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Welcome to the Breaking the Sound Barriers blog!

My name is Julie Postance and I am the author of the new book, Breaking the Sound Barriers: 9 deaf success stories (published by Deaf Children Australia in May 2009).  This book is a collection of real life interviews which captures the highs and lows, struggles and achievements of parents of deaf and hard of hearing children, and deaf and hard of hearing adults.

First let me explain why I wrote Breaking the Sound Barriers.

I am a trained journalist, author, ghostwriter and marketing professional.  I have worked for Deaf Children Australia – a national not for profit representing the needs of 16,000 deaf and hard of hearing children across Australia – since 2005.  My job has been to increase awareness of deaf children through feature stories in the media, newsletters, direct mail appeals and events.

While working at Deaf Children Australia, I discovered that 95% of deaf and hard of hearing children are born to hearing parents who have little or no experience of deafness.  I witnessed numerous parents of deaf and hard of hearing children calling the Deaf Children Australia Helpline saying, “My child has a hearing loss.  Will they ever lead a happy, normal life?  Will they cope at school?  Will they make friends?  Will they ever drive?  Will they get married?”

Having worked with many deaf and hard of hearing people who were leading very active, full, happy, successful lives, I knew the answer was a giant resounding “YES!”, but these parents clearly didn’t!

I went home and started searching the internet for any books that would show these families that deaf children could be, do and have whatever they wanted in this world with the right knowledge and support.  But what I discovered instead were countless books packed with nothing but dry medical jargon.

In my job, I spoke to many parents of deaf children who complained about the lack of support following the diagnosis of their children.  Others reported being propelled into a highly politicised world of deafness where different organizations pushed their own agendas.

Some parents went so far as to tell me that they had been discouraged by some authorities from using sign language with their children!  Other parents revealed that they had taken heat from the Deaf community for using hearing aids or cochlear implants.  No wonder these parents were feeling frustrated and confused!

I realised what was missing (and what was much needed) was a simple, comprehensive, easy to understand, user-friendly, non-intimidating and positive book about how to raise a child with hearing loss that was easy to apply.  Something that would REALLY help and empower families of deaf children.

So I decided to interview with some of the most successful families of deaf children I knew of who had ‘broken barriers’ in terms of raising their deaf child.  I also interviewed happy, successful deaf adults who had achieved remarkable things in their lives.

The need became increasingly apparent on my behalf to share these inspiring stories so that others could benefit from them and incorporate some of the winning strategies they have used into their own lives.

The result is “Breaking the Sound Barriers: 9 deaf success stories, which captures the highs and lows, struggles and achievements of five amazing families of deaf children and four deaf adults.

This book is jam packed with invaluable tips and information to ensure deaf children fulfil their potential in life.  This book respects the fact that there are many ways to successfully raise a deaf child and that parents should make their own decisions, based on what is right for their family and for their children.

Each person in the book has chosen a different path.  Some have chosen the signing route; others the auditory verbal route and others, the bilingual route.  By reading their stories, you will get a glimpse into the likely implications of taking one direction or the other.  It gives you some fundamental information foundations for making difficult decisions necessary when choosing the best path for your child.

And let’s face it.  Who better to offer a parent practical, hands on advice than those parents who have navigated the journey before?  Or a deaf adult who has come up against and overcome many of the barriers associated with hearing loss?  All this information is tried and tested by people who have walked the path before.  These parents of deaf children and deaf adults address all the questions you have had and more in a book that is easy-to-read and in plain English with no jargon!

The five families of deaf children in this book are incredible.  Let’s take Joanna, for example, who is the mother of ten year Estelle, who was diagnosed as severely deaf at 22 months old.  Joanna talks candidly about the lack of support by professionals up to and following the diagnosis. “All I wanted to do was speak to another parent of a deaf child who would tell me that everything would be okay.” Joanna’s feelings of isolation and need for support led her to create a support group for other parents of deaf and hard of hearing children.  She also created a free support booklet written by parents of deaf children, which is now inserted into the ‘showbag of medical mumbo-jumbo’ that parents receive following diagnosis.  Estelle mainly uses oral language to communicate, attends a mainstream school with her hearing brothers, and plans to run her own hairdressing salon one day.

