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November 2, 2002

Glen aces disability

From: Western Australia Sunday Times, Western Australia


GLEN Flindell is living proof that disability need not be disabling.

The 22-year-old medical science graduate and champion tennis player says he never entertained the idea that his profound deafness would get in the way of anything he set his mind to.

It helped that his parents expected his full participation in life from an early age.

And he encourages all the hearing-impaired youngsters he meets to do the same.

"I do whatever I want," he said.

"My parents brought me up to get involved in sport and other activities and not to be held back because I have a hearing problem," he said.

With four club championships under his belt at the Fremantle Tennis Club where he is a member, he has his sights set on international competition in Austria next year – if sponsorship is forthcoming.

He can't hear line and net calls and misses out on sound cues that deliver additional information about the velocity of shots on the court, but you won't hear him complain.

A lip-reader who has been deaf since birth, he said his biggest frustration had been with teachers at university who forget to face him during lectures, especially those who grew full beards that obscured their lips.

"They do make an effort to face me and speak clearly but after a while they forget," he said.

He overcame the problem by borrowing notes from other students.

A lack of resources for hearing-impaired people at the tertiary level saw many drop out of further education.

"Not many (hearing-impaired people) go on to university because of the difficulty of learning," he said.

Learning to lip-read rather than use sign language had prepared him well for life in a hearing world.

"When it comes to making the transition to operating in the hearing community, it makes participation that much easier," he said.

Mr Flindell, who works at Western Diagnostic Pathology, is guest speaker at a fundraising event for the early intervention program at the Speech and Hearing Centre next month.

© Sunday Times