Shirley achieves her goals with support from RIDBC

28/01/16
Shirley achieves her goals with support from RIDBCShirley is grateful for the support she received from RIDBC Thomas Pattison School and for the confidence and direction it gave her.

Three years after Min and Steven immigrated to Australia from China their daughter, Shirley, was born. Diagnosed as profoundly deaf when she was a month old, the family began receiving support from RIDBC. Now 24, Shirley is a university graduate who was recently selected to be the Australian Youth Representative at the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section.

Shirley’s hearing loss was unexpected news to her parents, and the cause of the hearing loss remains unknown.

"They really didn't know how they were going to raise a deaf child,” said Shirley. "Fortunately they were referred to RIDBC and began receiving home-visits to learn how to communicate with me.”

At two and a half years of age, Shirley began attending RIDBC Roberta Reid Preschool, before going on to attend RIDBC Thomas Pattison School. Both services offer support to children who are profoundly deaf and bi-lingual – communicating in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and English.

"My parents were determined to support me to have a great life and access to education," said Shirley. "When I was young, I used hearing aids but I eventually made the decision to stop wearing them. I disliked the sounds and used to get migraines - I was happy using Auslan.

"I was so grateful for the support I received from RIDBC at this time. I had access to teachers who could use Auslan and they made sure I received the highest quality education. I felt included, safe and comfortable.”

Now Shirley is 23 years old and has completed a Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication) from Western Sydney University.

"RIDBC prepared me for my future,” said Shirley. “From day one, RIDBC’s teachers provided such incredible role models. With their unlimited support I was able to go on and achieve in further education.”

Shirley was recently selected to be the Australian Youth Representative at the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (WFDYS), attending the WFDYS Youth Camp in Istanbul, Turkey.

"It was great to meet so many deaf people from around the world at the camp," said Shirley. "I learnt a lot about diversity and different cultures."

Shirley also attended the WFDYS Youth General Assembly as the Australian delegate and was elected to the board of WFDYS alongside six other young people from around the world.

"I am looking forward to learning new experiences, refining my leadership skills and working towards the goal of equity for deaf people," said Shirley.

"My design degree gave me an extra perspective on life. I believe the problems deaf people face in communicating with the 'hearing world' actually reveal real opportunities for creative solutions. I am really passionate about young people and the world of design and would love to combine these two interests!

"I really want to see young, deaf people benefit from access to high quality education, strong support systems, and strong language development. I want to encourage young people to explore their options rather than limit themselves."  

Shirley is grateful for the support she received from RIDBC Thomas Pattison School and for the confidence and direction it gave her.

"I want to say 'thank you' a million times over to RIDBC for the support and guidance I have received,” said Shirley.

"I love playing sports, especially basketball, Oztag and netball. I am always interested in learning more about design. I am always looking for new challenges. I also love travelling – I recently visited 12 countries and 19 cities in three months!

“RIDBC Thomas Pattison School went above and beyond to provide me with the support I needed. This support has meant I have been able to go on and achieve anything I set my mind to."