Hello ,

Welcome to issue 15 of the SVRC's fortnightly newsletter - The Bulletin.

Inside This BUMPER Issue

Here's what you'll find:
  • PD: Best Practice Inclusion PD Report, Round Table 2018, Another Fun Way to Learn the Braille Alphabet, Scholarship Opportunity (NSW), Dialogue in the Dark
  • Sport and Activities: Support Skills Try Day, Swimming Photo, Dot Power Report, Space Camp 2018 EOI, BCA Workshops, Public Transport: Try Before You Ride, 2017 Australian Goalball Championships, VI Cricket Schools Program, Guided Running for Budding Athletes, Tactile Bananagrams
  • Technology: VA Bursary Open, Windows 10 Magnifier Tutorial, Victor Reader – Tutorial 8, Magnifier in iOS 10 Video Tutorial
  • From the Field: Solar Eclipse Sonification 2017
  • News: Diary Dates, You Can't Ask That – Writing Competition, Student News – Star Wars, Links with Publishers, Goodbye to Play Equipment, Elephant Stamps for Early 2018 Resource Requesters!!!
Check The Bulletin archive for back issues!

Dates for your Diary

Here's what's coming up:
  • SSP Cricket Day: 22 September
  • Support Skills Try Day: 17 November
  • Dot Power Day: 21 November
  • SVRC Expo: 28 November
  • SVRC Christmas Morning Tea: 6 December
See the SVRC website for more information and online registration.

2017 Support Skills Try Day

From Garry Stinchcombe, Support Skills Program Coordinator
When: November 17th 2017, 9:30am to 1:15pm
Where: SVRC Donvale 370 Sprinvale Rd Donvale in the Ground of the Heatherwood School
Eligibility: Students who will be between Grade 4 and Year 10 in 2018, enrolled in a Victorian school and have been to EVAC.
What to do: Go to the SVRC website and under Education Programs locate the Support Skills information. Fill in the online form to register for the Try Day.
Closing date: Monday November 13 2017
For further information, please contact Garry Stinchcombe, Support Skills Program Coordinator on (03) 9841 0242 or email:

Best Practice Inclusion for Totally Blind Students in Regular Classrooms – report on PD day held September 6, 2017

SVRC hosted a special day for teams of school personnel, teachers, and families, all of who have children starting in 2018 who will be braille readers. It just happens that there are seven children who are blind starting in Foundation in Victoria in 2018. We did explain to the group how unique this is. There were also teams from four other schools where a child is starting in a higher grade, and is a braille reader. Some VTs and VT Managers also shared this experience, as well as one Vision Australia, Early Childhood educator. All in all, we had 40+ people in the centre including a team from Mildura(!) and one family represented by Mum, Dad and Grand-father(!!), such was the level of interest in the offerings.

The aim of the day was to explain the supports available to our students, what the classroom set up could/should look like, how one learns to read via braille and how resources are requested and/or applied for.

We started the day asking the group what questions they wanted answered:

* How do we provide access to the curriculum?
* How do we cater for our student at recess and lunch times?
* What do we need to do on excursions?
* What resources are available – from where, costs, what, how?
* How do we develop independence?
* How do we get the ES/aide to understand the child’s need to develop independence?
* Does everything have to be in braille?
* How do we help with friendships and social skills?
* How do we deal with foreign languages in braille?

So you can see this was a group of people committed to providing the very best opportunities for these students. All questions (and more) were answered during the day and feedback was ALL positive. We look forward to seeing most of the families with their little people at Dot Power on September 12.

Thank you to our SVRC team of planners, presenters, furniture movers, shoppers, technical supporters and refreshment providers. And a very big thank you to all the schools and regions that sent teams to this event!

Swimming Carnival

Ed: Here's my favourite photo from the Swimming Carnival. It shows Liam, underwater, approaching the end of the pool in his breaststroke event. The unusual effect is a reflection of Liam from the top of the water.
Student swimming at the SVRC Swimming Carnival 2017

Dot Power: Ever found a spider in your letterbox?

