Teachers not up to disability support, says charity

by Brett Henebery03 Aug 2015

Melissa McCarthy, director of educational services Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC), told The Educator that mainstream teachers are largely ill-equipped to meet the needs of students with hearing and vision impairment, adding the important role specialist teachers play in providing this support must be recognised.

“These professionals bring a unique set of skills and expertise to the education of children with sensory disability and the mainstream staff who support them,” McCarthy told The Educator.

“Children with sensory disability have very specific learning needs that required tailored learning adjustments that go beyond the scope of mainstream classroom teachers.

“Unfortunately, there is a trend towards expecting mainstream teachers to support these children on their own or with the support of generalist special educators who may not be proficient in effectively meeting the needs of children with hearing or vision loss.”

McCarthy said this issue will be highlighted in the upcoming Senate Inquiry into the school system for students with disability.

“As an organisation, the RIDBC welcomes this type of inquiry as we are continuously reviewing our programs to ensure that we are providing the most appropriate services for the students we support and that we are responding to changing trends as they arise,” McCarthy said.

“We will be making a submission to the Committee, but equally, we are eager to see the outcomes of the inquiry and will work to incorporate any relevant recommendations into our programs.”

The Federal Government is currently introducing major change through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) which will change the way support for children with a disability is funded, causing charities like the RIDBC to rethink their operating models.

McCarthy explained how the changes are impacting on charities like hers.

“The RIDBC operates in a dynamic and competitive environment,” McCarthy said.

“Ongoing changes in the health, education and disability services sectors, increased options for intervention and support, and the changing way that people with disabilities access and choose their service providers, are transforming the sector in exciting ways.”

McCarthy said at this point, it’s still not clear how NDIS funding will intersect with education funding, and that the RIDBC will need to work closely with students and families to ensure our services remain responsive to their needs.

“Competing in this environment requires an unwavering commitment to our core mission to make a difference in the lives of people with vision or hearing loss,” McCarthy said.

The RIDBC, which is Australia’s largest non-government provider of education, therapy and cochlear implant services, operates 17 sites across Australia which provide more than 1,500 students and their families with educational and therapy support.
 
The RIDBC, which is Australia’s largest non-government provider of education, therapy and cochlear implant services, operates 17 sites across Australia which provide more than 1,500 students and their families with educational and therapy support.
 
For more information please visit the RIDBC’s website here.

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