Today, 6 July 2020, marks 28 years of Hear and Say working to open worlds for families impacted by hearing loss. To celebrate this milestone (and in the absence of our usual shared birthday cake), our founder, Dr Dimity Dornan AO reflects on the past three decades supporting children learning to hear, listen and speak.
“When I first started out, there was just me and six children – no funding or salary, but a lot of hope that children who were significantly deaf/hard of hearing could learn to clearly listen and speak for the first time in history.
Professor Graeme Clark had changed the possibilities for these children when the first child in the world received a cochlear implant in Sydney in 1987. However, things were not moving fast enough for me, given this new advantage of being able to directly access a child’s brain. In 1992 I started to plan for opening a not-for-profit program for children learning to listen and speak in Queensland, and on 6 July that year, Hear and Say was born. At that time, if a child was born in Queensland with a severe, profound or total hearing loss, sign language was the only option as lack of hearing did not allow for clear listening and intelligible spoken language. I was on a mission!
Today things have changed dramatically, and we have reached many milestones over the past 28 years. Hear and Say now cares for some 1,000 children at any one time all round Queensland, with a Telepractice program that can reach every corner of the state and anywhere the internet goes. We have trained professionals in 42 different countries, either in person, in country or online. We have been very persuasive in helping to get newborn hearing screening for every baby born in Queensland. Our audiologists at Hear and Say are amongst the world’s finest, and our Listening and Spoken Language program using Auditory-Verbal Therapy is supervised by around 14 internationally certified professionals and a team of 7 therapists in training who achieve age-appropriate speech and language for the vast majority of children. Importantly, we have also been passionate contributors to global research for the information of parents and professionals everywhere, by taking part in a number of the globally significant landmark studies by the HEARing Co-operative Research Centre of Australia across the past 25 years.
And so, Hear and Say’s message of hope to parents is continuing to reverberate around the world – and we couldn’t have done it without you, our incredible community.”
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops – at all,
– Emily Dickinson