Hello Bulletin subscriber,

Welcome to issue 19 of our fortnightly newsletter, The Bulletin.

Inside This Issue

Here's what you'll find:
  • From SVRC: Dates for Your Diary – 2019, Equipment Boost for Schools Update, Support Skills News, Writing Competition Winners
  • PD: Braille Music Program for 2019, Interactive Tactile Story Books Workshop, Deafblind International World Conference, CVI Website, Dialogue in the Dark
  • Technology: Perkins Repairers (Updated)
  • Activities & Recreation: Growing Up Disabled in Australia – Call for Submissions, The Hour of Code, Goallball For All, Song Play Workshop (Melbourne Recital Centre), Holiday Gymnastics Clinic, DisRupted Film Casting Call, Borrow Box, Bell Balls from Windmill
Check updated The Bulletin archive for back issues!

Dates for Your Diary – 2019

Here is a list of our planned PD and other activities:
Term 1:
Tuesday February 12 – Education Support for Students who are Blind
Monday February 18 – Introduction to being a Visiting Teacher (Vision)
Tuesday February 26 – Educational support of students who have low vision
Tuesday March 5 – Educational support of students who have low vision
Wednesday March 13 – Including students who are blind or have low vision in physical education
Tuesday March 19 – Educational support of students who are vision impaired with additional impairments

Term 2:
Tuesday April 30 – Braille music (program attached)
Wednesday May 15 – Including students who are blind or have low vision in art
Conference day for Visiting Teachers – yet to be scheduled

Term 3:
Tuesday August 13 – Educational support of students who have low vision

Term 4:
Tuesday October 15 – Preparing your school for inclusion of a student who uses braille
Tuesday November 26 – Assistive Technology Expo

Dialogue in the Dark, Docklands any time
Teachers can book complimentary tickets

Use the links above to find out more and register online.

For the full list of upcoming professional learning here at SVRC – take a look at our professional learning page.

Note: Programs, registration & online payment are available on the SVRC website!

Equipment Boost for Schools – Update 3/12/2018

From Matt Trotter, SVRC Transition Manager

Earlier this year the Department received an unprecedented number of requests from Victorian government schools for technology as part of the 2018 Equipment Boost for Schools Initiative (Blind and Low Vision stream). Additional items for students beginning school or coming onto VT service for the first time in 2019 were put forward by the team at SVRC.

All equipment and technology requests from schools have now been reviewed by an Expert Panel, made up of Visiting Teachers and an SVRC technology specialist. Following the Panel’s review, 1,406 items have been approved to be purchased by SVRC and lent out to schools.

Schools will be contacted in the coming days informing them of the items that they will be able to borrow. Visiting Teachers will be cc’d into these emails. Schools will be provided with a loan agreement, listing each of the items available, which the Principal needs to sign and return to SVRC. Once the loan agreement has been returned AND the listed equipment is in stock, items can be delivered to schools. Delivery will vary from school-to-school, depending on their location and the items they are borrowing. The SVRC Technology Library Coordinator will be in contact directly with VTs and schools to discuss delivery options.

SVRC has brought on board two procurement experts in order to expedite the process of purchasing and delivering items to each school. Despite our best efforts, this process is expected to take some time and some schools may not receive their items until Term 1, 2019. We will do everything we can to ensure items are delivered as quickly as possible.

Thank you in advance for your continued patience.

Growing Up Disabled in Australia: Call for Submissions


A new anthology is open for submissions from all writers in Australia who identify as disabled, deaf, Deaf or chronically ill (under the social model of disability).
The collection will be edited by blogger and appearance activist Carly Findlay, author of the forthcoming memoir Say Hello. Carly has been widely published, including in The Guardian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Life, Mamamia and Frankie.
We are looking for non-fiction pieces that deal with any aspect of growing up chronically ill, deaf, Deaf or disabled. Submissions can be in any manner, tone or style, but should not be academic or scholarly. They should be written in first-person and be honest accounts of lived experience – positive, negative or anything in between.

Editor Carly Findlay says: "I want young disabled people to read this anthology and know what’s possible for them, to see that other disabled people have had similar experiences, and to feel the impact of visibility and positive representation. While I have had a life-long chronic illness, I first identified as chronically ill and disabled when I heard other chronically ill and disabled people’s stories."

Submissions should be between 1000 and 4000 words, and must be received by 5pm on Friday, 31 May 2019. Late entries will not be accepted.

Please email submissions to Submissions will be accepted as Word files or audio files.

