Government Funding – the MSSD Program

 

In the last edition of LiveWire for Education we brought you news of how Education Queensland had used funding provided through the More Support for Students with Disabilities (MSSD) initiative, to provide District Licences of JAWS and MAGic software to support students with low vision and blind students across all Queensland state schools.

 

This month we would like to highlight another application of MSSD funding, this time in Victoria through the Statewide Vision Resource Centre (SVRC). It is very exciting to see MSSD funding bringing such tangible and practical outcomes for teachers and students.

 

MSSD funding was provided by the Federal Government to each State, though each state has chosen to use the funds in different ways.

 

Under the MSSD National Partnership program, one of the strategies being implemented in Victorian Government Schools is “Vision Assistive Technology and Teacher Training” initiative.

 

During 2012-13, approximately 1000 items of new equipment – braille embossers, braille note-takers, scanners, iPads etc – were deployed across the state to improve access to information for eligible students with vision impairments. Teacher training was also made available through this funding.

 

This is possibly the largest and most systematic deployment of assistive technology within a defined geographic region in Australian history! It has also been a huge planning and logistical undertaking by SVRC, a task that they have acquitted magnificently.

 

For the VI itinerant teachers in the field it has made a dramatic impact on the tools and resources they have available. For students, it has meant every vision impaired student in Victoria is able to access a range of options to meet their technology needs.

 

Kingsvale PS is a good example of how new assistive technology has been deployed.

 

Picture of Carmel Cooper and Kim Cassidy are using some newly acquired technology

 

In the picture above Carmel Cooper and Kim Cassidy are using some newly acquired technology. In the foreground is the Romeo Pro50 Braille embosser, which is connected to a laptop. There is also a Pearl digital camera attached to the same laptop which has both OpenBook and Duxbury software programs on it.  On the desk is a PIAF for making tactile diagrams. Additionally the student they are supporting has a BrailleNote note-taker.

 

Training and installation were provided by Trevor Boyd of our Melbourne office.

 

With this set up they now have the flexibility to scan any hard copy document, or take any electronic document, and to convert them into any format the student may require.

 

With these tools;

– Teachers are so much more productive

– They spend a lot less administrative time applying for products and funding

– There is no waiting to get the tools the students need

 

In Victoria, assistive technology is now readily available to the people that need it!

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