Welcome to issue 16 of the SVRC's fortnightly newsletter - The Bulletin.

Inside This Issue

Here's what you'll find:
  • From SVRC: Ozzie Dots – Next Steps, VCE Special Arrangements, Annual Writing Competition, Try Day, Bluetooth Beacons at SVRC, Diary Dates, Braille By Correspondence
  • PD: Are Your Students Using Monoculars, Webinar – Talking Books, Guide to Braille Resources
  • Sport and Activities: Blind Cricket Schools Program, Sculpture Trail – Sydney, Milo Cricket, Space Camp, Camp Mittigundi
  • Technology: VA Bursary, iOS11, Google in the Classroom
  • From the Field: Rotary Scholarships, Inclusive Education – Radio National, A Cane Called Wanda (Kate Barrett's Story).
Check The Bulletin archive for back issues!

Dates for your Diary

Here's what's coming up:
  • Support Skills Try Day: 17 November
  • SVRC Annual Writing Competition Closing Date: 7 November
  • SVRC Expo: 28 November – Check out the navigation beacons at SVRC – see below
  • SVRC Christmas Morning Tea: 6 December
See the SVRC website for more information and online registration.

Ozzie Dots – Next Steps

SVRC's "Ozzie Dots" was launched in 2013 and includes 255 illustrated books (including audio files of the books) that support the teaching and learning of contracted braille. Ozzie Dots has been used by teachers in all Australian states and territories along with USA, Canada, Fiji, New Zealand and UK. We are looking to continuing to develop Ozzie Dots as a way to support the teaching of contracted braille to braille readers.

We are holding a meeting next Wednesday 18th October at 2.30pm at the SVRC to discuss how we can add to Ozzie Dots.

Topics for discussion will include:
  1. How are Ozzie Dots books being used? students/ages/levels of vision etc?
  2. Are there gaps in Ozzie Dots that could be filled? Are there books/topics/exercises/worksheets/other that you wish were there to support your teaching?
  3. Are there other resources that could be developed to support your teaching of braille?
  4. How would we prioritise this future production? Where should we start?
  5. Any other feedback?
If you would like to be involved in this discussion, please RSVP and/or send your thoughts/responses to the discussion topics above.
More information about Ozzie Dots can be found:

Students with Vision Impairments Entering VCE

Lee Clarke is back on deck at SVRC and awaiting your calls regarding VCE students. Please contact Lee if you would like to arrange a VCE meeting at your student’s school to look at all the possibilities for Special Provision available to students with vision impairments. VCE Special Provision can be quite complex for schools to navigate, so knowing the possibilities early can maximise the chances of a smooth VCE experience. Some Special Provision options are unique to students with vision impairments so may not appear in the Handbook!

Call Lee on 9841 0242 or better still (because she’s 0.5 with us), email her on

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!!
Closing date: 7 November 2017

Please submit your entries, including include your NAME, YEAR LEVEL, SCHOOL, Visiting Teacher name and contact email or telephone number, to:
Marion Blazé – SVRC PO Box 201, Nunawading, 3131 or

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 fill in the online form to register for the Try Day. (the form is under Educational Programs -> Support Skills).

Closing date: Monday November 13 2017

For further information, please contact Garry Stinchcombe, Support Skills Program Coordinator on (03) 9841 0242 or email:

Are Your Students Using Monoculars

From Marion Blazé

A colleague came back from a seminar over the holidays commenting on how a participant at the seminar, who had low vision, used a monocular to read the PowerPoint presentations. She was able to independently, discreetly and efficiently access this visual information. In these days of mostly high tech solutions, it made me wonder how many of our students still have this useful visual skill, so I did some homework to put together some resources.

A monocular (or miniscope) is a single telescope, which can be used to magnify things that are beyond arm’s-length. In the classroom, they are great for viewing the whiteboard or demonstrations, but they are also useful for mobility: reading a bus number, overhead timetable, McDonald’s menu, street sign or scoreboard. Being an optical device, they should be prescribed by a low vision specialist such as an optometrist, to ensure they are optically correct for the eyes (and perhaps glasses) of the user.

The following is a question and answer article from "Future Reflections", a publication from the Kentucky National Federation for the Blind. A parent commented that her twelve-year-old son was reluctant to use a monocular when at school and asked what could be done to encourage him. Here is the response:

Reluctance to use a monocular may be due to a variety of factors. Consider some of these questions:
  • Does it make a significant difference in vision?
  • Is there a social issue?
  • Is it difficult to use?
  • Is the task interesting or motivating?
  • Is the child aware that other people use monoculars and binoculars for a variety of recreation and career activities?
Be sure the monocular improves vision enough to make a significant difference. If just moving a few feet closer can provide the same amount of improvement, most children will just want to move toward the activity. The monocular restricts the field of view and some kids don’t want to miss out on other visual interests.

