In this issue:
- From the Chief Executive
- A story of success
- Opening up a world of opportunity
- Vincy ready for ‘big school’
- Little Sam is starting to speak
- What’s on at RIDBC
- You can make a difference
The start of a new year is always exciting. Many students are starting ‘big school’ and my son, Levi, will be one of them. I can really identify with how Jenny and Jacky must be feeling as they watch Vincy, who is profiled in this edition, start her next adventure at RIDBC Garfield Barwick School.
Sam’s story, also profiled, demonstrates the wonderful outcomes which can be achieved through technology and quality early intervention. Sam’s two cochlear implants have opened up a world of sound to him, and RIDBC Teleschool has opened up access to the highest quality early intervention.
RIDBC is making a substantial investment in both cochlear implant services and videoconferencing technology in 2012, ensuring the very best outcomes for many more children like Sam.
We also have three significant new appointments at RIDBC.
Paul Colyer was recently appointed Principal of RIDBC Alice Betteridge School. Paul has had an impressive career as an educator and has held various positions working as a Principal before he came to RIDBC.
Michelle Disbery has been appointed as Head of RIDBC Early Childhood Services (Hearing Impairment). Michelle has held various roles at RIDBC and takes over from Sue Benzie who retires in January after 17 outstanding years at RIDBC. We wish Sue the very best.
Reuben Mourad has been appointed an official RIDBC Ambassador. Reuben is a television presenter for The Weather Channel and has volunteered at RIDBC Alice Betteridge School for many years.
Warmest welcome to Paul, Michelle and Reuben.
On behalf of the RIDBC Board and staff, we wish you the very best for the year ahead and thank you for your continued interest and support of RIDBC.
With the dedication of parents Kelly and Steve, and the expert early intervention of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children’s Early Learning Program, Emily and Sarah now have speech and language to equal their hearing peers.
When Kelly and Steve’s first child, Sarah, was diagnosed with a serious hearing loss it came as a surprise – there was no history of hearing loss in either of their families and there were no complications during the pregnancy. So when their second child, Emily, was also born with the same condition, it came as quite a shock.
“There was such a small chance that our second baby would have hearing impairment that we didn’t think it was possible. However, because we already had Sarah, we knew what to expect,” said Kelly.
Now Emily and Sarah both attend the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children’s (RIDBC) Early Learning Program, Nepean. “The staff at RIDBC Nepean don’t just provide a set program for a one-year old or a three-year old, they develop a program around the needs of each child,” said Kelly.
In recent tests Emily was found to have ageappropriate speech and language and Sarah was found to have speech and language well above average for her age.
Kelly and Steve attend every session with their daughters. They also attend other RIDBC parent activities, something not lost on Lynne Richards, RIDBC’s Early Learning Program Coordinator for Hearing Impairment. “Working with the parents is the basis of what we do,” said Lynne. “Having Kelly and Steve attend every session together, and be so involved in the support groups we run, has been the perfect scenario – and now we’re seeing these fantastic results with Sarah and Emily.”
Kelly and Steve are always looking to apply what they’ve learned at RIDBC at home. “Just the other night Sarah said some new words at the dinner table. We immediately turned it into a game to find more words with the same sound,” said Kelly. “Without RIDBC raising two girls with hearing loss would be so much harder.”
With the help of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children’s Teleschool, and with the support of her parents, Kandace is learning to read and write braille so that she has every opportunity to succeed in the future.
Kandace was three years old when she was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that causes deteriorating vision loss. Her father, Will, who is blind, found the news difficult to digest.
“The diagnosis had a huge impact on me. I have adapted to being blind, but you just want the best for your children – you don’t want them to have a difficult road in life,” said Will.
“I immediately knew I wanted Kandace to learn braille because I missed out when I was young. Braille literacy will give her the best opportunity to pursue a career after school.”
Kandace is enrolled in the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children’s (RIDBC) Teleschool where she accesses trained Teachers of the Blind from her home via videoconference.
RIDBC Teleschool Consultant, Tricia d’Apice, is currently focusing on Kandace’s braille reading and writing skills.
“Since starting the program in January 2010 Kandace has progressed to reading and writing the braille alphabet and predictable stories,” said Tricia.
“It is important to learn braille when you are young because your tactile sensitivity is at its best.”
Will is very thankful for the work that RIDBC is doing to support Kandace.
“RIDBC has provided so many services to support Kandace’s literacy and mobility, including a residential Braille Week which introduced us to other children living with vision loss, and their families,” said Will.
“The smartest thing I ever did was to tap into the RIDBC network. I’m forty years old and I cannot read braille, and I get to sit with Kandace while she reads braille at five. It makes me so happy.
“Life isn’t always easy but with braille literacy I know Kandace will have an equal opportunity to succeed alongside her peers. RIDBC has helped give my daughter that opportunity.”
With help from the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children Vincy has developed her speech and language, and is now preparing to start Kindergarten. It is an exciting time for parents, Jenny and Jacky, who are grateful for the support they have received.
When Jenny and Jacky confirmed they were expecting their second child it was a happy occasion. At the time they didn’t realise just how much support they were going to need.
