Community & Business

19 November, 2022

Life changing connection

From silence to hearing aids that answer the phone – how the NDIS helped change Christine’s life.

NDIS participant Christine Wright with her amplification devices that have enriched and changed her life.
NDIS participant Christine Wright with her amplification devices that have enriched and changed her life.


MAREEBA local Christine Wright is no stranger to overcoming adversity, having experienced deteriorating hearing loss her whole life, but with the support of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Mission Australia and NDIS provider ITEC, the 68-year-old has experienced a new level of connectivity.

The former special education and advisory teacher contracted measles at two months of age and interestingly, Christine didn’t know this was the cause of her deafness until discovering personal records on her mother’s passing 10 years ago.

From a young age, Christine loved learning and did very well at school with supportive teachers, small class sizes and personal strategies.

“I knew from a young age that I needed to be up the front of the class and in the line of sight of teachers,” she said.

Christine’s hearing loss was not formally diagnosed until Year 4 through a routine school health check.

On successfully completing secondary education Christine was awarded a teaching scholarship however, following a mandatory medical examination, the scholarship was rescinded as she was deemed medically unfit due to hearing loss and didn’t meet the strict criteria for acceptance into teacher training.

Sometime later Christine reapplied to study teaching with the support of the Deaf Society and two years into her studies, the criteria were amended and she applied for employment with the Queensland Department of Education.

Christine subsequently enjoyed a long and successful career as a special education and advisory teacher, a job she loved right up until retirement.

Prior to the NDIS, Christine self-funded her hearing aids and an amplification device at great cost but experienced significant communication difficulties due to interference from background noise, particularly in social/family contexts.

Christine said the biggest challenges for a person with hearing loss was that it’s an “invisible disability” – it is generally not detectable until a person starts to speak and/or expresses difficulties hearing.

“It is extremely challenging with compromised hearing to feel a part of what’s going on around you and the constant struggles to follow and contribute to conversations can take a toll on a person’s mental health,” she said.

“It’s very easy to become isolated and disconnected because of communication difficulties.”

Christine decided to seek access to the NDIS as she wanted support to remain connected to family, friends and community including her seven grandchildren.

After being granted NDIS access, Christine was able to buy new hearing aids which better suited her particular type of hearing loss.

Christine also uses her NDIS funding to access regular speech pathology sessions which she says have been a game-changer and given her a greater understanding of her hearing issues and resultant support needs.

“The speech pathology sessions have given me greater awareness around how I actually speak including how I am making sounds because I can’t hear them,” she said.

“I also learned that I spoke very quickly because I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious about the way I spoke and was always in a hurry to finish talking.

“I am now more conscious when speaking, for example, I speak much more slowly and focus on articulation of sounds – as a result of the extensive therapy I have received, my self-confidence has improved and I am so much happier now.”

On the recommendation of her audiologist, Christine used her NDIS funding to purchase a wireless portable tabletop amplification device almost three years ago.

It automatically selects the direction of the speaker and provides the best clarity to improve greater speech understanding when there is loud noise – she also purchased a smaller wireless amplifier which clips to her clothing.

“This device has been a godsend and I don’t know what I would do without it,” Christine said

“I can now go to social gatherings and with the mic placed on the table in front of me, I can hear everything that’s being said and actively participate whereas before I would withdraw into ‘listening mode’ or not attend as I could only hear a fraction of conversations.”

Christine said since gaining access to the NDIS, the support from Mareeba-based Mission Australia NDIS local area coordinators had been excellent.

“Having the support of such an experienced local area coordinator as Eleanor Gilkerson from Mission Australia’s Mareeba Service Centre has made all the difference in maximising the benefits of having NDIS funding and dealing with any challenges that arise,” she said.

Christine is also extremely appreciative of the support she receives from her NDIS-funded service provider, speech pathologistand audiologist who all work together to provide high quality support.

“My main priority is to be able to stay connected to my grandchildren and to continue to be an important and present part of their lives,” she said.

Christine loves going camping with friends and previously relied on her hearing aids and lip reading as she was scared to take her expensive amplification devices away.

After dark and not being able to lip read, Christine often excused herself and went to bed early as she had difficulty hearing conver-sations but felt upset about missing out on valuable time with her friends, which with the help of NDIS, has now all changed.


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