Geneviève Gagné

Indispensable support for self-acceptance and progress

In 2021, I had a hearing test at the Institut Raymond-Dewar related to severe neurosensory deafness detected when I was 5 years old. I’d returned to university to study occupational therapy and I wanted to obtain disabled status so that I could receive student aid.

I was offered various services, including speech therapy. But I said to myself: “Why speech therapy? I don’t have any problem with diction!” In fact, I’d always paid a lot of attention to my pronunciation, as a way of camouflaging my disability. But I was told that speech therapy would improve my lip reading skills and help me better communicate with more people.

Practical tips and immediate results

At Raymond-Dewar, I learned how to better ask questions so that I could get the information I needed. Today, I’m less hesitant to talk to people, I’m more comfortable with my friends, and I let myself off the hook when I have a hard time hearing in challenging conditions. I’ve learned how to manage my difficulties, I have a better appreciation of my strengths, and I have a greater mastery of the effort it takes to listen so that I can fill in the gaps in what’s being said. 

I’ve also received psychosocial treatment for my deafness. I’d mistakenly believed that I’d achieved self-acceptance. And yet, I was still hiding my hearing aids behind my hair. I received critical tools for this. Now, I know what I need for effective communication and I’m less embarrassed about my deafness. 

“I’d mistakenly believed that I’d achieved self-acceptance.”

Greater autonomy

It’s also easier for me to function without my hearing aids. For example, if the batteries are weak, I’m less at a loss. If someone talks to me and I’m not wearing my hearing aids, I try to understand what they’re saying rather than refuse any communication. It’s liberating. 

I’d been told that with my hearing aids, I no longer had a disability. So, I attributed my difficulties to personal failings or a lack of resolve. In the long run, that was painful and discouraging. Now, I have a better understanding of my reality and I’m more aware of the things I can change.

“I’m more aware of the things I can change.”

Making a difference

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the specialists at Raymond-Dewar and to the people who donate to the REA Foundation—I feel their support each and every day. Speaking of which, I, along with 14 others, recently received a $3,000 scholarship.

Because there’s no way I can work while I’m studying occupational therapy, this helping hand has allowed me to focus on my studies without worrying about my bills, to live in dignity without putting my health a risk. The help I’ve received at various times in my life has made all the difference. I hope I’ll be able to pay this forward once I’m an occupational therapist. 

Contributing to the REA Foundation enables people to realize their dreams, to have fulfilling lives, and to make the world a better place. 

Geneviève Gagné, 33 years old, occupational therapy student at Université de Montréal