Be aware that the type of visual condition may affect the benefit of the monocular. Central vision loss may make using it more difficult.
Be sure the child has had appropriate instructions in how to spot, focus, scan, and track using the device.

Prove the difference. Have the child use unaided vision for a task and then try the same task using the monocular. Let him prove to himself just what it can do and the differences in detail that can be observed.

Model it. Use binoculars and a monocular with your child. Create an environment where classmates and playmates use the same or similar devices for fun activities. Have toy binoculars available near the window or door for preschoolers and younger children.
Provide evidence that other people use vision devices for recreation and in their careers. Keep a scrapbook of pictures of vision devices being used and discuss them. Highlight pictures of surgeons, jewelers, and people at sporting events such as the racetrack, football games, and baseball games using vision devices. Look in advertisements for pictures of the monoculars used by golfers, and binoculars used by bird watchers.

Take the monocular and binoculars on family outings and trips. Use it with your child, have other family members use it, too. Keep a journal of time that it is used. Use stickers on a chart or other rewards to show just how many occasions you have used it.
Attend activities where other children are using monoculars. Find an older child who is a successful monocular user to act as a mentor and describe how useful it is in mobility.
Have realistic expectations. Remember that the monocular is just one device used to increase distant vision acuity for short tasks. It is difficult to watch a movie using a monocular, try it! Although the monocular may not be an equalizer for all demands on distant vision, it is portable, relatively inexpensive, and doesn’t require batteries.

For more information, visit:

Rotary Scholarships for Year 12 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island Students

Applications for the 2018 Rotary scholarships are now open for Aboriginal and Torres strait Island students. The scholarship is worth up to $25,000 per year over four years and is awarded to those for whom it will make the greatest life-changing experience. The Rotary Club of Balwyn will select the Scholarship winner(s) on the recommendation of the Advisory Board. Their recommendation will be based on this written application and an interview (of short-listed applicants) to be carried out in Melbourne, early in 2018.

Applications close: 24 November 2017

For more information visit:

Free Webinar: Listening to a Talking Book

Source: HumanWare

Ever wished you could move around the book, chapter by chapter, page by page more easily? With the Victor Reader range, all of those dreams have now become reality. Join Blake Ison, blindness product specialist, as he shows you just how easy it is to:
  • Navigate a talking book, university/school textbook, or any book of your choosing.
  • Record notes such as shopping lists, phone numbers, and birthdays.
  • Play a CD with easy navigation.
  • Listen to world-wide radio stations, podcasts, and much more.

When: October 17th / 4 PM Australian Eastern Daylight time

Register Here.

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

Vision Australia Further Education Bursary Program for 2018 is Open


Sculpture Trail in Sydney

Source: Virgin Australia, October 2017

The Bondi Beach to Tamarama costal walk is popular at all times of the year, but the trail looks its best when Sculpture by the Sea comes to town. The largest free alfresco sculpture exhibition in the world, it sees a roster of artists create more than 100 sculptures to dot the two-kilometre trail. This year visitors can also look forward to artist talks, tactile tours for people with vision impairments. It runs from 19 October to 5 November.

Visit: for more information.

Blind Cricket School's Program 2017

Report from Garry Stinchcombe and Emily White

On the last day of term, 13 students attended the annual Blind Cricket Schools Program run by the Victorian Blind Cricket Association at their grounds at the rear of Vision Australia in Kooyong. While Dan and Ned conducted the cricket clinics, Rod the VBCA President and Sandra attended to the off field organisational tasks while chatting to families and visitors.

After an initial meet and greet and some general throwing practice, the students were divided into two groups. This worked well as we had seven Primary aged students and 6 senior students. They were then given the opportunity to practice their batting, bowling and fielding. Some of the activities used in Milo Cricket were adopted for the younger group with the length of the pitch being adjusted to match the skill set of each student.

It was great to see two young ladies attend the program. One of the older students came with a friend who now knows how Blind Cricket is played and will be able to assist his friend with developing his Blind Cricket skills. I’m sure we will see some of these students playing in the Saturday competition and possibly representing Victoria and Australia in the not too distant future!

Just prior to lunch Darren Moyle from Guide Dogs Victoria took the older students on a quick exploration of the local Public Transport. They visited the nearby Kooyong train Station and tram stops. Rod took the younger students on a tour of the score box. This is also where the weekly radio program is hosted each Saturday night at 6pm through 3RPH during the cricket season.

After a great BBQ lunch and lots of chatting. Students took away a show bag of information and a blind cricket ball plus a bank of positive cricketing experiences!
Students were encouraged to attend the Saturday morning Cricket Clinic to further develop their skills and understanding of the game. Students interested in following this up should contact Rod Pritchard on 0401 718 926 or go to the VBCA website for more information:

We would like to thank The VBCA for hosting the day. In particular we’d like to acknowledge the work of Dan and Ned for running the various activities. Also Rod and Sandra for making the day such a pleasant experience for all the families and staff who attended.