Vincy was born with hearing loss and now, at five, she is ready to leave preschool for ‘big school’.
“We welcomed the early diagnosis,” said Jenny. “It meant we could get Vincy the timely help she needed.”
Now Vincy has bi-lateral hearing aids and has learned how to listen and speak with the expert guidance of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC).
“RIDBC has given us strategies to help Vincy annunciate and recognise individual sounds. RIDBC also assisted me with understanding the complex medical detail of her hearing loss, which was such a relief,” said Jenny.
Vincy has been attending RIDBC Rockie Woofit Preschool and is now starting Kindergarten at RIDBC Garfield Barwick School. She is learning Cantonese at home and English at RIDBC.
“Children with hearing loss need intensive support to develop one language, so Vincy’s bilingualism is quite a feat!” said RIDBC Rockie Woofit Preschool Director, Julie Kaney.
As part of Vincy’s transition to RIDBC Garfield Barwick School, which caters for students with hearing loss, a series of orientation days were held.
“Our preschoolers sit in with a Kindergarten class to give them the opportunity to get to know our teachers, the new routine and their peers,” said RIDBC Garfield Barwick School Principal, Sandi Ambler.
Jenny is thankful to RIDBC for having supported her in learning how to support Vincy and get her ready for school.
“No matter how tall a building is, without good foundations it doesn’t work – it cannot stand. RIDBC helped give Vincy those foundations and for that I am truly grateful,” said Jenny.
With help from the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children’s Teleschool, Sam is expanding his speech and vocabulary as he learns to listen and speak with the aid of his cochlear implants.
Sam was born profoundly deaf in both ears – something which came out of the blue for his parents, Alison and Russell. No one else in their family was known to have hearing loss.
Sam received two hearing aids when he was just four months old to allow him to access sound as soon as possible. When it became clear that Sam wasn’t hearing enough to develop language he then received cochlear implants at 13 months.
“RIDBC Teleschool was a fantastic support during this decision-making process,” said Alison. “The staff at RIDBC acted as a sounding board and they were very objective, which was incredibly important to me.”
With the family home a ten hour drive from Sydney, RIDBC Teleschool has been a great help.
“Videoconferencing technology allows RIDBC to bring listening, speech and language programs to Sam on a weekly basis – despite his remote location,” said RIDBC Teleschool Consultant, Neryl Horn.
“When Sam first came to RIDBC he was relying on body language to communicate. He has now come a long way and is learning to increase his vocabulary and sentences.”
Alison is very grateful for the support she has received. “Being able to access the program from our family home is so helpful,” said Alison. “RIDBC has helped me to feel really confident in supporting Sam.”
Sam’s progress is being accelerated because of his enthusiasm for matching his big brother Jack’s vocabulary, and Alison is encouraging Sam’s ‘can-do’ attitude.
“We consider Sam’s cochlear implants a non-issue. When he gets up in the morning he puts on his shoes and he puts on his ‘ears’. It’s just our routine,” said Alison.
“Watching Sam develop with RIDBC’s assistance has been amazing. To think how he started out – not being able to hear or speak – and to look at how much progress he has made. It’s incredible.”
Splash for Cash
Jump in and swim to raise funds for RIDBC at the annual Splash for Cash swimathon.
- 24 March Splash for Cash Sydney
- 25 March Splash for Cash Central Coast
- 25 March Splash for Cash Hunter
Join other literature lovers and raise funds for RIDBC at the Horizon Parliament House Authors Luncheon.
- 24 May Parliament House, Sydney
Don’t forget to select RIDBC as your chosen charity for these events;
- 18 March The Sun Herald Surf Swim (Dee Why Beach)
- 1 April Newcastle Herald Hill 2 Harbour Challenge
- 20 May Sydney Half Marathon
To find out more go to www.ridbc.org.au/event or contact Heather Klein on (02) 9872 0237
You can make a lasting difference to the lives of deaf or blind children through a bequest. For more information please phone (02) 9871 1233 or visit our website at www.ridbc.org.au.
Every year, thousands of people help the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) to make a difference in children’s lives.
Here are some ways you can help:
Make a tax deductible* donation
Many people and businesses give monetary support to RIDBC each year as their way of helping children who are deaf or blind. To make a donation phone 1800 043 411 or visit www.ridbc.org.au/donate.
Participate in a fundraising event
Everything from opera evenings to swimathons. To find out the latest fundraising activities, please phone Kaye Bailey on (02) 9871 1233.
Leave a bequest or legacy
Leaving a gift in your will can help educate deaf children or blind children during their important learning years. For further information, please contact Helen Brooks on (02) 9871 1233.
Become a volunteer
A team of volunteers supports our staff in areas as diverse as proof reading braille, helping in classrooms, or even gardening. For further information please contact Diana Piper on (02) 9871 1233.
Buy a Rainbow Lottery ticket
Our lottery is held three times a year and offers over $20,000 worth of prizes. To purchase a ticket, phone 1800 043 411.
Buy our merchandise
RIDBC has an extensive range of merchandise available for purchase. To request a catalogue, call 1800 111 474 or visit www.ridbc.org.au/shop.