Perkins Repairs (updated)

There are currently four repairers available to repair or service your Perkins Brailler.

Perkins Braille Repairs
Tim Weis is a local repairer who is happy to collect from and drop off braillers via the SVRC.
9 Elder Street, Blackburn, 3130
Mob: 0402 571766

Brailler Repairs and Maintenance
Kevin Partridge
PO Box 78, Taralga NSW 2580
Tel: (02) 4840 2389
Mob: 0418 29 8179

Precision Brailler Repair
Ian Newham
PO Box 1120 Ingleburn NSW 1890
Mob: 0425 280 620

Perkins Brailler Repairs
Ken McDonald
1 Amicus Street, Ocean Grove
$180 full service (parts extra)
Mob: 0418 341 388
Tel: (03) 5259 9631

Workshop: Create Interactive Tactile Story Books

Leona Holloway will be co-hosting a workshop on using e-textiles to create interactive tactile story book pages. Co-hosts are Kirsten Ellis (e-textiles expert from Monash University) and Louise Curtin (tactile story books expert from Feelix Library).
It should be a fun day and presenters very much hope that you can join them. Register now as places are limited.

When: Tuesday 22 January 2019
Time: 10am-1pm
Location: MPavilion, Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne
Cost: Free


17th Deafblind International World Conference

Source: VIP-L List

When: 12 - 16 August 2019
Where: Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa at the Gold Coast, Queensland
Conference theme: Sharing the knowledge to ACT: Accessibility. Communication. Technology.

In keeping with this theme, we aim to showcase research, experiences and best practices that are shaping the world for those who are deafblind. This conference is not only for academics and professionals working in the field of deafblindness, but also professional interpreters and communication guides, people who are deafblind, together with families of people with both acquired and congenital deafblindness.

Further information and registration:

The Hour of Code

From Phia Damsma, Sonokids

The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week. This is in 2018 from December 3-9.

The Hour of Code website offers tutorials and activities. But it admits to something that we had already discovered: there are very few options for students who are vision-impaired.

Hurray, here comes Ballyland Code 1: Say Hello, the new app from Sonokids!
Create an activity for Hour of Code with and around this app.
Play the app’s Coding Challenge. For an inclusive classroom activity, turn on ‘Black Curtain’ mode. With no visual feedback at all, sighted students will have to rely on their hearing just like the students with vision impairment, creating an equal playing field and a great learning experience.

Use a tactile game grid, or stick tactile lines on the floor to create a life-size grid in which the students can be ‘coded’ by their peers to move around. How do you get to Tinkleball, and where are the obstacles?

Use Reach & Match tiles to create a play-mat and ‘code’ a tactile route to follow, similar to the one in the app

From The ‘Paths to Technology’ website:
“The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students. It is designed to show students that anyone can learn how to code and to encourage students to consider the field of computer science”. And: “Ballyland Code can be used with all young students – including students with visual impairments - as an Hour of Code activity”.

With two new Ballyland Code apps in the pipeline, Sonokids aims to make an ever growing valuable contribution to accessible activities for the Hour of Code.
If you have a suggestion for a coding activity around "Ballyland Code 1: Say Hello", please send me an email, as we will share all ideas on the Sonokids website.

Of course, other accessible activities for Hour of Code are also welcome, as I can collect and publish those to the SPEVI website.

Goalball For All

Article from Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria Newsletter, December 2018 by Brooke Carter

Coming in March 2019 is our Goalball For All Program which aims to strengthen the community by providing sporting opportunities to people who have low vision and educate fully sighted participants about living with low vision.
Kick-starting the Goalball For All program will be three Come & Try days being held in March. We invite everyone to come along and give goalball a go! These Come & Try days are a great chance to meet experienced players, make new friends and try a new sport in a friendly, safe and controlled environment with expert staff on hand to take participants through the game step by step.

Playing Goalball is hungry business, we have identified this and not to worry ... We’ve got you covered! Every Come & Try day will finish with a friendly social barbecue that everyone is invited to attend. Our barbecues are a great way to meet families that are involved in Goalball, start new relationships and ask our friendly staff any questions you might have. The best part is - IT’S ALL FREE!

Would you like to be involved in our 2019 programs?
Junior Program

Our Junior Program provides children aged 14 and under with the opportunity to play goalball in a fun, inclusive and supportive environment. Participating in the program enables children to learn and practice new skills such as teamwork, communication and orientation. Our program is great fun and can provide children with future elite pathways in the sport of Goalball, social opportunities with their peers around them and promotes an avenue of active success for youths.