September 12 was Dot Power Day at SVRC. Eleven children ranging in age from 3 to 8, their parents and school teams gathered for a day of singing about and pretending to be a rather silly postman, and of course, reading lots of braille. Several VTs for Vision also attended, helping students and learning about tactile materials and methods of teaching. The parents also gathered with Geoff for discussions about starting school when you are blind. The children sang then re-enacted the postman song, wrote and received letters, played "Floor Swish" and more. We even had a large collection of various sized bikes, trikes and scooters for the children’s re-enactments of the postie’s deliveries (thanks Deb Lewis!). It was wonderful to see how all these little people are becoming such skilled two-handed, many-fingered braille readers, even the pre-schoolers!
The whole cast (of thousands, it seemed) was expertly choreographed by Lea Nagel with enormous help from all adults present, with production and IT staff madly putting resources together before and on the day, so all children went home with a kit of materials to read and show their families and schools or pre-schools. With eight braille-reading children starting school in 2018, SVRC is going to have a heck of a time producing their resources when they get to year 12!!
Photos show Lea Nagel on guitar, Olivia riding to the letter box and posting a letter, and Zoe reading braille. Notice that Zoe is being assisted at the elbows to have a fluid motion while reading her braille.

Space Camp 2018 and Expression of Interest for Chaperones

It looks likely that there will be a group of students travelling to Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCIVIS)
in Alabama, USA, in 2018! So the Space Camp wheels are now in motion!

SCIVIS is held each year in Huntsville Alabama, USA. A group of excited students with vision impairments are busy fundraising for their ‘experience of a lifetime’ which is planned for September/October 2018 (exact dates tbc).

In order to bring this dream to reality, the group require two chaperones who are willing to assist with and support planning; and then travel with the group. Please note, this is not a trip that is funded by DET. Chaperones will be expected to meet some of the cost of the trip. A portion of travel costs should be covered from the fund-raising conducted by the participating students and their schools.
Visiting Teachers (Vision) and other teachers who meet the selection criteria are invited to express interest in becoming a Chaperone for the 2018 trip.

The successful applicants will be selected according to a transparent, fair and merit based process in accordance with relevant legislation, codes and DET policies.

The Selection Criteria for Chaperone (two positions) for Space Camp 2018 are as follows:
  • Appropriate qualifications, skills, experience and interest in supporting students with vision impairments during the planning and undertaking of this overseas excursion.
  • Demonstrated capacity to support students with vision impairments for international travel to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama including during orientation, team-building and cultural activities during the excursion.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the DET ‘Travel Policy’ and other relevant procedures and guidelines.
  • Knowledge of the individual students and/or previous participation in camps with students with vision impairments is considered an advantage.
  • Staff gender balance will be considered as part of this process.
In your succinct written response to the selection criteria, please indicate that you have sought the appropriate permissions from relevant Regional Managers.
Feel free to submit an Expression of Interest together with another person if appropriate.

Please email Marion your Expression of Interest:
Closing date is Friday 20th October 2017.
For more information about Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCIVIS), please see the SCIVIS website. It is mainly focused on this year's program but there is plenty of background information available.

And if you are a student who is considering attending Space Camp in 2018, please make yourself known to Marion Blazé.

You Can’t Ask That!!! - SVRC’s Annual Writing Competition

Here at SVRC, we’re forever telling people there is no such thing as a "silly" question. If you want to learn, you have to ask! So inspired by the TV show, "You Can’t Ask That!", this year we’d like students to write about:
  • Funny/strange things you’ve been asked about your vision impairment
  • Unexpected ways people have reacted to your vision impairment
  • Ways you’ve reacted to people’s questions/curiosity
Any student supported by SVRC, can submit a written piece in their format of choice (braille, audio, etext, print, etc), with pictures or photos if you like. Submissions will be judged by a panel and prizes awarded within age categories.
With permission, some submissions may be published in our Bulletin or on our website. There is no word minimum or maximum, but the judging panel may not take kindly to reading your novel!!

