We would like to extend our congratulations to Patricia d’Apice (1973) who has received an Australia Day Honour for service to education of people with vision impairment.
Tricia has been awarded a Medal of the Order (OAM) which recognizes Australians who have demonstrated outstanding service or exceptional achievement. Tricia is the niece of Sister Mary D’Apice RSCJ dec (1939) and was nominated for this award by one of her 12 year old visually impaired students.
Tricia is a Senior Consultant and Teacher in Vision impairment at the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC). In 2021, RIDBC services were aligned under a single brand – Next Sense – to ensure the continuation of the provision of integrated, holistic care in the fields of hearing and vision loss. Next Sense is Australia’s largest non-government provider of education, therapy and cochlear implant services for children and adults with vision or hearing loss, their families and professionals who support them. Thomas Patterson opened the very first school for deaf and blind children in 1860 and Next Sense has been redefining possibilities for Australians with hearing and vision loss for over 160 years. Tricia has worked at Next Sense for 15 years.
In recent years, Tricia and her team have been assessing existing Braille literacy rates of students across Australia. As there was limited empirical information about students’ braille reading rates, Tricia conducted an extensive survey and study of literacy involving both students and staff members. The data retrieved and analysed was compared with the rate that has been established in sighted students, according to their age. As hypothesised, braille readers were generally slower than the reading rates of their sighted peers. Tricia found that parents of sighted children often invest time and money into their children’s literacy, and that this was not always possible for parents of a child who is blind. Additionally, braille books are rarely, if ever, available at bookstores or local libraries and parents rarely know the braille code.
To address this need, Tricia developed dAp Dots. Named after Tricia, dAp dots is a collection of braille books and braille resources that allow parents, caregivers and teachers to learn the braille code along with their braille reading children. They are designed to provide an effective foundation to braille literacy for parents and children. There are a range of “print at home” books available ranging from personalized “experience books” for preschool children, to story books and curriculum books. The book files can be downloaded and printed via 3D printable braille resources available at most local print stores including Officeworks. The high quality, literary resources created are only available due to Tricia’s decades of knowledge and expertise around the needs of children and their parents in learning braille.
Although the dAp Dots program is in its infancy, many children, educators and families are benefiting from the program as they learn and develop skills in the braille code. We look forward to learning more from Tricia about the positive impact the dAp Dots program is having for visually impaired individuals throughout Australia.
Congratulations Tricia on being acknowledged and recognized for your many years of research, education and effort !