After a very lengthy struggle with cancer, Sharon Barrey Grassick, aged 68, passed away on August 25th 2018 in the Bethesda Hospice at Claremont, Western Australia, surrounded by her close friends and Rob, her much loved son. Sharon (Sha to her close friends) was widely regarded as Australia’s leading teacher and researcher in the complex area of communication skills for children and adults who are Deafblind. She was author of a number of major journal articles, substantial training manuals and specialist videos as well as a presenter at numerous national and international conferences on deafblindness and CHARGE Syndrome. Sharon was instrumental in establishing the Western Australian Deafblind Association (WADBA) and headed that organisation for many years before it amalgamated in 2001 with the Royal WA Institute for the Blind to become Senses Foundation.
Originally from Upstate New York, Sharon was awarded a M.Sc. in Deaf Education in 1973 from the State University of New York at Geneseo. She was recipient of a Rotary International Award (1980), to study at Sydney’s Macquarie University as Research Assistant at North Rocks Deaf and Blind Children’s Centre. Here she developed a passion for building communication with children who are deafblind. She was initially a classroom teacher, then visiting teacher, university lecturer and coordinator of services for individuals with deafblindness. She also taught the Deafblind Communication modules in the Auslan Studies Course at TAFE and was Team Leader of the Deafblind Education Service based at WA Institute for Deaf Education (WAIDE) as well as Adjunct Lecturer in Sensory and Multiple Disability at the RIDBC Renwick Centre, North Rocks, NSW.
She was as well, Secretary of the Australian DeafBlind Council (ADBC) and WA Director of the CHARGE Syndrome Association of Australasia. Sharon presented at numerous forums nationally and internationally and was Scientific Committee Chairperson for the 14th World Conference of DbI (Deafblind International) held in Western Australia in 2007.
Should you wish to remember Sharon’s life of dedication in a tangible way, the Cancer Support Group WA maintains a website through which you might contribute in her memory.