Prizes will be announced and presented at the SVRC Expo on Tuesday, November 28, 2017. Prizes will include some wonderful Bolinda audio books – thanks Bolinda!!
Please submit your entries to:

Marion Blazé – SVRC PO Box 201, Nunawading, 3131 or

Make sure that you include the following information: your NAME, YEAR LEVEL, SCHOOL, Visiting Teacher name and contact email or telephone number.
Closing date: 7 November 2017
And good luck!

Vision Australia Further Education Bursary Program for 2018 is Open


Applications are now open. Eligibility criteria and contact details are available at the link above.

Guide Dogs Victoria – Referrals and New CMS Team Leader

Guide Dogs Victoria is very happy to announce that Simon McDonald- Kerr has been successful in achieving the position of Team Leader of the Children’s Mobility Service.

Please direct any Team Leader related enquiries to Simon, who can be contacted on MOB: 0449 903 441, Email:

For all referrals, please contact the customer service team on 1800 804 805 or complete a service request on the GDV website

By streamlining the intake of referral information through the customer service team, GDV will be able to act on your referral quickly, make sure it gets to the right person and is always followed up.
If you have any questions regarding the referral process, please feel free to contact Simon to discuss.

Round Table 2018 – Save the Date

The Round Table on information Access for People with Print Disabilities annual conference will be held next year in Sydney.
When: Saturday 5 May to Tuesday 8 May 2018
Where: Rydges Sydney Central, 28 Albion Street, Surry Hills
Further details will follow.

BCA Workshops for (Older) Students with Vision Impairments

As part of its 2017 National Convention, Blind Citizens Australia is holding some workshops which will be of particular relevance to students who are blind or have low vision in late high school or early tertiary education.

When: Friday 13 October 2017, 1-5 pm
Where: Novotel Glen Waverley, 285 Springvale Rd Glen Waverley
Registration: You can register for the workshops only, ($40 includes afternoon tea) or for the full convention, ($250) either online or via phone. Students under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. To register, or for further information about the convention program, visit: or call 1800 033660.


1.00pm: Registration
1.30-3.00pm: Workshop 1 Getting Results: The Skills Used by Blind and Vision Impaired Students to Reach Their Potential
Find out how successful students study, complete assignments, prepare for and produce their best work in exams. Hear how they manage their work at university and their lives outside it. Contribute your own hacks for getting the best marks for your work and meet and learn from others who know what it's like to be young, blind and studying.
3.00-3.30pm: Afternoon tea
3.30-5.00pm: Concurrent Workshops

Workshop 2A: Building self-confidence and communication skills
Self-confidence and communication skills can make all the difference to people who are blind or have low vision at school and in the workplace. People who are blind or have low vision at various stages of their education and career journeys will share personal stories and answer your questions about how they have developed these skills to help them achieve success in education, employment and daily life.

Workshop 2B: A Hands-on Introduction to Audio Editing
A small group of up to ten participants will learn the basics of audio editing through this hands-on tutorial. The workshop will enable participants to produce simple podcasts and audio projects.

Another Fun Way to Learn the Braille Alphabet

Source: Paths to Literacy website

Brilliant Braille Tiny Cards is a fun and free online method to learn the braille alphabet and selected punctuation via digital flash cards. It is suitable for children and adults who are sighted or have low vision. From the website: "An electronic flash card is shown with a dot configuration on the front, and a print alphabet letter on the back. Users match the dots to the alphabet letter and, as the player advances, writes the correct alphabet letter for the dot configuration."

