Reef HQ Aquarium is expanding their educational experiences to accommodate special needs groups, such as guests in the deaf community or with a vision impairment.
Our Volunteer Association wanted to reach out to the deaf community in Townsville so they too could share in the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef and learn what actions they could take to protect and conserve the Reef for future generations. The Association received a grant through the Stockland Community Care Grant for $1000. This enabled the Association to sponsor interested volunteers in learning AUSLAN (the sign language of the Australian Deaf community).
Five volunteers completed the 8-week introductory AUSLAN classes through the Deaf Society Townsville.
To expand upon the introductory course and increase the confidence and knowledge base of our volunteers, the below seminars and workshops are planned:
- In late November, a seminar will be held for those volunteers who completed the course and other volunteers who are interested, to learn more about deaf communication and culture, science for the deaf community, and learn marine signs in AUSLAN. Member's of the deaf community will also attend, providing our volunteers a chance to practice and finesse.
- A workshop is being developed with AUSLAN trained marine scientists and AUSLAN tutors so volunteers can learn more marine signs. Initially, our trained volunteers will facilitate tours with the assistance of interpreters.
In late October, four visually impaired members of Vision Australia, and their carers, requested a tour of Reef HQ Aquarium. This posed an interesting challenge for the Reef Education team. The team created a tactile educational experience for the guests using skulls of crocodiles and turtles, snake skin, fish and coral skeletons, crustacean moults and shark jaws. One by one, the guide brought each item to the guests to touch, as he described what they were feeling whilst weaving in educational talking points - you can view a video highlighting some of these talking points and interactions by clicking here).
The experience lasted an hour with the guests expressing their delight at being able to take part. It was a very fulfilling experience for the guests and guide, who described the session as, "a different way of communicating."
Reef HQ Aquarium is slowly expanding their experiences to accommodate special needs groups and deliver our vision; making the reef accessible, while at the same time spreading the reef conservation message and gaining public support for the protection of the 'real thing'.
To make an education booking or to discuss your program needs please contact:
Reef HQ Aquarium Education Team
P: +61 7 4750 0890