Vicdeaf acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.
Conexu's Techfinder website is now 'live'
Help for deaf Aussies now only a click away
26 October 2015
More than 1.5 million deaf and hard of hearing Australians who face communication barriers are unaware that new technology could dramatically improve their situation.
However, the launch of a unique new website by national non-profit organisation Conexu Foundation may enable them to communicate more effectively.
Techfinder.org.au will provide a one-stop hub for people who are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired to learn about new technology and discover from experts and their peers what products may best help them.
Conexu Chief Strategy Officer Rachel McKay said one in six Australians is affected by hearing loss but surveys show half of them are unaware of the myriad tech products and communication tools that could help – or are simply overwhelmed by the constantly evolving technology now available.
“Difficulties in communicating can affect every aspect of a person’s life – learning, working and socialising,” Ms McKay said.
“We’ve spoken to many people who’ve said technology can make an amazing difference but our research has shown many are unaware of what is available or unsure how it might help.
“Because we have relationships with experts at the cutting edge of technology around the world, we can provide the latest information.
“The website was designed to respond to what people told us was important for them day to day. I urge people to log on, have a look and share their experience with others, as it might change lives.”
Since losing her hearing virtually overnight, technology has played a huge role in eight-year-old Zara Kelly’s education and social life.
Zara, a year three student at the Victorian College for the Deaf, was diagnosed with a condition called enlarged vestibular aqueduct syndrome (EVAS) in 2011.
“We found out very quickly that technology would be an important part of Zara’s life,” explained her mother, Mai Bryant-Kelly.
“Fortunately, she has embraced it and now has cochlear bilateral implants which, combined with Auslan, have made a big difference.”
Zara and her mother have already checked out Techfinder.
“Techfinder makes sense as products and software are evolving so quickly,” Ms Bryant-Kelly said.
“We need to understand what options are available. I’ve seen first-hand that choosing the right supports has been crucial for Zara’s development.”
Technology has played a massive role in helping little Harry Banks communicate with his family.
The four-year-old suffered a traumatic brain injury in a fall when he was just 11 months old, damaging his sense of balance and leaving him unable to speak.
However, using an iPad installed with a Pragmatically Organised Dynamic Display app, the Adelaide toddler is able to communicate by tapping on-screen symbols which ‘speak’ for him.
His mother, Michaela Banks, said the technology had made a “phenomenal difference” to Harry’s life.
“It has given Harry a voice. He can talk to us, to his friends – he talks to everyone. He’s a really social little boy,” Mrs Banks said.
A post written by Mrs Banks on the plusses and pitfalls of technology, entitled ‘Device Indecisiveness’, is featured on the Techfinder website.
“We were fortunate enough to have good advice, but understanding the technology available can be a minefield,” she said.
“Many parents just don’t know what they’re looking for, which is why the support of the new website will be invaluable.”
For Dan Jarvis, who has been deaf since contracting meningitis as a baby, technology is an integral part of his life – at work, at home and socially.
“Technology is a great enabler as it allows the Deaf and hearing impaired to lead independent lives and not have to rely on the support of others,” Mr Jarvis said.
He is one of the first people in Australia to use Techfinder.
“It’s really useful to have one online site which brings together information and ideas, and allows you to share with others in the deaf community” he said.
“I’ve got no doubt it will become well used.”
Ms McKay said focus groups had made Techfinder both useful and user-friendly.
“We wanted to make sure the site was relevant, useful and accessible so we worked closely with community members to make the site as engaging and searchable as possible,” she said.
The site features product reviews, tech resources, blogs, forums, how-to guides and video tutorials.
An animated version with text is found here:
As you know, Conexu has created Techfinder.org.au to be a go-to resource for information on communication technology for people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, speech and communication impaired. Today is just the start beginning for Techfinder, the articles, resources and videos will continue to grow – we’ll be adding more every week.
Colin Allen’s (President of World Federation of the Deaf) vlog (video story) about how he uses technology -
Rebecca’s blog (story) about the MusicMatch app – you into music, then this is for you – http://techfinder.org.au/blog/why-i-musixmatch
Haydn’s story about the Go Theatrical app - http://techfinder.org.au/resource-centre/techfinder-favourite-go-theatrical
Zara’s story about communication support
Don’t forget to subscribe so you can get regular updates - http://techfinder.org.au/subscribe