Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Haptics, is or dealing with the sense of touch, is a key part of the everyday for a Deafblind individual.  The sense of touch is harnessed to convey information of multiple types (Visual, Auditory, Emotional etc).

I recently had the privilege of attending two Haptics conferences.  Firstly the IEEE Haptics Symposium 2012 which was held in Vancouver, Canada in March and most recently the EuroHaptics 2012 conference in Tampere, Finland.  Both of these conferences were extremely interesting and although most of the technology currently being developed is not directly applicable, many could be combined with existing work to be utilised in the Disability sector.

EuroHaptics 2012 was most intriguing for its inclusion of a talk about Social Haptics.
Social Haptics, researched by Riitta Lahtinen.  Riitta presented with Russ Palmer to demonstrate their usage of "Socially Acceptable" sign which relies heavily on the use of body areas that are predetermined as neutral zones (non-invasive or obstructive).

Social Haptics is utilised in two different environments :

Formal Interpreting
If the hand is primarily being used for the conveyence of auditory based information the back and shoulder locations are utilised (via a second interpreter) to provide environmental information and cues.  This can include Audience response, room layout and emotional responses.

Relaxed Environments
For times when the receiver's hands are in use for other reasons (typing on a keyboard for example) then the area of the shoulder/back can be utilised to make simple requests and provide basic information that is neither obtrusive nor requires removing the hands from their preoccupation. 

Social Haptics is being utilised in a number of countries in Europe.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Productivity Commission

There is a commission currently open that is looking into Productivity. the basic concept is to see about people with disabilities in the workplace and in positions of employment. Recently at the National Deafblind Conference it was estimated that approximately 43 billion is lost each year due to hearing impairment alone.

The Australian Deafblind Council is in the process of organising and refining a report for the productivity Commission. As President I will be attending one of the hearings that will be held in Sydney to present our case. I was also present at the inquiry into the Commonwealth, State, Territory Disability Agreement so I have a little experience.

In a recent press release the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) has expressed its support for this upcoming report.

Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope we can achieve something positive from this commission, not just for Deafblind people for the disability setor in general.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I need some Volunteers

As some of you may already know I am working on research as part of my degree at UNSW. The main aim of this research is to look at a portable way for Deafblind individuals to communicate in the general community. This will not be an easy project ut I am hoping to come out with a prototype at the end of things that will simply fit in your pocket and opena new world of communication for the Deafblind Community.

As part of this process I need to interview approximately 5 Deafblind individuals about what theyw ould like in such a device and questions to that extent.

If you would be interested in assisting by partaking in the survey then please contact me or leave a comment.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Date for the Diary

Every year one week is June is set aside as Deafblind Awareness Week. This particular week is recognised Internationally (although sometimes it varies between countries). A lot of Deafblind individuals use this week to celebrate Deafblindness but for advocates it is usually a tough time of trying to target people who require information about the disability. Community Awareness is still a very big issue within this sector.

This year Deafblind Awareness Week is 21st - 27th June. Put this weeka side in your diary folks and make sure you are ready to rumble for the "cause".

Friday, May 14, 2010

Updating the Deafblindness page

I have been doing a little work on updating the page titled "Deafblindness". I am hoping this will become something of a Wiki about Deafblindness. At this stage it is only a brief introduction but at least it's a start. If you have any comments or feel various questions are important o be answered then please email me and I can look at adding or modifying things on this page.
email me

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Are We Employable?

There are a number of Deafblind individuals heading towards the employment sector. Some are nearly completed University degrees while others may have specialty expereince that provides them with unique talents suitable for various jobs. The question of employment raises eyebrows of expectations from the Deafblind community but it is often met with inredulity from the general public. I believe it should not come as any particular shock that Deafblind individuals would like to be part of the workforce and have something genuinely unique to offer the general public in their input.

I don't have a formal solution at this stage but I would like to offer Deafblind invidiauls a starting point for employment prospects and seeking work. They should give you an idea of your rights as someone with disabilities entering the employment sector.

The following are links to partinent pages on disability employment :
Centrelink Disability Emplyment Assistance
Auslan Factsheet - Planning for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Also worth looking into are awards offered to companies in regards to disability employment. A number of companies pride themselves in their equal opportunity employment programs and they may be worth contacting. Even if at first they do not seem of particular interest to your chosen work area. It is always important to build employment Networks of your own.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Looking on the Bright Side

I have been in contact with anumber of people regardin the issue of Mental Health expressed in my last post. As yet i have only had one response but it is a positive one.

Robert has kindly said that he is happy to counsel Deafblind individuals and has had some experience in this area. He is also an accredited interpreter therefore you can miss out on the usual requirement of accessing services via an interpreter and talk directly to him.

You can contact him via his website.

Alternatively you can contact any counselling service and as long as they are a qualified Psychologist you may have access to that service by utilising an interrpeter booked via the National Auslan Booking Service. Although these people may not specialise in Deafblind issues they should be able to help on a general level.

If you are not aware, under Medicare you are entitled to 10 visits a year with a Health Care Plan. Talk to your local General Practitioner for further details.