad range of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) programs.

Since 1992, there have been more than 50,000 participants in over 650 real-time and online courses or webinars made available through the RIDBC Renwick Centre.

More recently, the RIDBC Renwick Centre has been responsive to the growing demand for online learning by initiating the Renwick Centre Podcast series, with over 12,000 downloads of the episodes since its inception in 2019.

RIDBC Renwick Centre’s Trudy Smith interview Caio's parents

International recognition

In 2001, the RIDBC Renwick Centre was recognised nationally with the prestigious Business Higher Education Roundtable Award for Outstanding Achievement in Collaboration in Education/Training.

Among a host of other awards was the United Nations’ Zero Project Award (2020) for Innovative Practices and Policies that Help Improve the Lives of Persons with Disabilities—specifically for the development of the online program to teach the use of Unified English Braille, UEB Online. The story of UEB Online receiving global recognition features on the RIDBC website.

Photo of Trudy Smith, Greg Leigh and Josie Howse holding the certificate from The Zero Project recognising UEB Online

Our people

Underpinning the world-class excellence of the RIDBC Renwick Centre are the people administering the Centre and educating the students. It is not possible to recognise everyone individually, however a small number of highlights include:

  • Dr Frances Gentle (2018) and Professor Greg Leigh (2015) were each recognised in the Australian Honours System as Officers in the Order of Australia.
  • Dr Breda Carty (2013) and Trudy Smith (2019) each received the Des Power Memorial Award for Significant Contribution to the Education and Well Being of Deaf Children from the National Association of Australian Teachers of the Deaf (NAATD).
  • In 2019, Dr Sue Silveira was made a Fellow of Orthoptics Australia – the highest honour the Association can bestow.

Frances Gentle Photo of Greg Leigh Breda Carty Trudy Smith Sue Silveira

A commitment to research

Since 1994, research at RIDBC Renwick Centre has led to more than 420 print publications (journal articles, book chapters, theses, and books).

Notably, one of the books published through the Centre’s research – Signs of Australia: A New Dictionary of Auslan, has sold more than 10,000 copies. The aforementioned online resource – UEB Online, has been subscribed to by more than 22,000 people from over 150 countries.

In addition, the Centre’s staff have presented more than 600 papers at national and international conferences.

A strong future

RIDBC continues to operate the RIDBC Renwick Centre as a centre for research, professional training, and continuing professional education for teachers and allied health professionals working with people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have low vision.

We’re celebrating 160 years of RIDBC – our legacy, our innovations and the dedication of everyone who has made RIDBC what it is today. The RIDBC Renwick Centre is a critical part of RIDBC’s history and we’ll advance the RIDBC Renwick Centre experience by uniting under one brand.

Learn more about the RIDBC Renwick Centre by visiting the website.

 

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