Lil’s Education and Work History
Teaching high school
I started grown-up life teaching home economics, health and social science in Tasmanian district high schools (Bachelor of Education, University of Tasmania, 1992). I taught for two years, but found I enjoyed the kids, the social engagement, and the learning far more than The System. Next, I coordinated an after school child-care program and studied Pastoral Care through the Uniting Church.
I married young, tripped over the O&M profession, and Garry and I moved to Melbourne in 1992 where I completed an intensive one-year professional preparation program (Graduate Diploma in Orientation and Mobility, La Trobe University, 1993).
Working as an O&M specialist at Guide Dogs Victoria meant delivering intensive client training programs in the client residence, offering itinerant client services in metro Melbourne, and making monthly regional visits to work with clients in and around Bendigo, Echuca and Shepparton. I loved the freedom to engage in person-centred teaching, and work with clients when, where, and how it suited them to learn.
My work with Guide Dogs Victoria gave me the opportunity to gain more expertise in:
- Acquired brain injury and neurological vision conditions
- Children’s O&M
- Multiple disabilities and low vision/blindness
I had two daughters and our family spent three years in Tasmania 1998-2000 with grandparent support for early parenting. Phew!
While in Devonport, I worked part time for Guide Dogs Tasmania.
I also trained to become a tutor in Adult Literacy and Basic Education. I realised that as a teacher and an extrovert, I loved being the centre of attention, and the buzz in the room. I like moving with individuals or groups towards the Aha! moment. I like working away at knotty learning problems – finding the threshold concepts for a learner that open doors to new realms of knowledge and delight. I am an agent of transformation, and this feels like work worth doing.
Teaching at university
Back in Melbourne from 2001, I returned to work as an O&M specialist at Guide Dogs Victoria.
With colleagues, I completed a Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment (ASCET TAFE, 2006). This taught me more about the parallel stream of tertiary education in Australia, and the ways that universities and the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector come together in the Australian Qualifications Framework.
I wanted to have a hand in shaping the new generation of O&M Specialists. This opportunity arose through a long-term partnership between GDV and La Trobe University. I worked with colleagues to write and deliver a Graduate Diploma in O&M between 2008-2011.
Masters project – Scooter research
Lecture preparation gave me a taste for further study, so I completed a Master of Education (Monash University, 2013). My minor thesis took me into the world of scooter travel with low vision. I realised the need for functional vision measures that work in dynamic environments, that can be used by O&M specialists during ordinary O&M assessments.
PhD project – Bionic vision research
During this time, vision professionals from the Bionic Vision Australia project approached Guide Dogs Victoria to learn more about O&M outcome measures. They were looking for ways to evaluate the functional outcomes of a bionic eye prototype. I seized the opportunity to undertake a PhD in functional vision research (University of Melbourne, 2016). The most valuable outcome of that project was the VROOM and OMO tools that can be used in ordinary O&M assessment to measure a client’s functional vision and mobility.
Since completing my doctorate, I have partnered with multiple people and organisations to teach people to use the VROOM and OMO tools. I undertake O&M research, publish, and teach O&M students and professionals.
I work with the O&M Association of Australasia, to advance the O&M profession locally. I also work with the ACVREP COMS Subject Matter Expert Committee to advance the O&M profession internationally.