Hello Bulletin subscriber,

Welcome to issue 12 of our fortnightly newsletter, The Bulletin!

Inside This Issue

Here's what you'll find:

  • From SVRC: Dates for your Diary, Circus Day Report
  • Feature Article: Talking to Children About Vision Loss
  • Technology: Inclusive education equipment boost for schools Q&A, Music Zoom + Air Turn + iPad, VoiceOver Basics for iPad Users Handout, VA Bursary Open
  • PD: SVRC Low Vision PD Day, VoiceOver Basics for iPad Users
  • O&M: Bendigo Senior Mobility Camp (GDV)
  • Student News: Kelly Sullivan's Space Camp Fundraiser
Check updated The Bulletin archive for back issues!

Dates for Your Diary – 2018

Here is a list of our planned PD and other activities:

VoiceOver Basics for iPad: online course running on Wednesdays from 2.30 to 3.30pm during August – register here for VoiceOver Basics
Educational Support for Students who have Low Vision: Tuesday 14 August – register here for the Low Vision Day
Calculators for Senior Students Workshop: 21 August – BOOK NOW!
VoiceOver for macOS: online course running on Wednesdays from 2.30 to 3.30pm during September (5, 12 and 19 September). Registration available soon.
Dot Power: 11 September (new date for Year 1 to 3s)
[Space Camp: September-October in USA]

Term 4
Dot Power: 30 October (for pre-school and Foundation/Prep)
Dot Power: 13 November (new date for Year 1 to 3s)
Support Skills Try Day: Friday 16 November
Technology Expo: Tuesday 27 November
Christmas Morning Tea: Wednesday 5 December – no need to register – just come at 11am!

Programs and registration are available on the SVRC website! Online payment is also available!

If you can't find the PD you need, please contact Lea Nagel or Marion Blazé to request a session.

Equipment Boost for Schools

Applications for blind and low vision technology are open for one short window of time and close on17 August 2018.

For more information and to download the guidance for schools, go to

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Matt Trotter, Transition Manager, Statewide Vision Resource Centre:

If you’d like any additional support with this program, please email:

Equipment Boost Q&As

With the applications for this funding closing on August 17, we thought we’d share a few questions we’ve been asked (and their answers!) in case they are of assistance to others.

Q: The ES for my student needs a Perkins brailler (or laptop with Duxbury) for production. Do I just borrow this from SVRC?
A: No. Please apply for it as part of the Equipment Boost. (Yes, you can borrow it, but we won’t have enough if people don’t apply for what is required by students and ES staff.)

Q: Can we have an extension of the date (August 17) to get our applications in?
A: No (sorry), the timeline for getting the technology before the end of December is going to be so very tight, that we can’t start the process any later than August 17.

Q: Do I need to get a quotation from the supplier for every piece of equipment I apply for?
A: Yes and no. But don’t stress!! You can use the quotes that are in the equipment list on the SVRC website, quotes don’t need to be individualised, and they can be as simple as a screenshot of an online supplier list or online shopping cart.

Q: For what can schools use the ‘Inclusion Boost’ ($4,800) and ‘Equipment Boost’ ($5,000) funding that they already have in the SRP (Student Resource Package)?
A: The ‘Inclusion Boost’ funding is to assist schools to review and refresh their policies and practices around inclusion.

The ‘Equipment Boost’ is for items not provided through the SVRC Blind and Low Vision Technology Library.

Schools have autonomy regarding how this funding is spent (but you can make suggestions!).

Q: Will there be an ‘Equipment Grant’ round in February 2019?
A: We don’t know, so don’t depend on this happening.

Q: I know of a child in a special school who has not been through EVAC but is thought to have a vision impairment. Can I apply through the Blind and Low Vision Technology Library stream of the Inclusive Education Equipment Boost for equipment for this child?
A: No, but with other disabilities, the school can apply through the ‘Specialised Stream’ of the Inclusive Education Equipment Boost.

Calculator Workshop for Staff & Parents of Students with Vision Impairment

Presenter: Charlie Roberts
Tuesday 21st August, 2018
Statewide Vision Resource Centre

Please bring a laptop and an iPad if you have one.