Milo Cricket

Source: Rod Pritchard, President, Victorian Blind Cricket Association

The 2017-18 cricket season has now arrived and blind cricket is once again back and in full swing. The senior season commenced last Saturday and the junior season of Milo Cricket will commence on Saturday, 14th October and run each week through to March from 10:30am to 12:00 noon only pausing for the summer school holidays.
During the off-season the Victorian Blind Cricket Association completed full integrated into Cricket Australia’s MyCricket platform with all player registration being administered through the Play Cricket application.

The cost for Milo Cricket for the entire season from October 2017 through to March 2018 is $75.00 per participant with discounts available for siblings. All registered participants will receive the Milo Cricket back pack which is packed full of goodies including:

  • Plastic bat and soft ball
  • Blind Cricket ball
  • ASICS t-shirt
  • Bucket hat
  • Water bottle
  • Milo sachet
  • Back pack
To register for the 2017-18 Vision Impaired Milo Cricket Season simply go to the Play Cricket Web Site by following the below URL and completing the online registration and payment forms.,2,4,8,16

For further information please contact our secretary, Nick Pepper. on or our President, Rod Pritchard, on 0401 718 926.

Kitty Barry - Her Story So Far

Kate is a former student of the SVRC Support Skills Program. She is now a mum to twin girls and has written a book for children. Her story is uplifiting, raw and honest. You can hear her journey on the latest episode of Glen Morrow's Stories of You Podcast. A link to the podcast is available via iTunes/Apple Podcasts: and via the web at

The story is 'A Cane Called Wanda' - because that's what she calls her white cane!

It's New: iOS11

There are some cool new features in iOS including:
  • OCR with VoiceOVer and the Camera app
  • Markup of PDF files
  • New Files app
  • Larger Text / Dynamic Type
  • Smart Invert
  • Photo Descriptions with VoiceOver
Ed: Markup of PDF files is my personal favourite – signing digital documents and emailing back – this might be a great solution for students with low vision answering questions in workbooks on their iPad!!! Watch this space – more information to follow.

Space Camp 2018 and Expression of interest for Chaperones

Space Camp Dates: September 29 to October 4 (departure October 5), 2018.

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.

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.

Camp Mittigundi – 2018

Camp Mittigundi offer 10-day programs (for up to 24 young people aged 14-17 years), Winter programs (for larger groups) and follow-up programs for students, including students with vision impairments.

The 10-day programs see groups of up to 24 young people, accompanied by two clydesdale horses, walk away from electricity and modern comforts, through the Victorian High Country and into the 400acre pioneer style property, that is Mittagundi. They spend time working together on the farm, fencing, growing food, milking cows, working with wood, steel and wool. Then embark on adventures rafting the Mitta Mitta River and abseiling off a local cliff face before walking back through the mountains and returning to civilisation.

The atmosphere at Mittagundi is simple, honest and happy. There are no watches, no timetables and no money. Instead there is an opportunity for young people to live and work together with others in an environment where people matter more than anything else.

The cost for 10-day programs is $480 pp with sponsorship available.

Guide to Braille Resources


Here's a comprehensive guide with resources for teachers, parents and users of braille. This is probably one of those websites to bookmark if you have any involvement with braille readers. There are links to (mostly) US websites with lots of useful resources.
For example, there's a link to games and worksheets, useful for teachers who would like to teach sighted children the basics of braille:

Google in the Classroom: Chromebooks and G Suite Apps

"For blind students the proliferation of technology in today's classrooms can be a blessing or a curse, or a bit of both at once. Fortunately the National Federation of the Blind has developed a partnership with Google to ensure that the company's increasingly popular hardware and software will not pose barriers for blind students. In this article Amy Mason provides a detailed description of the Chromebook and G Suite, explaining their accessible features and the areas that are not yet fully accessible. Amy is an access technology specialist with the National Federation of the Blind."

Inclusive Education: Radio National

Radio National recently featured "Improving Mainstream Education for Children with a Disability" on their Life Matters program.

Dr Shiralee Poed is a senior lecturer at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education who is an expert in special education and whose recent research has been examining the reasons why some families resort to court action. Loren Swancutt is head of special education at Thuringowa High School in Townsville and she shares her experiences of integrating children into the mainstream. Gina Wilson-Burns describes what it has been like for her son Mac, who has cerebral palsy and vision impairment, to move through primary and now high school.


SVRC Braille By Correspondence Course

Jo Perry of Penders Grove PS recently completed the SVRC Braille Course by Correspondence. She successfully passed the assessment on her first attempt – making her this week's recipient of the SVRC Elephant Stamp! Congratulations Jo!


An eleven-week term will keep us all on our toes!!! All the best everyone – and hope to see you all at the Christmas Morning Tea!!!
Deb Lewis (Ed)
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