Vale Leonie Jackson – leader and advocate for the Deaf community

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Leonie Jackson, a leader in Deaf community

The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) community is mourning the sudden passing of Leonie Jackson.

Between 1993 and 2010 Leonie held several key roles at RIDBC with great distinction including those of Director of RIDBC Roberta Reid Preschool and Assistant Principal of RIDBC Thomas Pattison School.

Leonie left RIDBC in 2010 to take up an executive role with Ai-Media where she was Head of Education and Research. In 2015 she was appointed Chief Executive of the Deaf Society (NSW), becoming the first deaf person to hold that role in more than 100 years of the Society’s history.

Leonie was known and loved by many past and present RIDBC staff and pupils, who will miss her greatly. She was also a bilateral cochlear implant recipient, supported through both implants in 2014 and 2020 by RIDBC. News of Leonie’s passing came as a shock to RIDBC staff who supported her through that journey.

Remembering Leonie Jackson, by Professor Greg Leigh

Director of RIDBC Renwick Centre Professor Greg Leigh shared some thoughts as part of his tribute to Leonie.

“Together with many current members of RIDBC staff, I had the great pleasure of working alongside Leonie during the time she worked at RIDBC from 1993 until 2010.

There is no question that her pioneering efforts were critical in the establishment of the sign bilingual education programs at RIDBC and will long be remembered by our field. Indeed, she was instrumental in many developments that we now take for granted. In 2006 she was awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to explore new solutions for deaf/hard-of-hearing students in mainstream settings using real-time captioning or speech to text technology.

Leonie’s passion for developing and advancing the Deaf community shone through in everything that she did. Last year, she was instrumental in the merger of the Deaf Society and Deaf Services Queensland and accepted the role of Executive Manager, Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships for the newly merged entity. She was completely committed to the merger, and the benefits that it would bring, and will be a great loss to that new organisation and her many colleagues there who will miss her as a leader, colleague, and friend.

Our thoughts today are with Leonie’s family, friends, and colleagues—including those of us here at RIDBC who had the pleasure of working with her and her family in a variety of ways over many years and will miss her deeply. Above all, however, Leonie was a caring and devoted mother. Our thoughts, in particular, are with her two young sons.

A wonderful advocate for the Deaf community with a passionate belief in the power of education to change lives for Deaf people, particularly children, Leonie will be sadly missed.”

Leave a message about Leonie Jackson

As the time of publication (Wednesday 3 February 2021), a celebration of Leonie’s life is being held.

You can leave a public message about Leonie Jackson on the RIDBC Facebook page.

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