Solar Eclipse Sonification 2017

Source: MashableAustralia

If you could hear it, what would a total solar eclipse sound like? Myriam Kramer discusses a new musical composition that "will help people who are blind experience the solar eclipse" on MashableAustralia recently.
Sonification: turning data into audible cues.
"As the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, blotting out the star for millions (last month), a team of scientists hopes that people around the United States will have the chance to listen to their vision of what an eclipse sounds like.
The team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology created an original composition meant to represent the eclipse using sound.
Each tone in the composition represents a different aspects of the cosmic event, and it's designed to help people who are blind or have low vision experience the eclipse in their own ways."

The composition makes use of high tones that represent the moon and low tones that stand in for the sun. Chirps and other animal noises represent the creatures that come out as totality begins or ends ... The music takes on an eerie quality as the 9-minute composition progresses. That eerie feeling is reportedly representative of what many people feel during an eclipse, as the moon makes the sun disappear from our perspective.

The tinkling sounds that begin during the totality phase of the composition represent the stars that you might be able to see as the sky goes dark as the sun disappears."

Public Transport: Try Before You Ride

Source: BCA and Transport Accessibility, Public Transport Victoria
Transport Accessibility is offering a chance to speak with public transport staff and try out trains, trams, buses, coaches and taxis, meeting at Box Hill.
When: Wednesday 11th October 2017 from 10am to 2pm
Where: Box Hill Interchange, corner Whitehorse Road and Box Hill Central
To register your interest, email or call 1800 800 007

2017 Australian Goalball Championships

The 2017 Australian Goalball Championships will be hosted by the Victorian Goalball Association during the upcoming school holidays and champions Callum, Caleb and Thien will be defending their Junior title.
When: 4 to 7 October 2017
Where: Collingwood College, Cromwell Street Collingwood
Further information:

Vision Impaired Cricket Schools Program

From Rod Pritchard, President, Victorian Blind Cricket Association
When: Friday 22 September
Where: Rear of Vision Australia, 454 Glenferrie Road Kooyong
This programme provides an introduction to vision impaired cricket and is open to all primary and secondary age students both male and female. It provides a unique opportunity for students to learn a range of skills including orientation and mobility and working within a team environment as well as being able to socialize with their vision impaired peers. It also provides an important opportunity for parents and carers to network and exchange experiences in a supported environment.
For further information please contact Rod: 0401 718 926 /

Scholarship Opportunity

Are you interested in a career as an orientation and mobility specialist with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT?

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is offering sponsorships to complete the Master of Disability Studies with a specialisation in Sensory Disability, as the first step to employment as an orientation and mobility specialist with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. The sponsorship covers all course fees.

Selected candidates for sponsorship must successfully complete the first semester (full-time) of the Master Degree program and other employment criteria, leading to an offer of full-time employment as an orientation and mobility specialist from July 2018. Subsequent semesters of the Master program will be completed part-time by distance education/block release and/or online while employed full-time at Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

For more information visit: is external)

Before submitting your application for sponsorship, first contact Claire Farrington at RIDBC on (02) 9872 0811 or sends e-mail) to ensure you meet entry requirements to study this course.

Sponsorship applications close: 2nd October 2017

Dialogue in the Dark Opportunities for Teachers and Students

The Department of Education is offering 1000 complimentary tickets to teachers to attend DiD. This offer is only open until February 2018, so if you haven’t been, contact SVRC for details. If you also do a short online learning package from SVRC, we will provide you with a certificate as evidence for your VIT registration Special Needs learning.

Tutorial: Windows 10 Magnifier

From: Glen Morrow

Magnifier is a part of the Windows 10 Ease of Access group of features that are designed to make Windows easier to access for everyone.
Magnifier has come a long way over the years and the latest implementation in Windows 10 has some very useful features.

Let’s take a look.

Starting Magnifier
There are several ways of starting Magnifier in Windows 10.

