Dbi review issue Number 45 • January – June 2010

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Sense International (Romania)

together with Deafblind people in Romania

With the financial support of International Women’s Association from Bucharest, Sense International (Romania) equips the Emergency Hospital Sf. Pantelimon screening device to test the hearing of newborn babies. The device, worth approximately 10,000 Euro, will ensure the screening of around 2,000 babies each year.

On March 20, 2010, the medical staff from the Neonatal Unit was trained in testing the hearing of babies, by Dr. Alexandru Pascu – ENT/audiology specialist, PHD in medical sciences and researcher of the “Prof. Dr. Dorin Hociota” Medical Center for Phono-Audiology and ENT Functional Surgery.

“An optimum and efficient hearing screening programme for newborn babies will allow the early identification (in the first month of life) of permanent bilateral hearing impairments. An objective diagnosis can be given by the age of 3 months, while an adequate therapeutic intervention (prostheses or cochlear implant) can be done by the age of 6 months. This way, the child is given the best chances for a normal acquisition of information and normal development of language” Dr. Alexandru Pascu.

Sense International (Romania) continues implementing the Early Intervention programme, providing babies and young children with visual and/or hearing impairments the chance to benefit from diagnosis, rehabilitation and early intervention. The programme is developed in partnership with national and local authorities, kindergartens and schools, with the support of multidisciplinary teams consisting of doctors, special education teachers, psychologists and parents.

After the initial hearing screening, SI(R) has an active role in providing solutions for the problems identified. Therefore, the children diagnosed with sensory impairments begin an individualized rehabilitation programme within the Early Intervention Support Centres developed by SI(R) in Bucharest, Oradea and Timisoara.

The positive outcomes of this programme in 2009 consist of 6,564 newborn babies having their hearing and/or vision screened (in Obstetrics – Gynaecology Clinical Hospital Prof. Dr. Panait Sarbu in Bucharest, Obstetrics – Gynaecology Clinical Hospital Dr. Ioan Cantacuzino in Bucharest Obstetrics – Gynaecology Clinical Hospital Oradea and Obstetrics – Gynaecology Clinical Hospital Dumitru Popescu in Timisoara).

About Sense International (Romania) – SI(R) is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organisation, with no political affiliation, independent of private or public institutions. SI(R) was established in 2001 and, for almost 10 years, it has developed many programmes to support deafblind people in Romania. SI(R) mission is to work in partnership with others – deafblind people, their families, carers and professional – to ensure that everyone facing challenges because of deafblindness has access to advice, opportunities and support.

The active involvement of Sense International (Romania) in providing support to deafblind people and the excellent results of its programmes gained SI(R) two important distinctions in 2009, as part of ERSTE Foundation Awards for Social Integration – the Recognition Award and the Practitioners’ Award.

Country News

Australian DeafBlind Council (ADBC) has a new email address, info@deafblind.org.au and telephone number 03 9882 8596.

National Companion Card

The National Companion Card Scheme was officially launched on 3 December last, International Day of People with Disabilities, and the website is now live at http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/disability/progserv/people/companioncard/Pages/default.aspx.

The National Companion Card Scheme enables people with disability dependent on full-time care to take a carer with them on transport and to sporting and entertainment events for the price of a single ticket. More than 2700 businesses are supporting the Companion Card including the AFL, Basketball Australia, Tennis Australia, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Reading Cinemas, Circus Oz, Fitness First Australia, Circus Royale, Event Cinemas and the Australian Ballet.

New Disability Employment Services Announced:

Successful organisations for the Australian Government’s new $1.2 billion Disability Employment Services program, which began on 1 March 2010, were announced in December last. One of the significant changes is the removal of the cap on the number of people who can access help. There will be 66 organisations from more than 1100 sites delivering Disability Employment Services Program A, which is for job seekers with disability, injury or health condition who require assistance but are not expected to need long-term support in the workplace. A list of successful organisations by Employment Service Area for 2010-2012 is available at http://www.workplace.gov.au.

Inquiry into ageing and disability

The Australian Senate Community Affairs References Committee will inquire into access to planning options and services for people with disability to ensure their continued quality of life as they and their carers age. The inquiry also aims to identify any inadequacies in the choice and funding of planning options currently available to people ageing with disability and their carers. The Committee is seeking written submissions by 28 May 2010 for report by 2 September 2010. For more information, visit http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/clac_ctte/planning_options_people_ageing_with_disability/index.htm

Disability Investment Group report

The Disability Investment Group report, ‘The Way Forward: A new disability policy framework for Australia’, has been released as part of the Australian Government’s commitment to set out a ten-year plan for coordinated, across-government action for Australians with disability. With the number of people with a severe or profound disability predicted to rise to 2.3 million by 2030, the Government is looking at how to better support people with disability over the long-term. The Government has already responded to the report’s primary recommendation by announcing that the Productivity Commission will undertake a comprehensive feasibility study into a national disability insurance scheme. The report and membership of the Disability Investment Group can be found at http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/disability/news/Pages/disability_investgroup_report.aspx