Local League Competition

Aimed at people 15 years and over, our friendly competitive competition might be what you’re looking for. Split between two seasons, “Autumn” and “Winter”. This is a great opportunity to play Goalball in a real action packed competition. Open Aged Men, Open Aged Women and Under 19 Youths, are all divisions that you could participate in. Play in a team for the opportunity to gain the titles of Autumn and Winter League Victors! For more information about our programs, please email us at:

Melbourne Recital Centre: Song Play Workshop

As part of Melbourne Recital Centre's "Music Play" Festival, four days of concerts and music workshops for young families are being offered. Students who are blind or have low vision and aged from 5-10 years are invited to come to this free event.

When: Thursday 17 January
Time: 11.30am to 12.00 noon
Where: Melbourne Recital Centre, Cnr Southbank Blvd & Sturt Street, Southbank
Cost: Free

To secure your spot:

Support Skills News

From Garry Stinchcombe, Support Skills Coordinator

If you are returning to the program in 2019 and haven’t yet confirmed that you will be returning, please do so immediately. We have started planning for next year and want to include you!

If you have indicated that you will be returning to the program in 2019 please keep a watch on the mail in mid-January as Emma Hall will be posting out the SSP forms and a calendar with dates for 2019.

We are always a little sad to farewell students who are exiting the program and moving into VCE and VCAL. This year we have 12 SSP students who have exited the program. We will miss these students and their families as we’ve developed long standing friendships. We are proud to have been a small part of their journey and wish them all the best for the future. One of these families has had 3 of their children attend the program. Their involvement goes back 12 years and involves nearly 100 trips to the program, an extraordinary effort!

The upside is we’ve got an eager group of new students and their families looking to join the program in 2019. We have been running Try Days and inviting potential students to attend with some of our older groups.

We want to extend a special thanks to all the families who have put their trust in us here at the SVRC to provide a quality program for your child/young adult over the last 12 months. We know what lengths families go to so their child can attend the program. Many families travel long distances making complex arrangements to have other children picked up and dropped off. Some parents we know give up their annual leave days in order that their child can attend the program. This effort and commitment have been a key motivator for us to make sure we deliver the best program we possibly can. Thanks parent/families. You rule!

We value our long-standing association and strong links with our partner organizations Guide Dogs Victoria and Vision Australia. We acknowledge and thank them for their invaluable contribution to the program over the last 12 months. We always encourage families to let these organizations know of their valued contribution to the Support Skills Program.

I also want to thank all the SVRC and SSP Staff who are so creative and talented. We are fortunate to have such diversity of skills and depth of experience to call on each week. Teaching in the program isn’t for the faint hearted, you never know what you will be asked to do! You need to call on all your skills, resourcefulness and extensive knowledge to help find a solution and then some more. Thanks to the great team for yet another fabulous year.

The SSP Online Evaluation Form is still open. We would welcome your feedback: Please remember to enter the code ssp2018 to submit your comments.

Congratulations to David Law

Marion Blazé recognised David Law's support of the SVRC Support Skills Program at the Graduation Day recently. Three of the Law children, Jacob, Kate and Nicholas, have attended the Support Skills program over the years. David's involvement goes back to when the program was run at the Burwood Vision Australia School. Eldest son, Jacob, commenced the program in 2007 and youngest son, Nicholas, graduated from Support Skills last week.

David has driven to the program on nearly 100 occasions which is quite a formidable effort. We always value the effort families make in ensuring their children can access the program. When this involves three children over 12 years, this is an exceptional effort!

The staff of the SVRC have valued our long term association and friendship with David and the Law family and we wish them all the very best.

Fantastic Website on CVI

Thank you to Lucinda, mother of a child with CVI living in NSW, for pointing me towards this great website.

CVI Scotland is an organisation devoted to helping people understand Cerebral Visual Impairments (CVI), and together working towards beginning to master this complex spectrum of conditions. The website has some great information about CVI. You can also access ‘Look’, a reading tool, with multiple functions and settings, designed to make reading easier for people with CVI.

Holiday Gymnastics Clinic

Source: Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria Newsletter, December 2018

BSRV would like to invite primary school aged children who are blind have low vision to develop their skills and confidence at a fun filled gymnastics clinic.
When: Monday 21 January 2019

Where: Essendon Keilor Gymnastics Academy, 194-196 Roberts Rd, Airport West
Cost: Free

As places are limited, please email Miriam at to register.

