Supporting people with vision loss - Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children

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Supporting people with vision loss

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RIDBC supports children who are blind or have low vision. From a specialist preschool and school; supporting children in their mainstream schools; offering critical early intervention therapy; conducting vision assessments; providing support with assistive technology; delivering remote services via telepractice; and providing complementary allied health services, RIDBC is here to help.

Where it all started

In 1869, nine years after RIDBC was established, the first children who were blind enrolled to receive specialist services. Ever since RIDBC has supported children who are blind or have low vision.

Photo of RIDBC ABS student, Alisha holding the hand of a teacher

Making history

The name Alice Betteridge carries an incredible legacy at RIDBC. Here’s why.

At 4-years-old she was deemed too young and refused enrolment at the school – what is now known as RIDBC. But, she returned years later as a 7-year-old with her parents. This time she was accepted. The year was 1908 and Alice would become the first girl, who was deafblind, to be educated in Australia.

Influential in her education was her teacher Roberta Reid, who has an RIDBC preschool named in her honour. She taught Alice to fingerspell, achieved through associating objects to the words she was spelling. It ultimately proved successful.

Twelve years later Alice graduated from RIDBC, only to return later to serve as a school teacher for just shy of a decade, teaching students with vision loss.

Another momentous occasion in the life of Alice Betteridge, and RIDBC, came when world renowned American writer and activist, Helen Keller, who was deafblind, visited Australia in 1948. The two would meet in a well-known exchange, captured on film. Watch the story of Helen Keller visiting Australia and meeting Alice Betteridge on YouTube.

A photo of Helen Keller holding the hand of Alice Betteridge during her visit in 1948 Photo of Alice Betteridge as a young girl Photo of Alice Betteridge as a young girl

The influence of Alice Betteridge at RIDBC continues. In 1990 the school Alice attended, as a student and teacher, was renamed in her honour.

Today, the RIDBC Alice Betteridge School at North Rocks educates 21 students who are deafblind or have vision loss, as well as a level of intellectual impairment.

ABS student Massimo

Our clients – Sora

A photo of Sora smiling, with her dad Eric

“We’ll say something in Japanese, and she’ll respond in English. We’re so amazed by Sora!” said proud dad, Eric.

Read Sora’s full story on the RIDBC website.

Our clients – Benj

Two adjacent images of Benj, as a Kindergarten student and years later as a student in his final year of school

Benj has started his HSC and thanks to RIDBC’s school support, he’s ready!

Read Benji’s full story on the RIDBC website.

The biggest ever Braille Camp

For the children of RIDBC Remote Services, therapy is provided remotely via telepractice. In a normal year this included attending a much-anticipated annual event – a Hyundai Residential Camp. In 2018, Braille Camp was the biggest to date.

Relive the fun by reading the full story of the 2018 Braille Camp on the RIDBC website.

The future of vision services at RIDBC

Today, the expert team at RIDBC delivers services designed to meet the individual needs of children who are blind or have low vision. Services include everything from addressing concerns about your child’s vision development to assisting your child to build literacy, mobility, and independence in self-care.

At RIDBC, you’re supported every step of the way. And we will continue to support people who are blind or have low vision by uniting under one brand. For now, access more information about vision services at RIDBC.

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