Come to one or both sessions. Register online at

9.30-10.45am Introduction to Wolfram Mathematica, approved VCE calculator software:
  • Available on Edustar: PC/MAC/iPad
  • Free form linguistic input (internet connection needed)
  • Accessibility
  • Wolfram language
11.30am-1.00pm Accessible calculator options for Primary & Secondary students:
  • Cranmar Abacus
  • Talking & Large Print calculators
  • Standard & Scientific IOS options
  • GT Calc
  • Viewplus Audio Graphing Calculator
  • TI CAS Nspire simulator emulator software
  • Casio CAS classpad manager emulator software
  • Desmos 4 function & graphing calculators
  • EquatIO : Math writing software with Desmos graphing function
  • TI 84 Plus talking graphics calculator
  • BrailleNote calculator and BrailleNote Touch graphing function
Cost free and morning tea will be provided.
Lunch will be BYO.

Talking to Children About Vision Loss

If parents, guardians and Visiting Teachers are looking for excellent advice regarding how to talk to children about losing their sight, the Royal National Institute of BlindPeople (RNIB) in the United Kingdom have produced an article addressing this issue. The article is called: Tough talks: Talking to children about sight loss. The article is available from the RNIB website and the direct link is:

The following has some quotes from this very intelligent and useful article:
“When will it get better?” Parents tell us that the one of the most difficult and distressing parts of finding out that their child has a vision impairment (VI), is knowing how to talk about it with their child.

There is no rule book, or gold standard about how to address these difficult issues with a child or young person.

As a parent you are the expert in your own child. You know their personality, their strengths and weaknesses and the events and experiences that have made them who they are today. You know how they approach the world, how they handle change, things they love doing, things they find difficult, what motivates them and what brings them down. All of these factors are completely unique, and will form the basis of how it might be best to talk to them about sight loss.

There is no right or wrong time. You may choose to take some time to process the news of your child’s diagnosis before you start talking to them about it. You may prefer to share the information straight away together. The age of your child, their developmental level, your own response to the news and the immediate impact of the diagnosis will all affect when it feels right to have conversations.

Talking to your child about losing their vision could understandably be painful and difficult. It is natural to want to protect your child.

Try to be as honest as you can. An open and honest relationship between you and your child will help you all as you all face the impact of sight loss. It may be difficult in the future if you have to undo promises or inaccurate information.

“Will I go blind?” This might be one of the hardest questions your child asks.
There is good advice in the article about assisting siblings of the child losing their vision as well.

The RNIB website is:

Geoff Bowen
Psychologist, SVRC

Music Zoom + Air Turn + iPad

From Lea Nagel

For students with low vision who might enjoy playing a musical instrument, this combination would provide a way to enlarge music notation on the iPad.

Music Zoom App: Add a piece of music using the iPad camera or from the iPad Photo Library. Manually mark up the music by selecting each line of music using 2 fingers on the iPad screen. The piece will appear one line at a time. Scroll through the piece using the forward or back button or space bar, or auto scroll. Simple menus allow changes to zoom, contrast, saturation, brightness, sharpness, invert colours, tint, scroll distance and speed. You can add text and highlights.

Air Turn pedal (shown to the left of the photo):Connect with Bluetooth to activate the scroll buttons. Combined with a music stand and perhaps a non-slip mat, your student with low vision can join and keep up with the band!

VoiceOver Basics for iPad Users

SVRC is running a new online course designed to help you learn the basics of using VoiceOver with your iPad. Handouts will be sent to participants – a section from Week 1's handout is included below.

When: Wednesday afternoons, 2:30-3:30

The course is free and delivered online via Adobe Connect (when you register, we will email you instructions on how to connect).

Attend all or some of the remaining sessions to learn more about VoiceOver on the iPad. Glen Morrow will walk you through techniques to use and teach the device successfully using the inbuilt screen reader.

Week 2 (August 8): Using Mail, Notes, Reminders, the Calender and Online Storage

Week 3 (August 15): Browsing The Web with Safari

Week 4 (August 22): Writing and Editing Documents with Pages and Notes

Week 5 (August 29): Advanced VoiceOver Skills – Modifying Pronunciation, the Rotor, Advanced Editing VoiceOver Basics for iPad Users

It's all free and registrations are open now:

VoiceOver Basics for iOS

Written by: Glen Morrow, August, 2018

VoiceOver is the inbuilt screenreader that comes with any Apple iOS device - iPads, iPhones, iPod Touches. VoiceOver is also available on the Apple Watch, Apple TV and on Apple desktop and laptop computers running macOS or OS X.
The screen reader allows a user to access, navigate and operate their device or computer purely by using speech. It is aimed at users who are blind or who have a vision impairment but it’s use may benefit other users as well.

