All Creatures Great and Small: Meet Deaf Vet Emma


“There’s always a way if you believe that there is.” Meet deaf veterinarian Emma Johnson, the latest recipient of the Kenneth W Tribe Fellowship Fund. 


The Kenneth W Tribe Fellowship Fund is awarded to members of the deaf and hard of hearing communities to further their education. 


The Fund, established in 1983, is named after the late Mr Kenneth W Tribe AO LLB, Director of the Board of the Deaf Society for forty years, including fourteen years as President. 


The most recent recipient is Emma Johnson, who used the Fund to achieve her dream of undertaking study in Veterinary Medicine.  



We are pleased to report Emma has now graduated from her study, and has taken up a role as a veterinarian in South Australia.  


Emma sent us a message to update us on what the Fund has meant to her, how it has helped her, and what she has achieved. 


Over the first two and a half years of my course, I hadn’t met any other healthcare professionals with hearing loss, which has meant I struggled to find information and tools to help me overcome the barriers I face as someone with hearing loss. Most people in my field are very supportive, but don’t really understand how difficult it can be to live with hearing loss, especially as a disability that can’t always been seen. 


I have a similar pattern of hearing loss to my Mum, and it was first diagnosed when I was about 6-7years old. It's degenerating over time and recently, I've had an episode of sudden sensorineural hearing loss and lost everything in my left ear. For me, it's something that I try not to let define me - I'm still just Emma and continue to live my life fully in every way I can. 



The Fund provided financial support to complete my study, as well as enabling me to go on an overseas placement to Malawi to gain practical hands-on experience with wildlife and to learn about species conservation, both things I’m very passionate about. 


I was also able to purchase assistive technology that was essential for my studies. I couldn't live without my vibrating alarm clock for those early morning starts! I also have a Bluetooth stethoscope, which enables me to assess heart and lung sounds in animals big and small! Additionally, I have a remote mic that streams directly to my hearing aids and can also stream my computer directly to my hearing aids, which I've found invaluable especially for Zoom sessions and online lectures. 



I have just moved interstate to South Australia and have started a position in mixed practice, meaning I work with both small and large animals – a lifelong dream come true. So very exciting! 


All in all, this fellowship has enabled me to achieve a dream that at times over the last few years felt so unattainable. Some days can be tough but don't let yourself be defined or limited by your hearing loss, and never ever give up! There's always a way if you believe that there is … 



To find out more about the Kenneth W Tribe Fellowship Fund, visit HERE.