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Lauren Patrick (she/her)
Disability, Deaf and Chronic Illness
Place of Birth: Minchinbury, New South Wales, Australia
Current location: Central Coast, New South Wales, Australia
Age: 31 years old
Language/s: Auslan, spoken English (read/ write)
NDIS Participant: Yes
Diagnoses: Profoundly Deaf, Endometriosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, ADHD
Healthcare Access: Primary Health Care, Allied Health, Mental Health, Secondary and Tertiary care
Lauren Patrick is a proud Deaf disability advocate, who wants to challenge perceptions and improve accessibility and inclusion for her community. Lauren has spoken at the Hunter Disability Expo, featured in the Disability Gateway campaign, modelled and acted, and engaged in a variety of advocacy work.
“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant” - Alan Greenspan
A quote that has been with Lauren for as long as she can remember. Being constantly misunderstood in a hearing world was surely an uncomfortable experience. Reaching out to the Deaf community at 26 years old changed her life. Auslan (Australian Sign Language) changed her life.
Born to hearing parents, Lauren was diagnosed profoundly deaf, had a congenital heart defect and nystagmus of the eyes. Lauren's parents were told to prepare for the worse, 'By the age of 5 this child will be Deaf & Blind'. Luckily, this was not the case.
Growing up, Lauren continued to defy the 'odds' of being a profoundly deaf child navigating through the never-ending speech therapy sessions, university research studies and trials for student PhDs, and audiology appointments. It became her 'normal'.
Being seen as the 'Deaf child who could speak' was always a conversation starter for many who she came across, and now Lauren embraces the privilege of having access to both the hearing and deaf world. She wants to use this privilege to bridge communication gaps and increase representation for the deaf community in every way, particularly in media and advertisements, as despite having an 'invisible disability' (sometimes accompanied by visible medical devices such as a cochlear implant), the community deserves to be represented without having to 'stand up and explain themselves'.
Additionally, Lauren was diagnosed with Endometriosis after experiencing symptoms for 8 years without a diagnosis, as well as Rheumatoid Arthritis as recently as 2022. Being diagnosed with both and navigating a recent diagnosis of ADHD has created challenges when accessing the health system. Creating effective communication in the health system is something Lauren advocates for regularly. Lauren has found that many within and outside of the healthcare system find it challenging to communicate with people who are deaf, and therefore can exclude people due to the perception that inclusion and accessibility is 'too hard'.
Lauren is passionate about raising awareness for the unseen and unspoken 'disability tax'; the fact that having a disability costs more due to access needs. For example, going to the doctors she would be charged for a double consultation as it takes longer for her to communicate with an interpreter, therefore it costs more money to communicate her basic healthcare needs than for the general population.
Lauren looks forward to combining her lived experience, and professional knowledge to improve the access in all areas of life for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HoH) individuals across Australia. Lauren believes that the lived experience of HoH individuals deserves to be recognised financially, and wants to shine a light on how organisations have begun paying only for access needs (an Auslan interpreter) for participation as replacement for remuneration of professional value.
Also, Lauren is currently working on her most exciting project yet, writing a book!
Hunter Disability Expo Speaker 2023
Featured in ‘Hear Me‘ (features people with complex communication needs discussing communication issues.), project funded by Laurel House
Featured in Disability Gateway Campaign 2021
Featured in Bus Stop Films
VALIANT - a short film about bravery in relationships for people with disability
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