This book would never be complete without stories of deaf and hard of hearing adults…

Which is why I interviewed some of five of Australia’s most inspiring deaf adults who share with you their battles and victories, obstacles and opportunities, pressures and lessons.  Each speaks about the barriers they came up against being deaf in a hearing world.  Some speak about the feelings of isolation being born into a hearing family, or with being the only deaf student at school.  Others tell about the shortage of specialist support in the classroom and with having to prove to potential employers that they can do the job just as well as a hearing person.

They reveal the skills they have developed to compensate for a lack of hearing, the mindset they needed to cultivate, to cope and flourish, and the beliefs they have had to nurture when barriers have sometimes seemed insurmountable.  The insights they reveal is not found in medical journals.  These are gems that cannot be found anywhere else.

These five incredibly generous deaf and hard of hearing adults I had the privilege of interviewing have undergone challenge after challenge in the hearing world, yet they have gone on to become highly successful sportspeople, businessmen and women, CEOs of large organisations, teachers, wives, husbands, mothers and friends.

For example, you will read how David, who is profoundly deaf, came from a small country town with virtually no specialist support.  He speaks about what it was like being the only one in his school, his family and virtually his whole town who was deaf – and how despite numerous setbacks, he succeeded in becoming the National Business Operations Manager of a sports organisation, representing Australia in the 2005 Deaflympic Games in water polo, and climbing three of Britain’s highest mountains in less than 24 hours! He says, “Being deaf is a huge challenge.  There is nothing I love more than embarking on new adventures and showing others that being deaf doesn’t hold you back.  It is simply about finding a way to achieve whatever it is you want in life.”

Since its launch in May 2009, Breaking the Sound Barriers has been met with huge success around Australia including being featured on Channel 7 and in many magazines and newspapers.  I have loved receiving emails and calls from parents saying how much the book has helped them.  My aim is to get it into the hands of every family with a deaf child around the world and this year, I plan to take it to the UK, the US and China.

You can read what others thought of it in the Testimonials section, but what I can tell you is what this ground-breaking book will give you:

  • You’ll be able to take away with you practical solutions to help you enrich your deaf child’s life and in doing so, improve your own.
  • You’ll discover that deaf and hard of hearing people can BE, DO and HAVE anything they want in this world.
  • You’ll feel less alone in your journey of raising your deaf child.
  • You’ll get a candid insight into the world of deafness – the tears and the joys.
  • You’ll connect with, and learn from, those who have travelled a similar path so that you may become the best parent you can be to your deaf child.
  • Gain specific strategies others have used to tackle barriers related to early intervention services, education, communication within the family and in the community, employment and adulthood.
  • Get a wealth of practical advice about navigating the highs and lows, drawing out the best in your deaf child and keeping your child’s self-esteem high.
  • Glean valuable tips and ideas from deaf adults as to what works and what doesn’t in regards to being deaf in a hearing world.
  • You’ll get a totally new perspective on hearing loss…

While this book was originally written for parents and families of deaf or hard of hearing children, it is also valuable for deaf and hard of hearing teenagers, deaf and hard of hearing adults, and professionals interested in deaf perspectives. Schools and universities will also find it a useful resource for subjects dealing with deafness.

The book is currently available on Amazon and from Deaf Children Australia for $24.95.  If you buy it directly from Deaf Children Australia, they will receive 50% of the profits of the book so you will be making a greater difference to deaf children if you buy it from there.  Otherwise, if you buy it from Amazon, Deaf Children Australia will still receive 10% of the profits.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback about the book.  Please use the contact page to contact me.

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