The Observatory

Q&A with Ana Radis, RIDBC Early Learning Program Coordinator (Vision Impairment), on the NDIS

In June, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) played a key role in a significant milestone, when the Minister for Disability Services, the Honourable John Ajaka MLC, officially announced the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)  roll out in NSW at their North Rocks campus. 
Ana Radis, RIDBC Early Learning Program Coordinator (Vision Impairment), takes a moment to talk to us about her experience with the NDIS and how it will affect the lives of people who are blind or vision impaired.
  • Ana, can you tell our readers about the importance of choice and independence for people who are blind or vision impaired?
Vision impairment and blindness can impact individuals in various ways depending on their learning style, skills, interests, lifestyle, family supports and, most importantly, level of vision impairment. The NDIS has provided greater choice, control and flexibility for people who are blind or vision impaired and allows us to better meet the needs of the individual. 
One person may choose to receive all their supports through one organisation, while another may benefit from accessing help from a range of service providers. It’s important for RIDBC to help families and individuals understand the choices they have in helping them reach their full potential.
RIDBC has always worked alongside agencies like Guide Dogs, Vision Australia, Save Sight Institute, suppliers of specialised disability resources and technology and other community service providers, including Allied Health professionals, teachers and doctors to provide the best services for the client. In this way, we combine resources to enable people to reach their full potential and function as independent and valued members of society.
  • Can you describe your experience with the NDIS?
RIDBC is well prepared for the roll out of the NDIS after having participated in trial sites in the Hunter, ACT and Nepean Blue Mountains districts and already leads the way in providing individualised and tailored services to meet the unique needs and life goals of the children, adults and families we support. 
As you would expect with any new system, the NDIS has had a few teething problems with developing new processes and as a service provider, RIDBC is keeping up to date with ongoing changes as the scheme rolls out across Australia.
Our other challenge has been in supporting families and helping them to understand the new system, and how to access the NDIS and plan and articulate goals for their child’s ongoing needs. This is a critical process for families as they must create plans that potentially will meet their needs. 
RIDBC is fortunate to have experienced staff educating and guiding families through this process. To date most families have seen a real benefit and increased access to services and resources that previously may not have been available. 
The NDIS has created opportunities for RIDBC to expand and continue to improve our  assessment and intervention services by being responsive to our client’s needs. An area where students have definitely benefited from the NDIS is the extension of services from school to home. The NDIS has enabled parents and students to have increased support with the transition from early intervention to school, and has provided them with a link of what is being taught at school and opportunities to generalise these skills to the home.
  • Finally, how do you think the NDIS will transform the lives of people who are blind or vision impaired?
Providing families with choice and control over services and how they are delivered is a fundamental change.  In a short time there has been a real shift from both families and service providers in realising the potential that the NDIS offers in assisting individuals to reach their goals and work towards independence. 
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About the Author

Ana Radis

Ana Radis is the coordinator for RIDBC Early Learning Program (Vision Impairment).The program provides home based and centre based early intervention and educational services to children with significant vision impairment from 0-8yrs of age living in metropolitan Sydney. Ana has a background in Occupational Therapy and has worked at RIDBC for the last thirteen years where she has gained most of her sensory impairment experience. Over the last few years she has had a particular interest in the use of technology in the field of disability and education and its application to the children she works with.View author's posts
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