Many people face life-altering circumstances that can sometimes be devastating, but the right support can make these changes transformational. Becoming part of a community can help someone reshape their sense of identity and show them that they are not alone. Deaf Can:Do helped Nicola Ettridge connect with the right people, and language, when she needed it most – and we are grateful to her for sharing her story with you today.
Please read on as we proudly share how, together, we have been able to change lives thanks to your support.
Nicola’s hearing loss came as a sudden shock. She was only 22 years old with a promising career unfolding before her when a simple mosquito bite resulted in deafness. After losing her hearing following a bout of Ross River Fever, her world turned upside down.
Nicola recalls, “It was a really hard time for me because I could no longer communicate. It wasn’t just because I had lost my hearing, but because I was so isolated, and couldn’t express how I was feeling. My family and friends no longer knew how to include me and my workplace was no longer safe for me. I completely lost my sense of identity.”
Nicola couldn’t use hearing aids due to her profound hearing loss. As she thinks of that very difficult time, she says, “I felt like no one understood what I was going through and it was so isolating not to have any support.”
She moved between towns, searching for a place that would help her feel like she belonged.
It was when she moved to Adelaide things changed. She was offered a role with Deaf Can:Do, and working with us, she finally met others who faced the same barriers as her. She was introduced to Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and says “It was at that moment that I realised I was exactly where I needed to be.”
With the support of Deaf Can:Do, Nicola learnt how to communicate using Auslan. She immersed herself in Deaf culture, learning what pride Deaf people take in their language and culture, and slowly rebuilt her ability to make friends again. “Deaf Can:Do helped me get my identity back and helped me grow as a person.”