Aug 2017 Blue Mountains Gazette
At 23, former Springwood resident Emily Quinn Smyth has relished the opportunity to influence parliamentarians and shape the future for deaf people. Ms Quinn Smyth, who is profoundly deaf and received a cochlear implant at age two, was one of six deaf young people who spoke in Parliament in August on the theme ‘assuring the future for people with hearing loss.’
Raising awareness: Emily Quinn Smyth addressing parliamentarians in August.
As she has had a cochlear implant for most of her life, Ms Quinn Smyth did not learn to sign using Auslan, and has only recently started learning the language. She’s since discovered there are no signs for scientific words and she would like to see this change. “Words like climate change you have to spell out,” she said. “I’d love to make it possible for more deaf people to get involved in science.” In her speech before parliament she pressed for funding to raise awareness of this oversight and get native speakers involved to create new signs.
Ms Quinn Smyth has a Bachelors of Science and Arts, and is currently studying for her Masters in Science (Research). She has moved to Sydney and works at the University of Technology Sydney as a teaching associate in the science faculty. “I’m passionate about the environment and issues. I’m really interested in communicating science,” she said. “All the conversations that are happening at the moment [around climate change etc], a person that’s deaf is missing out on lots of ideas.”
Attending St Thomas Aquinas and then Blue Mountains Grammar, Ms Quinn Smyth said she was given additional support in school, but it wasn’t easy in the early years picking up sounds with the cochlear implant.
“You have to learn how to listen and teach the brain how to receive the signals,” said the graduate of the Shepherd Centre, where she learned to pick up sounds. Dr Jim Hungerford, CEO of The Shepherd Centre, said each of the six speakers are living proof of the outstanding achievements possible for people with hearing loss. “These remarkable young Australians truly are testament to the value of early intervention when it comes to giving deaf young adults the very best chance at life,” he said. “People deserve to have equal opportunities to make their dreams come true, regardless of disability.”