Kirsten, who has vision loss, has graduated from Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) Alice Betteridge School.
RIDBC Alice Betteridge School caters for students who have a significant vision or hearing loss as well as a level of intellectual impairment.
“Kirsten began her education with RIDBC when she was just three years old, receiving support from RIDBC VisionEd, which provides specialised programs for children with vision loss,” said Kirsten’s grandmother and carer, Yvonne.
“Kirsten then went on to RIDBC Alice Betteridge School to complete her life skills and education, which she loved. There the team of teachers, therapists, volunteers and students were like an extended family. I really cannot thank RIDBC enough – I know she has been given the skills to move onto the next stage in her life.”
RIDBC Alice Betteridge School provides an environment in which students receive a tailored education program to optimise their participation and learning. Most RIDBC Alice Betteridge school students will go on to a community participation program after graduating.
“All of our students have a significant vision or hearing loss and a level of intellectual impairment. Many also have physical disabilities and with all those complex needs open employment and university is often not an option,” said RIDBC Alice Betteridge School Curriculum Co-ordinator, Jessteene Clifford.
“With the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), post school options are becoming more and more individualised. Instead of students going on to a centre-based program, many are looking towards work in the community, and we support parents and carers to navigate that process.”
Throughout her time at RIDBC Alice Betteridge School, Kirsten has learned key practical as well as academic skills.
“With all our students we give them as many experiences as possible to help them grow in confidence and ability,” said Jessteene. “Throughout their schooling we provide students with as many ‘mainstream’ activities as possible –such as school open days, graduations dinners and participation on a school choir.
“Kirsten has really gained so much confidence. Before she graduated she joined a volunteer luncheon as one of the performers in the school choir. At the end of the performance I forgot to say thank you to the guests and Kirsten took the lead, completely unprompted, wishing the guests a good lunch!”
Students also enjoy a program of work experience throughout their schooling.
“Kirsten has been going to a nursing home and providing social visits to the residents,” said Jessteene. “She also took part in a program we hosted with Tara Anglican School for Girls. A group of our students met up over morning tea with a group of Tara students, giving them an opportunity to get together with their peers and develop the social and communication skills that will support them after school.
“We had a big class leaving last year and Kirsten was one of the great personalities at the school. She kept asking us how we were going to manage running the school without her – we wonder the same thing!”
RIDBC is Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education and diagnostic services for people with hearing or vision loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year.
RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in children’s lives. In order to maintain its intensive educational and research programs, the organisation needs to raise approximately $2.5 million every month.