Dr Elizabeth Levesque, General Manager, Victorian Deaf Education Institute, celebrating 10 years of supporting students who are deaf or hard of hearing
- Tell us a bit about the Victorian Deaf Education Institute
The Victorian Deaf Education Institute (VDEI), in Melbourne Australia, was established by the Victorian Department of Education and Training in 2011 to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing students access a full and rewarding education. The institute enacts this commitment through evidence-based teaching practices that promote inclusion, enrich learning opportunities, and improve educational outcomes. VDEI’s strategic priorities focus on strengthening the knowledge and practice of specialist educators and we’re proud to be a centre of expertise in the inclusive education space. We design and deliver high-calibre professional learning, engage in innovative research, and use state-of-the-art technology to provide a wide range of online professional learning courses, webinars, and digital resources that we host on the Inclusive Education Professional Learning platform.
- What is your role at VDEI?
My role is General Manager of the VDEI which is part of the Inclusive Education Professional Practice Branch. I lead a highly specialised team that ensures that our Institute continues to play an important role in supporting leading practice in deaf education. Our team has expertise in digital technology, deaf education and project management and has developed strong partnerships with key stakeholders in the deaf and inclusive education space, including schools, peak bodies and research institutions. My VDEI role also involves collaborating and partnering with national and international colleagues to engage in projects and initiatives that benefit deaf and hard of hearing students, their educators and communities.
- Can you tell us a little about the unique design of the VDEI logo?
The VDEI logo signifies the diverse needs of children regardless of their level of hearing loss, communication mode, cultural or educational environment. The colour and shape of the logo change and move to reflect innovation, pushing technological boundaries and promoting openness to new ideas. The fluid motion of the logo promotes the notion of continual learning and change, connectedness, and bringing together a local and global network of skills and expertise in an environment of community, diversity, dynamism, energy, and positivity. The bright orange tones were chosen to signify hope and bright futures.
- In your view, what are some of the challenges facing students who are deaf or hard of hearing? How does VDEI help students overcome these challenges?
Despite significant advances in technology, deaf and hard of hearing students continue to face numerous challenges due to the impact of deafness on their communication, language, learning and wellbeing. VDEI plays an important role in identifying these challenges and provides a range of resources and initiatives to strengthen the practice of the deaf and inclusive education workforce who support more than 5,000 deaf students in Victoria. These supports include the provision of captioning for educational materials and professional learning resources, and the development of frameworks that identify the competencies of specialist staff such as Auslan Educational Interpreters and Auslan language teachers, in our Victorian schools.
- What are some of the things you’re most passionate about (in either work or life generally)?
I have had a long career in the deaf education field and my passion continues to be supporting and advocating for children who are deaf or deafblind/multisensory impaired. I would like to think that the work we’re currently doing in deaf education will foster truly inclusive schools and communities who understand the support needs of deaf and hard of hearing children.