An academic degree in linguistics, followed by a professional career in communication and PR set me up for the work I do for Sonokids. I gained extensive experience in writing for and professional communication with children. I embraced the Internet early on, with the vision that the Internet offers great opportunities, as long as everybody's special needs are taken into account. I was engaged as the web moderator of an online children's-magazine in Europe, published an Internet Newspaper for children and managed and moderated several internet projects for KennisNet (KnowledgeNet), the Dutch Ministery of Education's webportal. In 2001 I co-founded Sonokids Foundation in the Netherlands, together with John Norgaard. I further specialized in web accessibility and technology use by children with special needs, in particular those with little or no vision. After moving to Queensland, Australia, I founded Sonokids Australia and continued the work, building new networks, and gaining national and international recognition for Sonokids projects.
Proud moment for Sonokids and me: Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull watches the big screen presentation of Ballyland - 2016 National Disability Awards Ceremony in Parliament House, Canberra
I feel strongly about equal access to education and I am an advocate for Inclusive Design to ensure that all children can play and learn together. I am a member of the Regional Disability Advisory Council to the Queensland Minister for Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and I am a Board member of South Pacific Educators in Vision Impairment Inc. From 2014-2015 I have undertaken research in a part-time PhD study at James Cook University into Early computer interaction by young children who are blind.
Sonokids' projects are my passion. The best reward is the smile on the face of a young child that experiences freedom and empowerment, while exploring new technologies through Sonokids' unique programs. Technology skills are essential for success in a child's social life, education and future employment. Finding ways to support the development of these skills in children with special needs is a challenge, but to me, being a part of this challenge is the best thing in the world.
Phia (right) pictured with Nine News anchor Eva Milic in the studio for the recording of the RadaR audioplay.