VoiceOver can be used to navigate to an app, read and write messages or emails, read a webpage, review a task list, add items to a calendar, read a book, check the weather, use GPS for origination and mobility and many other tasks that a sighted person might use their device or computer for.

When you turn VoiceOver on, the way you need to use specific gestures and techniques to navigate around your device.

Turning VoiceOver On and Off

To start VoiceOver:
  1. Go to the Settings app
  2. Tap on General
  3. Tap Accessibility
  4. Tap VoiceOver
  5. Tap the VoiceOver On / Off toggle button to turn VoiceOver on.
NOTE: You can use the above steps to also turn VoiceOver off as the button is a toggle.
Using the Accessibility Shortcut to turn VoiceOver On and Off

The Accessibility Shortcut is an iOS feature where a user can ‘Triple Click’ (press 3 times quickly) the Home button to turn on or off accessibility features.

You can use this shortcut to turn on and off multiple accessibility features - the steps below walk you through this process.
  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap on General
  3. Tap Accessibility
  4. Scroll all the way to the bottom and tap on Accessibility Shortcut
  5. Tap on the item(s) you want the shortcut to switch on and off.
  6. Once you have finished, just tap the Back (< Accessibility) button in the top left corner of the screen to return to the previous menu. There is no ‘Save’ or ‘Done’ option.
NOTE: If you choose only one item in this list, triple pressing the Home button just turns that feature on and off. If you have more than one item selected, triple pressing the Home button displays a dialogue box asking which features you wish to turn on or off.

NOTE: If you have an iPhone X where there is no Home button, you use the Side Button on the right side of the phone for the Accessibility Shortcuts.

Circus Day – Report

What can I say? It was a circus!!! And in a good way with students coming in from as far afield as Kinglake, Geelong and Shepparton. This activity was inclusive of siblings, who were invited to the workshop and the whole family were able to join us at the performance!

The Circus Oz training space in Collingwood proved an exciting venue for the workshop with extremely high ceilings, tumbling mats underfoot and exciting equipment hanging from the trusses and scattered about. Following a very silly warm-up from our three trainers, Sal, Rockie and Ollie, the three groups rotated between three physical activities. The physical activities were selected from a number that were later performed in the show and included:
  • Trapeze
  • Foot juggling
  • Hand-stands and tumbling
  • Balances (see photo)
We also had the chance to look at the Chinese pole (see photo) and tissu, two pieces of equipment that performers can use to do tricks and which featured in the show.
The trainers, were excellent, offering sighted guide as required, describing equipment clearly and providing instructions that were easy to understand for the students.
Getting from Circus Oz training space to the performance venue at the Royal Botanic Gardens offered some of the older students the opportunity to problem-solve and practice their O&M skills.

Upon arrival at the little tent (just an intimate show this time), students and families were offered a tactile tour to orient them to the stage, costumes and equipment. The show, Precarious, was a hoot and the audio description was well-received by students and adults.

The organisation of this event involved many partner organisations. Special thanks to:
Circus Oz: Annie Stephens, Mel Fyfe and our trainers Sal, Rockie and Ollie
Description Victoria: Will McRostie (not only for his audio description but also for his efforts liaising between the groups to bring a fun idea to reality)

Guide Dogs Victoria: Clare O'Sullivan (for leading an orientation workshop prior to the students arriving)

SVRC: Garry Stinchcombe, Emma Hall, Deb Lewis
Volunteer: Laura Zarb

And it appears that there is a lot of interest for another circus workshop and performance in the future! So you, too, may be able to run away to the circus.

Bendigo Senior Mobility Camp Program

Source: Alicia San Martin, Guide Dogs Victoria
When: Monday 24-27 September 2018

Building independence is a vital part of growing up. On this senior camp, secondary school aged students will have the opportunity to participate in a range of fun activities in Bendigo that will build their experience and skills to increase their ability to travel and complete activities of daily living with greater independence. Students will catch Vlinetrains to travel between Southern Cross Station and Bendigo Train Station and use a range of public transport to travel around the Bendigo region to activities planned by the students.

This program will look at the following mobility skills:
  • Using technology to plan travel
  • Public transport use
  • Road crossings strategies when travelling in residential and central business districts
  • Thinking and problems solving skills when travelling in new and challenging environments
  • Managing personal safety in new and dynamic environments
Students will be asked to research activities, travel and dining options throughout the program.

