BY MICHELLE CARNOVALE
THE founder of a new blind school has criticised the State Government’s decision to give $9.2 million for a deaf training institute while ignoring the plight of vision-impaired children.
Alan Lachman, who has lobbied the State Government for two years for $2.2 million to complete Victoria’s only blind school in Glen Waverley, last week reacted angrily to the announcement and accused Premier John Brumby of “prejudice”.
“We certainly applaud any investment in the deaf,” Mr Lachman said.
“But the blind get nothing. I don’t understand it.”
Vision Australia closed the only blind school in Victoria in 2008, saying vision-impaired children should be mainstream-schooled instead.
Since then Mr Lachman, whose grade 2 daughter Francesca is blind, has campaigned to open a full-time specialised school for those vision-impaired students struggling in regular classrooms.
Minister for Children Maxine Morand, who announced the funding, said in a written statement the Victorian Deaf Education Institute would provide courses and training for deaf education teachers.
“Deaf and hearing-impaired students face a range of unique challenges and it takes a special group of inspiring and dedicated teachers to understand these challenges and cater to their learning needs,” Ms Morand said.
“About 3000 Victorian school-aged children have a diagnosed hearing loss and it’s important that they have every opportunity to maximise their potential.”
But Mr Lachman said the State Government’s lack of support was hindering blind students from reaching their potential.
“Why is there a prejudice in supporting blind kids in terms of education to give parents a choice?” Mr Lachman said.
“It’s not like one system works and one doesn’t. We’re trying to help as many kids as possibly to reach independence, self-fulfilment and self-esteem.”
The State Government did not respond to Leader’s questions.