Have you ever noticed how much you are using technology in your day-to-day life to make things easier? Unfortunately, access to mainstream technologies that we use everyday is not yet as available for people with deafblindness. To combat this, Able Australia have collaborated with Swinburne University to better understand the current technology use and needs of people with deafblindness and how best to address these needs.

Over the past 12 months, Swinburne University and Able Australia have been collaborating and setting up a project on accessibility of mainstream technology for people with deafblindness. The team are looking at how technology is used in the deafblind community, both with Able Australia’s community based and residential services clients. The team are then undertaking work with our occupational therapist to find ways to improve access to technology for our people living with deafblindness.

So far, the team have begun recruitment and have interviewed eight of our Able clients to be a part of this amazing project. All the individuals interviewed have used technologies to varying levels and with varying amounts of success. Members of the Swinburne team have then worked with our team at Able Australia in determining the goals identified by participants. Our team has then worked in collaboration with our occupational therapists, communication guides, support workers, and interpreters.

Even with the pandemic, there have been some fabulous learnings from this project that have had a direct impact on our clients, our staff, and the way we do things at Able Australia. First, we have seen how inclusive technologies can make a difference in the lives of people with deafblindness, and that with the right supports, training, and technologies, there are so many ways to improve quality of life and independence for our clients. We have also seen how both in the community and in residential services, we can better assist our staff to support our clients, whether this is in using technology to improve communication, or in how we access technology with clients. These learnings are being passed on to all of our clients and staff to ensure that we continue to uphold our values of providing a service that exemplifies trust, excellence, respect, and kindness. We hope to continue to see further gains in better understanding how both inclusive and assistive technologies can support the deafblind community, and how to best demonstrate the necessity of both the technologies and surrounding supports to the NDIA.

This project is funded until the end of 2022 and we look forward to bringing you more updates as the project progresses and we work with more people with deafblindness.

Below is a photo from our Technology Lab at our Northcote Day Centre where our Occupational Therapists work with our clients to create better days, every day.

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