Hi, I’m Kristi Sproates and I live in a tiny town coastal called Tathra in NSW. Most of you would not know me but I did virtually participate (via Skype) in a DE meeting two weeks ago. In early 2015, I completed the Degree of Bachelor of Disability and Developmental Education (Hons) at Flinders University. For six years I studied as an external and interstate student. This degree really appealed to me and considering I live in a rural area. The chance to complete a degree on-line whilst working and raising a family was in one way ‘completely insane’ but in other ways it was a flexible and do-able arrangement which led to an amazing accomplishment. I had wonderful support from my husband and teenagers, plus I worked at a disability service who allowed me to have flexible working arrangements, as needed.
Since graduation, my skills and qualifications were recognised within my work place and a new position was created as an ‘educator’ which I was offered. Predominately, my role is to organise and/or facilitate staff development and training. My honours research topic was ‘Use of iPads for communication with an adult who has complex communication needs in the community’. The skills and knowledge gained enabled me to develop a short course/program that is outcome based to ‘Develop iPad skills’ for the clients who access the service and wished to learn new skills. The focus was improving communication and participation outcomes whilst learning new skills.
In anticipation of the full NDIS rollout in the area where I live (Southern NSW), I choose to begin my own small business ‘Appy Connections. As a sole trader who also has a ‘real’ job, the business is still in its infancy. The aim is to educate and provide support and training to people with disabilities, their carers and or the community in the use of mobile technologies such as iPads to meet their communication needs and in turn increase their participation in their environments of choice. I was successful in obtaining a funded community inclusion project grant and ran it through my business.
The most exciting news, I’d like to share about me is that ‘Appy Connections has recently been approved as a registered provider of the NDIA to deliver “Therapeutic Supports’ (including assistive technology). According to the NDIA papers: Therapeutic supports – assists the participant to gain skills and improve independence related to identified needs in areas such as language and communication, personal care, mobility and movement, interpersonal interactions, community living to support positive changes in the person’s functioning, development and well-being.
I am ‘over the moon’ with this result because I had been hoping and wishing for this type of outcome but until It was official I remained unsure. I would like to sincerely ‘thank’ the DEAI committee and any others who lobbied and worked with the government, so that DE’s could be recognized as ‘Professionals’. Even though we are not on their official list ‘yet’. I am proof that we are on their books. I encourage others if interested to apply and to believe that despite the hurdles and the daunting registration process – it is probably not as bad as you think.