Start Via the Start menu:
  1. Press the WINDOWS key to open the Start menu
  2. Type Magnifier and press ENTER
Start Via Keyboard Shortcut:
Start Via the Ease of Access Dialogue Box:
  1. Press WINDOWS+U
  2. On the left hand side of the Ease of Access dialogue box, choose Magnifier
  3. On the right hand side - choose ‘On’ for Magnifier
  4. You also have other options here for Invert Colours, Tracking and whether the Magnifier starts at login.
  5. Once finished, press ALT+F4 or click on the X in the top right corner to close this dialogue box.
Magnifier Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Use WINDOWS+PLUS to enable the Magnifier
  • WINDOWS+PLUS and WINDOWS+MINUS will increase and decrease magnification respectively
  • WINDOWS+ESCAPE closes the Magnifier
  • CTRL+ALT+I Inverts the colours
  • CTRL+ALT+F makes magnification full screen
  • CTRL+ALT+L gives you a lens
If you like inverted colours without any magnification - then just do the following:
  1. Press WINDOWS+PLUS to turn on the Magnifier
  2. Press WINDOWS+MINUS to reduce the zoom level so there is no magnification.
  3. Press CTRL+ALT+I to turn Invert Colours on.
  4. Then all you need to do from here is press WINDOWS+PLUS to turn on invert colours and WINDOWS+ESCAPE to turn it off. What you are actually doing is turning the Magnifier on and off.

To adjust the Magnifier’s settings:
  1. Click on the Gear icon on the Magnifier’s control panel
  2. Select the settings you want.
  3. Click on the X or Done to close the dialogue box.
The Magnifier is a very power utility that can really help to make Windows more user friendly without having to install third party software.

Monash Research Exploring the Education of Children with Disabilities in Victoria

Are you a principal, teacher or specialist educator with experiencing providing an education to students with disabilities? Or are you a parent of a child with a disability?

Monash University researcher, Dr Claire Spivakovsky, is currently investigating how children with a disability are educated in the Victorian school system; she is looking at the kinds of supports children with disabilities receive in the education system as well as the kinds of issues or barriers which could be better addressed.

Claire is interested in speaking to principals, teachers, specialist educators (e.g. visiting teachers) and parents of children with a disability about her research. She is particularly interested in interviewing these stakeholders about their experiences regarding the education of children with disabilities in the Victorian education system to date. Please be aware that Claire’s research is being conducted independently from any school and the Victorian Department of Education and Training, and that any reports and recommendations arising from this project will not contain identifying information of any person who agrees to be interviewed by Claire. This research has approval from the Department of Education and Training (Approval number: 2017_003292), and any person interested in participating can read the conditions of this approval on contacting Claire if they wish.

If you are interested in speaking to Claire about your experiences, or if you would like more information about Claire’s project, please contact her directly via the following email address:

Student News: Interview with Jaryd Clifford

Little Athletics Victoria has recently uploaded an interview with Jaryd who was recently named Junior Sportsperson of the Year at the Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation Awards.

To listen to the interview or read the transcript, visit:

Guided Running for Budding Athletes who have a Vision Impairment

From Marion Blazé

There is a group operating in Melbourne supported by Blind Sports Australia and Recreation Victoria that encourage people (16 years and over) to join their running group. They have volunteer guide runners, and can even help you participate in running events. Fancy a marathon?? Have a look at the Achilles Australia website

When I contacted this group to find out about age groups participating (thinking of our school-aged students), they suggested that "if any younger children are keen to get involved, we are happy to organise a guide training session with their local Little Athletics club so they can be included there. We can also potentially partner with Blind Sports and Rec to hold a guiding clinic if any younger students with vision impairment/blindness want to be more involved with running/sports in their school environment. I'd just hate for a young person to find running boring and disengage, but if there are ways to integrate with peers or existing programs, we are 100% behind this." So why not join your local Little Athletics club and get some assistance from the Achilles group to train guides to run with you? Just contact

Student News: "Star" Wars Constructor

From Ange Alexandrou, VT NEVR

A "Star" builder has just been discovered! Our very own "Lego Model Builder......."
Jason (Year 10) is a 16 years old student who is very excited to share his completed Lego piece titled "Star Wars – Death Star!" Jason feels very proud of himself and we all admire his amazing building skills. The masterpiece took Jason about 3 weeks to complete, is made up of 4016 pieces. It is over 41cm high and 42 cm wide.

