SPONSORED STORY - Allyson Smith has been Deaf since infancy and recently moved from her lifelong home of Brisbane to Burketown, a tiny outback town in Queensland of just over 200 people, accompanying her husband, who had taken a position there as police sergeant. If that wasn’t enough of a life disruption, no one in Burketown had ever met a Deaf person.
Despite quickly becoming a valued member of the town as a teacher aide, Allyson still faced isolation both geographically and culturally due to a lack of communication support in Auslan.
Allyson connected with Deaf Services after attending a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) information session and got in touch to see how they could work with her.
Deaf Services delivers access to Auslan (Australian Sign Language) anywhere it’s needed, connecting and empowering the Deaf community through their primary language.
“I had no idea about the NDIS,” Allyson says. “I contacted Deaf Services and they have been so wonderful.”
With the help of a dedicated Service Access Facilitator, Allyson was able to apply for and receive assistive technology for her home and workplace such as visual alarm lights and increased home security.
“There was nothing at the school to assist a Deaf person,” she says. “Now it’s fantastic. There are flashing lights for the school bell, fire alarms and lockdown. Many of the kids appreciate the visual cues as well.”
Allyson also receives a range of NDIS supports, including regular sessions via Video Remote Access (VRI) technology, as well as language training for her husband.
It has been the access to live Auslan interpreters, however, that has most changed Allyson’s life.
“For so long I never had any interpreters,” she says. “I didn’t know how to approach them or how to pay. Now I can ask for an interpreter for anything.”
Recently, Deaf Services facilitated an Auslan interpreter to fly in from nearly 800km away to attend a gala police dinner in honour of Allyson’s husband.
“I was so excited,” Allyson says. “It was fantastic. I was so relieved. Usually, my husband has to stay by my side and interpret what people are saying. This allowed him to have a break and enjoy his night.
“I talked with so many people I wouldn’t usually get a chance to. I’d never had that experience before. I’ve always struggled. This was just fantastic. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.”
“Deaf Services supported me through the whole process and it’s been invaluable. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it. I’m so appreciative."