The members of the SPEVI VI-NDIS working group, also on behalf of other members of SPEVI, put together a comprehensive submission to a Parliamentary inquiry into the provision of assistive technology in the context of the NDIS. A range of issues was raised, including a suggestion for the NDIA to reconsider their stance on not funding mainstream devices, even though because of their accessibility features and multiple functions/apps, these may be more suitable, effective, comprehensive and much more economical for our students than specialised equipment. The Parliamentary Committee will consider carefully all the matters we have raised. Shortly after, some of our concerns were also shared during a meeting with a representative of the NDIA.
The SPEVI VI-NDIS working group undertook email correspondence with the Director NDIA Assistive Technology Team inquiring about the NDIA AT Strategy. We endeavoured to get more clarity on issues raised to us by SPEVI members, such as uncertainty around funding of Assistive Technology (AT), and the definition of AT, which was causing great concerns for families and leads to inequity of opportunity.
Although we did receive a reply from the Agency, unfortunately some of the issues remained not completely clear.
November 2015 - February 2016
The SPEVI VI-NDIS working group developed a Position Statement on the Role of the Specialist teacher (Vision Impairment). This document aims to highlight the unique skills and expertise of Specialist Teachers (Vision Impairment) and the importance of their early and ongoing involvement in the development and education of young children with vision impairment - in the context of the NDIS.
29 October 2015
Phia Damsma represented SPEVI at the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Assistive Technology Strategy at the NDIS New World – Disability in the 21st Century – Conference and Trade Show, Brisbane. Following the conference a report was submitted to the SPEVI Committee of Management with a short overview of this particular conference session, as well as some considerations regarding the NDIA AT Strategy document, and potential action points for SPEVI. The report has been approved by the COM. The NDIA later responded to queries that were sent out following the conference with regards to support for children with AT requirements specific to vision impairment in the school system. “This interface issue is the subject of a series of principles agreed by COAG to determine the responsibilities of the NDIS and other service systems”. More information about these principles
The members of the SPEVI VI-NDIS working group participated in a teleconference to discuss issues that are becoming apparent with the continuing rollout of the NDIS throughout the country. It is vital that the essential role specialist teachers play in the education of children with vision impairment is showcased to the broader community including families, professionals and the NDIA. A key message is that this support must be targeted at essential areas including Early educational intervention, Orientation & Mobility advice and training, and Assistive Technology, all of which specialist teachers are best suited to coordinate and deliver.
To promote the role of specialist teachers in the education of children with vision impairment, the group plans to create an information sheet to be published on this website. This information sheet will inform families, professionals and the NDIA regarding the need to identify children with vision impairment early, so they can access timely support from specialist teachers to ensure the best outcome for the child’s development.
The Disability Reform Council – which is made up of Disability Ministers from the Commonwealth and States and Territories – has endorsed an Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Policy Framework.
The ILC Policy says that ILC is the component of the NDIS that provides information, linkages and referrals to efficiently and effectively connect people with disability, their families and carers with appropriate disability, community and mainstream supports (including Education).
ILC should establish and facilitate capacity building supports for people with disability, their families and carers that are not directly tied to a person through an individually funded package.
ILC should also promote collaboration and partnership with local communities and mainstream and universal services (including Education) to ensure greater inclusivity and accessibility of people with disability. Download the ILC Policy Framework document
VI-NDIS – SPEVI working group prepared a submission on behalf of SPEVI to the Review of the National Disability Advocacy Framework.
This submission was confirmed and acknowledged by Department of Social Services (DSS) Advocacy and Access branch in an email on 11/12/2015: “The Department received 133 submissions on the review of the National Disability Advocacy Framework (NDAF). All opinion and information provided in the submissions was considered in the formation of the revised framework which will also incorporate recent developments such as the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and changes to the National Disability Agreement. The final draft of the revised framework is currently being considered by Australian governments and it will be published on the Department of Social Services website once it has been approved. The revised NDAF will guide the delivery of disability advocacy and advocacy-like supports nationally during the transition to the full implementation of the NDIS.”
NDIS Readiness Forum organised in Queensland with a focus on vision impairment and accessible for people with vision impairment, at the initiative of Phia Damsma on behalf of the VI-NDIS – SPEVI working group. Positive feedback and a clear demand for more such forums in the future. Parents of children with vision impairment attending the Forum expressed a need to meet together and share experiences in preparation for the Planner interview. They proposed this would improve their opportunities to advocate effectively for the needs and goals of their children.
The SPEVI VI-NDIS working group put in a submission to the NDIA in Queensland (for forwarding to national NDIA). The submission document addressed specific concerns by SPEVI regarding the rollout of the NDIS and young people with Vision Impairment. One of the biggest concerns expressed in this document is the generalised, non-specialised professional background of the NDIS planners. Proper and efficient assessment of the specific needs of children who are blind or have low vision requires a professional with specific expertise in this field. Planners require expert knowledge to be able to interpret eye specialists’ reports and know the factual impact on the daily, functional vision of a child. To read the submitted document, please download the Information document regarding specific issues NDIS and Vision Impairment
In support of this submission the working group also sent NDIA the ‘Severity Indicators of Vision Impairment’ document. This document was compiled last year by another working group of which Sue Silveira was a member, and it was submitted to the NDIA in NSW. It provides a straightforward, step-by-step method to assist a planner to at least make more sense of the clinical data reports provided by eye specialists. More will be required, but we believe that this document could serve as a valuable first step. Download here Severity Indicators of Vision Impairment