This fantastic model has a galaxy of intricate and authentic environments, including a super laser control room, Imperial conference chamber, hangar bay with moving launch rack and Lord Vader’s TIE Advanced with space for Vader inside, Emperor Palpatine’s throne room, Droid maintenance room, detention block, trash compactor, tractor beam, cargo area, turbo laser with spring-loaded shooters and seats for the 2 Death Star Gunners, and 2 movable turbo laser towers. This fantastic set also includes 23 iconic mini figures and 2 Droids to ensure hours of Star Wars battle fun.

Jason is keenly onto his next project, having recently purchased the Lego "Disney Castle" model number 71040, recommended for ages 16+ and we can't wait to see the next photos. Amazing effort Jason, what a brilliant achievement!
Photos show the Death Star from three angles plus a detail of C-3PO (top photo).

Victor Reader – Tutorial 8

There are now 8 tutorials in the Victor Reader series. In tutorial 8, Garry looks at the "notes" feature. The video is online now:

Video Tutorial: Magnifier in iOS 10

Glen has recently made a short video tutorial all about the iOS Magnifier – how it works, what it does and how to activate it.

Free Text-to-Speech: Balabolka


Balabolka is a Text-To-Speech (TTS) program. All computer voices installed on your system are available to Balabolka. The on-screen text can be saved as a WAV, MP3, MP4, OGG or WMA file. The program can read the clipboard content, view text from documents, customize font and background colour, control reading from the system tray or by the global hotkeys. Supported file formats: AZW, AZW3, CHM, DjVu, DOC, DOCX, EPUB, FB2, HTML, LIT, MOBI, ODT, PDB, PRC, PDF, RTF, TCR, WPD.
Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10

Tactile Bananagrams

Bananagrams is a bewt game for 2 to 6 people based on the 144 Scrabble-style letters.
One of the VTs has brailled the letters on her set of Bananagram tiles. The top right corner of the braille label is cut off for letter orientation. The game is then played with braille readers AND sighted classmates on a non-slip mat to keep the letters from moving around. Whilst the rules suggest that players make words that connect and intersect in a Crossword-style manner, simple rules can be established for younger players.
Fast (or slow)! And fun!

Links with Publishers

We recently met two fantastic staff members from Pearson Australia here at the SVRC. Pearson publish a large number of primary reading titles and text books used by students including Maths, Science, Chemistry, Food & Tech, LOTE and VET subjects.

Robyn and Marg, who are involved with Pearson's Rights and Permissions, trekked out to Donvale from their headquarters in the city to see what we do with their files! We showed them the editing process from pdf to braille and the way we are able to represent the diagrams. Both appeared amazed at the amount of time and skill involved in producing accessible documents for students who are braille readers.

Both Robyn and Marg are passionate about learning materials being made accessible for student use and we thank them for their speed and willingness to supply us with files. We also look forward to a continued close working relationship with Pearson Australia.

Goodbye to the Play Equipment

Yes, this is the last game of monkey-bar chasey that Support Skills students will ever have the chance to play! Because the play equipment has vanished. In its place is a wire mesh fence and a pile of crumpled metal.
We hope that Heatherwood will install some more play equipment for students during the Support Skills break-time!

Finally: Elephant Stamps for Early 2018 Resource Requesters

Some of our VTs are getting in early with their requests for materials in alternative formats for 2018. Notable early requesters, Lisa, Rory and Tracey, take out this fortnight's EARLY REQUESTER ELEPHANT STAMP!!!
Deb Lewis (Ed)
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