EACH time Debbie Smart calls out to her three-year-old daughter Grace, she is reminded of how much she owes the Hear and Say organisation.
Grace was born with a rare congenital defect called microtia - a rare illness which meant she had no right ear. The condition was accompanied by the disorder atresia, which means Grace was born without a right ear canal.
As there was no canal for sound to travel through, Grace had no hearing on her right side.
"When Grace was younger you would have to yell at her to get her attention," Mrs Smart, of Minden, said.
"It also affected her motor skills and slowed down the development of her speech."
When she was nine months old, Grace was given a helping hand by the not-for-profit group Hear and Say. Founded in 1992, the organisation has helped thousands of deaf children hear and speak using a combination of modern hearing technology and auditory-verbal therapy
"We were referred to Hear and Say by an ear, nose and throat specialist and started taking Grace to the centre in Auchenflower each fortnight," Mrs Smart said.
Meeting with an auditory-verbal therapist, Grace began sessions to help her hear, understand and learn speech.
"Within six months we began to see a change in her speech and her listening," Mrs Smart said.
"When you would ask her to listen, you could see the concentration in her face that she was trying to do that."
Grace was fitted with a bone conduction hearing aid which sends sound directly to the inner ear by vibrating the bones of the skull.
"Her hearing is now average to high when compared to a child with normal hearing...we now only need to visit the centre once a year," she said.
"When she starts school with her twin brother Lochie, I don't want her being treated differently from the other kids.
"And thanks to the fantastic support from Hear and Say, this can now happen."
Founder and executive director Dr Dimity Dornan said when it came to changing the lives of deaf children, anything and everything was possible.
"Our adult graduates are proof of that," she said.
"They have achieved their high school OPs, studied at university, worked in their field of choice, travelled overseas, excelled in sport, married, and some are now parents."
But Hear and Say is in need of financial support to continue its work. For information on how to help, phone 3870 2221.
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