This project developed an ‘Auslan Hub’ and Community of Practice to test various methods of improving access to Auslan information and services across Queensland. Four techniques were tested: Teaching Auslan at home to parents and families, providing teletherapy to people at a distance, setting up kiosk sites in community centres for providing Auslan Video Remote Interpreting and Deaf Awareness Training to NDIA and related staff in the Queensland roll-out areas.
The transition to the NDIS has significantly raised expectations of the Deaf community that they will have access to Auslan delivered services, irrespective of where they live. For the Deaf community, limited access to these services is not only due to geographical distance but also to shortages of qualified workers, including Auslan users, even near city centres. Being part of a thin market means access to specialised services is inequitable and inconsistent.
Deaf Services Queensland (DSQ) has been unable to meet demand for therapy interventions in regional, rural and remote areas. In addition, DSQ’s information and service provision is hampered by a shortage of local of interpreters. As a result, there has been significant unmet need in the areas of awareness raising, interpreters and specialised speech therapy interventions, particularly in in regional, rural and remote areas.
Under the Innovative Workforce Fund, DSQ designed an ‘Auslan Hub’ to test various methods of improving access to information and services in Auslan across Queensland. The Hub also has the potential to facilitate virtual speech therapy, the loaning of iPads for Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), virtual Auslan Kiosks, Auslan classes, virtual Support Coordination and virtual Deafness Awareness Training to stakeholders.
<span style="font-size:12px"><span style="font-family:"Arial",sans-serif">The initial project concept was ambitious (across six service areas) and across the state on a small amount of money and of time. Given the constraints or money and time, this was a developmental groundwork project where time was spent preparing the soil before delivery to ensure success in delivery. This meant everything from recruiting partners to restructuring our IT department, training staff, hosting community launches and negotiating platform changes with the developer. All tests worked to some extent, but were hampered by slowness from partners, technological failures and staff shortages.</span></span>
This project successfully developed a kiosk service in Bundaberg, delivered Deafness Awareness Training in Bundaberg, commenced Auslan II training via virtual circuit (VC) to students in Mackay, commenced Auslan at Home, scheduled delivery of the iPad Scheme and commenced Virtual Therapy. Through the course of the project, it was recognised that capacity building is better supported through developing communities of practice around virtual service delivery, regardless of service type.