The torch that she carried

Jane with a panel of speakers

Jane reflects on the honour and significance of winning the Heather Jackson Award 2022 

Heather Jackson was a role model and hard-working advocate for people who lose their hearing. She was Chair of the National Association of Deafened People. Heather understood how vital it was for people who have the distressing and isolating experience of losing their hearing to receive the right support, whether this be lipreading classes, social groups, technical support or professional communication support. Heather was closely associated with Hearing Link (now part of Hearing Dogs for the Deaf) and Hi Kent both of which do vital work to provide this support – and a lifeline to those who lose their hearing.

Heather died in 2008 aged only 58. The three charities with which she was closely associated created the prize in her name. This is given annually to a deafened person who has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the welfare and opportunity of deafened people, and to enhancing positive relationships between deafened and hearing people. 

I was delighted to be able to receive the award in person as part of the NADP’s annual conference on 15 October in London. In her announcement, Chair of the NADP, Lidia Best, highlighted that I had been prepared to bring a legal case against a previous employer for career discrimination related to my professional lipspeaking support. Lidia commented that although I had not won the legal case, bringing it had helped raise awareness. ‘We cannot always win, but need to keep raising issues- to challenge the barriers put in our way’. She highlighted my tenacity in progressing my career and support of other deaf and disabled people despite those barriers.

Photo: Jane receives her award from panel Chair Lidia Best

We also celebrated the achievements of creative powerhouse, entrepreneur and NADP trustee, Nick Tedd, who founded and leads the Bliss group of bespoke hair salons.

The conference was a vibrant mix of presentations including a report on international developments and campaigns for deafened people, an update on captioned telephony plus trailblazing new services and technologies such as SKY TV’s 100% captioning commitment and XRAI’s amazing new glasses which caption conversations in front of your eyes.

Heather Jackson’s legacy is enabling more deafened people to lead fulfilling lives and be able to contribute their talents and skills. After receiving the prize, I reflected on how Heather might have felt if she had been at this year’s conference. I hope she would have been pleased to see people coming together again and the progress in several areas. I am sure she would be encouraging us all to keep going.

Thank you to the NADP, Hearing Link and Hi Kent for selecting me for this year’s prize. I will do my best to keep the spirit of Heather’s work alive – to carry her torch further and pass it on to others.



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