Great School Holiday Activity or Christmas Gift Idea – Dialogue in the Dark

Dialogue in the Dark is still free for teachers. Just contact their Box Office to arrange a complimentary ticket any time (no code required), even over the school holidays or a weekend.

Also, you can arrange gift vouchers as Christmas presents for your friends and family to experience DiD, too. Contact the Box Office on 1300 411 881.

SVRC Writing Competition – 2018 winners!!

There were 14 highly creative and insightful entries in this year’s writing competition with the theme, ‘My Dream App’. All entrants received a certificate and chocolates and our special prize winners received wonderful audio books donated by Bolinda Audiobooks – thanks so much Bolinda!!

Our overall winner was Anita (Year 4) with an amazing essay about her ‘Detective Eye’. She even sent us a prototype of her gadget!

The winner for the Year 2 group was Cohen for his brailled story about ‘My Magic Technology’.

The winner for the Year 4 group was Bai Yang who sent in an MP3 file about an accessible haunted house game (with sound effects!).
The winner for the Year 5/6 group was Rory who wrote an extremely detailed and technical description of his ‘Ultra PC’.

The winner for the Year 7 group was Anna for her ‘Infinity Life’ app idea.
The winner for the Year 8 group was Sammy for an app to help you with shopping.
Well done all. We may have some future inventors amongst our students and certainly have some budding writers!

ABC DisRupted Short Film Initiative: Casting Call!!!

One of our ex-students, Olivia is planning to submit an entry to the ABC's DisRupted program. She has scripted a short film about a teenager living with a disability and is looking for a girl, aged 8-12 to star in her film. The deadline is tight - please let us know as soon as you can if you are interested.

If you are interested in the ABC's project from a writer or director's point of view, go to the ABC website to find out more details about the project:

Sign up for Borrow Box Over the Holidays – and Happy Reading!

Did you know that you can get free eBooks and eAudiobooks from your local library? Every Victorian public library offers BorrowBox. This app allows you to download eBooks and eAudiobooks, four at a time, from your library’s Bolinda collection. Contact your local library to find out how. This service isn’t just for students with vision impairments. Any member of a public library can access BorrowBox, so teachers and parents can borrow books to read over the holidays!

You can also purchase Audio and Large Print books from Bolinda (great as Christmas presents). Go to for more information and catalogues.

Thank you again to Bolinda, who have always been very generous in donating audio book prizes for our annual writing competitions.
Bell Balls from Windmill

Windmill in Surrey Hills currently has two kinds of bell balls for sale. There is a round hard plastic ball with holes ($3.00) and a soft plastic football-shaped ball, also with holes ($1.50).

Vacancy: Learning Support Officer

St Mary's Primary School in St Kilda East has a part time vacancy supporting a grade 4 student who reads braille. Contact Mr Gerard Lewis for further details:


Amanda Stotten of Staughton College AND Yeliz Uyanik of Glenroy Central School have successfully completed the SVRC Braille Course by Correspondence. Congratulations to you both!

Garry Stinchcombe is Retiring

Garry Stinchcombe is retiring!!!

Garry has been our Support Skills Coordinator at SVRC since we started running the program in 2010, and before that he ran it at Vision Australia’s school in Burwood. He had many years as teacher AP and Principal at the Vision Australia (or RVIB) school, too.
Many of us knew Garry, prior to his time here at SVRC, as the voice of wisdom on many a committee: SPEVI (South Pacific Educators of the Vision Impaired), TALG (Technical Aids Liaison Group), and ABA (Australian Braille Authority) to name a few.

Garry has made an amazing contribution to the education and support, inclusion and wellbeing of students with vision impairments, and to the support of their families. He has also been a wonderful colleague and friend to many of us.

We’ve all marvelled at his memory for family names, timetables, dates, and his expertise with technology and his personal qualities of calmness, generosity and a razor sharp wit!!
We will miss him sooooo much, but wish him a fulfilling and happy retirement.

At the Christmas Morning Tea, his work was acknowledged. Artist and teacher, Michael Donnelly presented him with one of his original creations, a wonderful ceramic pot, the design including a student with low vision holding a cane and a blind student holding a Perkins Brailler.


Friday (7 December) is our last Support Skills day for 2018 so I guess that means it is almost the end of the school year … please request and return materials in alternative formats in these last remaining weeks. Thanks! – Deb Lewis (Ed)
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