Leah Francis : Finding the Way contents

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LEAH FRANCIS Nee WILSON

Leah became blind as a young baby. She went to school at the (then) NSW Institute for Deaf and Blind Children Here the range of subjects was small and the standard of education low.

Aged sixteen Leah became the first blind student to officially enter a government high school in NSW. Having passed the Leaving Certificate, she was the first blind student to receive a scholarship to a teachers' college in NSW and on gaining a teaching certificate was appointed to the NSW School for blind children. This school was financed and administered by the (then) Department of Education.

In 1958 Leah was awarded the first scholarship in the (then) Rotary district 275 International Student Exchange project, enabling her to undertake post-graduate studies in special education in the United States.

In 1960 Leah obtained the Diploma of College of Teachers of the Blind, London, with a major in music.

Nine years later she graduated with honours in Education from the University of Sydney.

Leah has worked as an early education specialist, a music therapist and in many aspects of special education. For eleven years she co-ordinated the vision specialization at the university of Western Sydney.

With her husband and three sons she lived in Albury and in the Solomon Islands before settling on the Central Coast of NSW. She has left the paid work force but remains active in community work, continuing her commitment to improving conditions for people with disabilities

In the year 2000 Leah was awarded membership of the Order of Australia (AM) for her services to the community, in particular, to students with vision impairments and those with other disabilities.

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