Deaf/Hard of Hearing Adults: the benefits of involvement in our screening to intervention systems

Ms Sally Webster1, Mr Julian Scharf1, Mr Dean Barton-Smith1

1Deaf Children Australia, Stafford, QLD, Australia

Deaf/Hard of Hearing adults: the benefits of involvement in our screening to intervention systems
For more than five years now, deaf and hard of hearing adults have been working with families in support roles via the Life Stories Program, sharing their experiences and journeys with families whose children are newly diagnosed or experiencing challenges. It has become evident that, in addition to providing valued support to families, the programs are developing a valuable resource – mentors to future mentors. Here, the reflections of mentors upon their own experiences and the impact that working for the Life Stories Program has had on them will be shared.

Following Professor Christie Yoshinaga-Itano’s Libby Harricks Memorial Oration at the 2015 Australasian Newborn Hearing Screening Conference, Dean Barton-Smith will explore the importance of deaf and hard of hearing role models in our early identification and intervention systems.  What do deaf/hard of hearing adults have to offer families and how do we increase family contact with a diverse range of adults leading rewarding and successful lives with hearing loss?


Sally Webster currently works with Education Qld, and has a background in employment services and teaching Auslan to families. An active member of the Deaf community, Sally has participated in a number of Deaflympics. Sally has a severe to profound bilateral hearing loss from meningitis at age 18 months, and is the only deaf member of her family.

Julian Scharf studied materials engineering and has been recognised internationally for his work on the Air Warfare Destroyer. Currently a software developer for global technology company Thoughtworks, he is happily married with two young children. Julian’s hearing loss was first suspected at age 3, but only diagnosed at age 8. His moderate to severe bilateral loss, thought to be CMV related, has since progressed to a profound loss and he now uses a cochlear implant.

Dean Barton-Smith AM is Deaf Children Australia’s Chief Executive Officer. Dean has previously held several leadership roles and has represented Australia at the Commonwealth, Olympic and Deaflympic Games. In 2013, he received the Member of Order of Australia Award (AM) for services to athletics / community and for advancing sport and recreational opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people. Dean’s hearing loss was diagnosed at the age of 2. He has a profound bilateral loss, and is the only deaf member of his family.