Dr Audrey Lessard, first deaf doctor of podiatry in Canada

August 23, 2010
Dr Audrey Lessard,  first deaf doctor of podiatry in Canada
At birth, my health was normal. My parents discovered only three months later that I was deaf. Upon learning this, they summoned their courage and decided to offer me the best possible education. What really saved me was that my parents really encouraged me to speechread and to learn to speak.

I always told everyone that I wanted to be a doctor. People told me that it would be impossible since I was deaf. I completed my first two years of university at the University of Sherbrooke, studying pharmacology, but soon realized that I wasn’t cut out for lab work because I needed human contact. So I switched to the podiatry program. I didn’t know anything about podiatry, but I’d heard that there was a new program at the University of Québec at Trois-Rivières. I entered in the second year of the program and obtained my diploma in April of 2009. During my four years at university, I had eight interpreters. It was quite a challenge.

In everyday life, I can communicate well without an interpreter. What I love is that, for other people to be able to communicate with me, they have no choice but to look me in the eye, as I do them.

Several years ago, I began writing a book about all the challenges I’ve overcome. For me, being here in the clinic, it’s like reaching the peak of Mount Everest. I really want to show parents of deaf children how to help their children. Despite the obstacles I’ve faced, I never gave up because I always had the same dream. I followed the path to my objective – the one I’ve had since I was three years old: to become a doctor.

I’m very proud to be a member of OMPAC. Supporting people who have cancer challenges me a lot. I can advise deaf people who have cancer that OMPAC can provide them with psychological support during their ordeal. In my personal experience, I know when interpreter services are precious to deaf or hard-of-hearing people. They facilitate communication between the various health care providers and their patients, which forms the basis for trust and a sense of security for patients.

Source « Une pilule, une petite granule ».
Pictures Benoit Camirand