Staffing: Orientation & Mobility Specialists from CMS will staff this program. An Occupational Therapist will also be available at certain times throughout the program.
Costs: This program has been made possible due to the contributions of the Shine On Foundation. The program will be delivered at no direct cost to clients, but where possible we will access fee for service funding (NDIS) to support the program and Guide Dogs Victoria will cover all additional costs. Students will require a travel pass or Myki card with $50 credit for travel during the program (please discuss this with us if needed)
NDIS: For students with an NDIS plan the estimated cost is $1350. NDIS funding covers the service delivery of O&M and OT skills during the program and does not cover meals, accommodation or overnight costs (covered by Guide Dogs Victoria).

Feedback: A brief report will be provided to families regarding the program outcomes and student achievement. Families will also be invited to provide feedback via an anonymous survey. 

Further Information: This four day program will begin Monday 24 of September 2018 at 9.30am at Southern Cross Station and conclude on Thursday 27 September at 4.30pm at Southern Cross Station. Accommodation will be at Quest Apartments Bendigo. If we have more applications than places available on the closing date, 12 students will be selected. This selection process will take into consideration the number of programs previously attended and the appropriateness of this program to the student’s age and O&M goals.

For an application package please contact Customer Service ASAP on 1800 804 805
***To be considered for this mobility program, completed application packages (all paperwork, including medical forms) must be received by Monday 20 August 2018 ***
Our group program schedule and more information is also available on our website:

And in our quarterly Children’s newsletter GetAbout:


Source: Leona Holloway, ANZAGG Facebook News
Woven e-textiles (electronic textiles) are threads, fibres, yarns, and fabric which have conductive properties with metals such as silver and steel being part of their structure. Emilie Giles from the UK has been investigating how these materials might be used to create interactive artworks. Participants could weave using conductive and non-conductive textiles and then connect their creations to a computer to trigger sound.

A great little video can be found here:

Free Graph Files from Duxbury

Duxbury has a number of free templates on their website from which you can emboss your own braille graph paper. These files are free and include 5x15, 10x15, 10x25, 15x15 etc. Duxbury Braille Translation software required.

How to Add Alternative Text to Facebook Photos

Source: Deborah Edwards-Onoro

Assuming you have logged into Facebook on the desktop, here’s how to add alternative text to your photos.
  1. Select Photo/Video at the top of your News Feed or timeline
  2. Select the photo you want to add
  3. Select Edit Photo (you may need to hover over the photo)
  4. In the photo editing options, select Alt Text
  5. Select Override generated alt text
  6. Add your own descriptive alt text in the box.
    Note: Facebook will warn you when you have gone over 100 characters
  7. Select Save
For more information including screen shots, see the link above.

iPad Apps for Learners with Dyslexia/Reading and Writing Difficulties

The University of Edinburgh has produced the "Wheel of Apps", which provides useful apps within broad topic areas such as Text to Speech, Reading eBooks, Working with PDFs, Scanning, Typing Tutors, Audio Notes and more. Links in the electronic version are "clickable" and will take you to iTunes where you can find more information, download etc.


Premier's Reading Challenge Closing Soon

The Challenge closes on 7 September – there is still time to borrow books in alternative format!

Blind Tennis Come & Try Day

BSRV invite you to attend their Blind Tennis Come & Try Day.
When: Sunday 16 September
Time: 11am - 2pm

Where: National Tennis Centre, Melbourne Park.
This is a wonderful opportunity to support and learn more about blind tennis. You may even like to put on a blindfold and have a go.

For more information or to RSVP:

Fundraiser for Kelly: Star Wars – A New Hope

Kelly Sullivan is holding a fundraising movie night to help with his dream of going to Space Camp (SCIVIS) this year.
When: Saturday 11 August 2018
Time: 6.00pm to 9.30pm

Where Electron Workshop – Coworking Space 31 Arden Street North Melbourne
From the flier: Join us for a night of entertainment as we raise funds for Kelly to attend Space Camp for Visually Impaired Students. We'll be showing Star Wars – A New Hope! Enjoy this great film in comfort, with your choice of a beanbag or deckchair, and feel free to bring a pillow or blanket to really relax and enjoy the show. Doors and the bar will open at 6pm, with film commencing at 7pm. Popcorn, drinks and snacks will be available to be purchased on the night as well as the Electron Workshop Bar for some adult beverages.

For tickets:


August already!!! Happy last month of Winter!
– Deb Lewis (Ed)
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