Strong Woman #52 Ancestor Week 10

img102 (2) Moira on the left as a young child with her brother Ray, and sisters Kathleen and Ann. Her youngest sister Marion was not born at this time

The first person to come to mind when I saw the heading was my mother Moira Joan LOADES née COOPER. Born at Naracoorte in May 1930, the second child of Phyllis Moira NOSWORTHY and Henry George COOPER. At the time of her birth and through her younger years the family were living at Lucindale.

In 1936 Moira was enrolled as a student at the Townsend House School for Deaf and Dumb Children in Brighton, Adelaide. The journey from Lucindale to Adelaide in the 1930’s was long and arduous. Moira often made the journey by herself after she was first enrolled. Distance meant that Moira spent most of the school year at Brighton, having the occasional weekend with her Aunt Maggie at Goodwood.

Going to school at Brighton was a frightening experience. This was her first experience of people using sign language along with living in a new environment, that felt alien to her. At the school Moira was one of three MC, (all students with the initials MC) who were in the multi-tone hearing class. This was an experimental class for students fitted with some of the very first hearing aids. The hearing aids were hard-wired to the power in the classroom and could only be used when in the classroom. The hearing aids supplemented the lip-reading and speech lessons that the students received. Alongside this the students also used what is known today as Auslan (Australian Sign Language).

Around 1942 the school closed for a period of time due to an epidemic and Moira was ill and returned home. By this time her parents were living at Blackwood Eden Hills and Moira was enrolled at Blackwood Primary School for her final two years of primary schooling, she then went on to Unless Girls Tech (Mitcham Girls HS today). In todays terms she was mainstreamed, but no additional supports were provided for her. She needed to cope the best that she could. No hearing aid was used as these were not practical in a local school, nor was there anyone who could use Auslan. She had to rely on her ability to lip-read.

On leaving school, she began work at Gambling’s a printing press and it was there that she developed a love of reading. This she has passed on to all her children and she continues to read extensively today. The hardship of her early years have made her a strong woman who throughout her life has had a strong sense of family, of social justice and of the rights of Deaf people to have the education and services that they require.

 

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