The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Sarawak Subsection in collaboration with the Sarawak Society for the Blind (SSB), two professional development workshops on “Low vision and blindness – functional issues” and “Multiple disabilities and low vision/blindness” were completed successfully on February 6 2018 at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus.
According the organiser of the workshops, Assoc Prof Lau Bee Theng who is also the chair for IEEE Sarawak Subsection, faculty at Swinburne Sarawak and Melbourne campuses have been collaborating in research on orientation and mobility, smart technologies relating to people with low vision or blindness since 2016.
Based on the discussions with main stakeholders from societies representing the people with low vision or blindness, there is a lack of orientation and mobility specialists and training in Malaysia. Dr Lil Deverell, who ran the workshops, is an orientation and mobility specialist from Melbourne, Australia, and the project manager for Swinburne’s orientation and mobility research team.
Prior to the workshops in Kuching, her team also conducted a three-day workshop in collaboration with National Council for the Blind in Kuala Lumpur in January 2018. The workshops in Kuching attracted 56 participants who are optometrists, physiotherapists, professional and special educators in public sectors like university, community rehabilitation centres, schools, hospitals and private practitioners.
The workshops provided participants with information about functional vision, mobility training, and assistive technology available, as well as supervised experiences travelling with low vision or blindness, that will inform their professional practice and research.
The workshops have been highly commended by the participants for the importance and relevance to the needs of society here, and enquired for more of these trainings to be available in Sarawak in future.