Learning to listen and speak with Dr Dimity Dornan

Hear and Say founder, Dr Dimity Dornan, has helped thousands of young Australians hear for the first time with cochlear ear implants.

Dr Dornan began Hear and Say in 1992 to make cochlear implants more available to young Queenslanders. Now, 27 years later, the organisation is a world-leading Paediatric Auditory-Verbal and cochlear implant centre.

“I started it because children really needed to be able to learn to listen and speak here in Queensland and it was a choice that wasn’t really available,” Dr Dornan said.

“There were parents who really wanted for their children to listen and speak and that’s what I set up Hear and Say to do.”

Cochlear implants were developed in Australia and first used commercially in the 1980s but, even in 1992, they were not commonly used to help deaf children communicate.

Despite this, cochlear implants were considered a game changer for those unable to hear.

“Once the cochlear implant came in, it changed everything,” Dr Dornan said.

“What it’s done is changed the full potential for children to learn to listen and speak and that has just gotten better and better.

“In the early days people weren’t sure what was going to happen and how things were going to turn out, but I was just overjoyed as soon as I worked with my first, second and third cochlear implant children.

“You could tell that they were just roaring ahead and their listening and speaking had huge potential.”

By providing deaf children with the technology to learn to listen and speak, Dr Dornan has ensured that they have the tools to progress and develop in the same way as non-deaf children.

“What we can do these days is use some of these wonderful digital technologies that we have to open that pathway to the brain and let sound into the brain very early,” said Dr Dornan.

“Then the brain can just grow as it normally would.”

Listen to more from Dr Dimity Dornan below.

Your shout is available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple iTunes and RACQ Living.


Watch as Xavier’s cochlear implants are switched to sound for the first time with Hear and Say.

Sounds of Hope by Dr Dimity Dornan is available here.