The 2015 biennial SPEVI (South Pacific Educators in Vision Impairment) Conference was held at the Melbourne Conference Training Centre from January 12 to 15, 2015. The theme of this year is Together Towards Tomorrow: Families and Professionals – a vision for success, which emphasises the importance of students, families and professionals working together to achieve new goals.
I was pleased and honoured to be able to present my research behind Reach & Match to the educators and specialists in the field of blindness and low vision. I had a chance to share about the reasons why I designed the Reach & Match during my postgraduate research:
- Celebration of Braille – Early braille education is crucial to a child with vision impairment, but how do we encourage them to learn and appreciate Braille?
- Essential Skills for Children with Special Needs – The design provides functional training, which is the first step for disabled children learn alternative skills of independence and also helps them achieve their full productive potential.
- A Social Inclusive Tool – Fun for All!
I shared about the design methodologies that I applied whilst developing Reach & Match, such as:
- marketing research including benchmarking and perceptional diagram in order to understand the opportunity in the market,
- observational analysis research to understand the barriers that children who are blind and with low vision have and enhance to develop their tactile skill, spatial and bodily awareness as well as motor skill, and
- developing different prototypes to test with the clients in order to get the direct feedback to make modifications.
I also mentioned that Reach & Match has begun production, has been successfully applied in schools, clinics and organisations for early intervention & social skill programs, and that our collaboration with other organisations and specialists and tailor made exercises, activities and games for children with different needs is extremely rewarding and exciting.
The Reach & Match was exhibited during these four days, and it was great success that it has received a lot of interest and great feedback from the visitors, including the specialists and educators in the field, such as Dr. Karen Wollfe and Professor Boguslaw (Bob) Marek.
It was an absolute pleasure to share my Reach & Match with Professor Bob Marek, who is the founder of “Hungry Fingers”, a small organisation specialising in designing educational tools for young learners with special needs. He provided us with very encouraging feedback for the inclusive purpose of the design as well as how it would helping bridging the gap for children with varying needs. I was also thrilled to present the design to the Principal Karen Stobbs and the teachers at BLENNZ (Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ), knowing that they will use the Reach & Match to benefit their students. I look forward to collaborating with the teachers further on the applications of Reach & Match.
The conference has offered me a wide range of opportunities for knowledge sharing and networking and it was also a great success for Reach & Match being well accepted among the organisations and institutions, I look forward to the next SPEVI in two years time!