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Australia leading the way in Braille eLearning

MEDIA RELEASE

The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) has officially launched the world’s first eLearning Braille course, UEB Online. UEB Online is designed to help people who can see support the people in their life that are using Braille as a vital part of their communication.

UEB Online is leading the way in using technology to promote braille literacy both in Australia, and internationally. Learning Unified English Braille (UEB) code has never been easier with this accessible online platform - all you need is your computer and an internet connection. 

“Braille is fundamental to the development of language and literacy in people who are blind,” said UEB Online project leader and RIDBC Lecturer (Vision Impairment), Dr Frances Gentle. “Since our soft launch to industry, UEB Online has seen over 3,000 users access the program over 38,500 times.

“Designed for people who can see, UEB Online creates opportunities for families and mainstream educators to access a simple system that will allow them to support children and adults with vision loss who are using Braille - no matter where they live.

“This is critical to the development of literacy, with research showing that children who are blind and learning braille have better employment outcomes as adults. Withholding braille from a child with significant vision loss would be like saying to another child that they don’t need to read anything anymore, that they should only learn by listening.”

UEB Online encourages social inclusion and may be used to reach out in the simplest of ways - leaving a note or writing a birthday card in braille can make a world of difference to a person with vision loss.

For Tamworth residents, Julian and Michele Kelly, UEB Online has been an essential tool for learning the Braille they need to best support their son, Charlie, who has significant vision loss.

“RIDBC has been using technology to support our family since 2007 when Charlie was the first child to access RIDBC Teleschool, a program that supports families in regional or remote areas using high quality videoconferencing technology,” said Charlie’s father, Julian.

“For families living in regional areas like ours, specialist disability services are scarce on the ground. UEB Online is providing an accessible, affordable solution for us to learn braille. It’s just another way RIDBC is making sure we get the expert assistance we need to give Charlie the best possible start in life.

“Now I can help Charlie with his homework, something that every parent wants to be able to do for their child. It sounds so simple, but things like that are essential to Charlie’s language and literacy development. With this support, Charlie’s confidence has really increased and he’s less frustrated. It’s pretty incredible.”

UEB Online has also been adopted by many nations in the developing world.

“Unified English Braille code has been officially adopted by six countries – Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, South Africa and the UK,” said Dr Gentle. “However 5% of UEB Online’s participants come 83 other countries, many of them in the developing world. 

“Many developing nations lack the public resource for braille education - only five out of 16 Pacific Island nations have resources for children to learn braille. UEB Online offers teachers in countries like Vanuatu, the opportunity to learn braille so that children with vision loss can go to school for the first time!”

Users wanting to access UEB Online should visit www.uebonline.org, registration is free.

RIDBC is Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education, cochlear implant and diagnostic services for people with vision or hearing loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year. Services are provided from 17 sites across Australia and through an outreach service that supports clients living in regional areas. 

RIDBC is a charity and relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of children and adults with vision or hearing loss. 

ENDS

Media Contact

  • Zoë Myers, Communications Manager, RIDBC, (02) 9872 0334, +61 413 118 609
  • Linda Berrigan, Director Marketing and Communications, RIDBC  (02) 9872 0304, +61 478 119 066

About RIDBC

RIDBC provides much-needed support services and education Australia-wide to children and families. This support enables children, from newborns through to their late teenage years, to overcome the many challenges associated with deafness and blindness so that they can reach their full potential.

SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, an RIDBC service, is Australia’s largest and most comprehensive cochlear implant program, setting new benchmarks and delivering the highest level of care and support at every stage of the cochlear implant journey. RIDBC services are conducted from seventeen permanent sites and in rural and regional areas across Australia through RIDBC Teleschool and telepractice. 

RIDBC Renwick Centre, in affiliation with the University of Newcastle, conducts world-leading research and offers postgraduate courses in a range of fields relating to the development and education of children with hearing or vision loss.

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