Greater Access to DVDs for Australians with Vision or Hearing Impairment

The Australian Visual Software Distributors Association (AVSDA), representing the home entertainment film and TV industry, has announced that all the major film distributors, and some smaller Australian independents, have committed to make available audio description and English captioning on the majority of theatrical films when released on DVD.
The distributors making this commitment include: Disney Studios Home Entertainment; Hopscotch Entertainment; Madman Entertainment; Paramount Home Entertainment; Roadshow Entertainment; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; Twentieth-Century Fox Home Entertainment; Universal Pictures Video and Warner Home Video. One distributor that hasn’t agreed to increase captioning or audio description is 21st Century Pictures (it does not appear to be an AVSDA member).
Disability groups representing vision and hearing impairment have been lobbying for a commitment from distributors to improve media access features on DVDs and follows the development of the AVSDA Accessibility Framework for the Home Entertainment Film Industry and labelling standards developed in conjunction with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (now Australian Human Rights Commission) in 2007.
The announcement means that the major home entertainment film and TV distribution companies operating in Australia have committed to ensuring that the majority of theatrical films when released to standard definition DVD, will contain both audio description and English captioning or subtitles. Significantly, this commitment also meets the Australian Government’s desire to ensure that DVDs distributed in Australia ‘include captions and audio description, where these are already available’.
This announcement does not apply to non-studio or acquired films distributed in Australia as these films and the DVD features therein are out of the control of the distributor.
The AVSDA Accessibility Framework for the Home Entertainment Film Industry and labelling standards can be viewed at http://www.avsda.com.au/dvdaccess.asp.

Adelaide Festival produces Australia’s first audio-described spectacular

The 2010 Adelaide Festival last February hosted the first Australian outdoor spectacular to be audio described. Its Artistic Director, Paul Grabowsky, said he was delighted to have made the opening festival event- A Little More Light more accessible to people with a disability. The audio description enhanced the live experience, giving visual details of the performance by “Groupe F”, who lit up the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 1998 French World Cup.” By bringing a portable radio and tuning to Radio Adelaide 101.5FM, audience members could listen to a description of the visual aspects of the free performance. This event resulted from the successful collaboration between the Community Arts Network (CAN SA), Disability & Arts Transition Team (DATT) and the Adelaide Festival. The Adelaide Festival access initiative included Auslan interpreted events, a sur-titled production of Le Grand Macabre, wheelchair access at all venues, and Assistive Listening Devices (audio loops) for hearing aid users installed at specific theatre venues.

Human Rights Commission requests further information from cinemas

The Australian Human Rights Commission is currently assessing an application from Hoyts, Greater Union, Village and Reading cinemas for a temporary exemption from requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act in relation to captioning and audio description while they expand the current accessible circuit from 12 to 35 cinemas.
What is DiVine? DiVine (http://www.divine.vic.gov.au) is a new website written by and for people with disability and published by the Victorian Government’s Office for Disability. DiVine aims at informing, engaging and entertaining. It is a vibrant, inclusive community that encourages participation. It gives the opportunity for people to learn from each other and have fun at the same time.

Access to aviation

The first-ever comprehensive White Paper ‘Flight Path to the Future’ (http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/nap/index.aspx) brings together all strands of aviation policy into a single document providing planning, regulatory and investment certainty for the Australian aviation industry to 2020 and beyond. Through the work of the Aviation Access Working Group (AAWG), http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/aawg/), on which National Disability Services (NDS) and the Australian Blindness Forum (ABF) are represented, the White Paper recognises the significant difficulties faced by passengers with disability. The AAWG, which has met regularly since February this year was consulted on the new guidelines for airport security screening operators; allocation of emergency exit row seating; simplifying pre-flight processes for the safe carriage of an assistance animal in an aircraft cabin. The AAWG was also consulted in-depth on the Disability Access Facilitation Plan scheme which will see airlines and airports better communicate their efforts to achieve disability access. The Australian High Commission has called on the government to set up a process for the voluntary lodgment of the plans by mid 2010.


Australian Orientation and Mobility Conference

The 4th Australasian Orientation and Mobility Conference (AMC2010) will take place between 24-26 November 2010, and hosted by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT at The Women’s College within the University of Sydney.

This is a conference for the professional development of Orientation and Mobility specialists, including Guide Dog specialists and those with an interest in vision impairment. Invitations for the submission of abstracts are now open.

More information at: http:// www.guidedogs.com.au/amc2010

South Pacific Educators in Vision Impairment (SPEVI) Conference 2011 will be held in Sydney from 16 to 21 January 2011. The call for papers will go out later this year. In the meantime, for more information, contact Tricia d’Apice at the RIDBC Teleschool by phoning 02 9872 0332 or emailing tricia.dapice@ridbc.org.au.

The 8th National Deafblind Conference was held during Wednesday 28th April to Friday 30th April and attracted over 300 delegates from around Australia and overseas, including people who are deafblind, carers, family members, State and Federal Government Officials, disability/deafblind industry groups and suppliers and other professionals working in the field of disability support services. Able Australia hosted the conference in conjunction with the Australian DeafBlind Council.

The conference was a massive success with a variety of topics being presented by a range of experts which proved extremely insightful and were all aimed at ultimately improving the quality, breadth and ongoing development of services provided to deafblind people. Many ideas, issues, directions and solutions were discussed and debated over the three days. Delegates were also treated to a Masquerade Ball which gave everyone a chance to mingle and get to know one another in what was a great night for all involved.

The conference concluded with members of the deafblind community participating in one of two recreational activities; a river cruise up and down the Yarra or a visit to Panton Hill Winery. A great way to cap off a progressive, educational and inspiring few days.

Thank you to all who attended and made the 8th National Deafblind Conference one to remember and such a great success!!

Raffle 56 Winner!!

Allan and Tum Smith from Merbein were the lucky winners of Raffle 56’s first prize – a brand new Volkswagen Golf 90TSi.

The couple have never won anything before and as expected were ecstatic when they found out the good news. Mr Smith will have the pleasure of driving the Volkswagon all the way home to Merbein. A fantastic opportunity to test out the new car!

Our raffles are another way Able Australia is raising much needed funds to improve the lives of the people supported through our services and programs.

By supporting our raffles you directly add value and enjoyment to the lives of the people we support. Plus, of course, you might win a new car!

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