10 questions with… Michele Nealon


Describing herself as a “disrupter and advocate for the social model of disability”, Michele Nealon joined the University in March as a Hearing Coordinator, working alongside academics in Macquarie University Hearing.

Michele uses her personal experience as a person who is hard of hearing to advocate for those with lived experience – opening hearts to disabled perspectives. She holds a Master of Philosophy (Education) from the University of Newcastle and a Master in Community Management from the University of Technology, Sydney, and is a current member of the Disability Leadership Institute.

Following consultation with staff, students and groups across the University, Michele has formed a representative group of people with lived experience called the Lived Experience Network of D/deaf and hard of hearing.  The Lived Experience Network is open to all D/deaf or hard of hearing staff, students and community groups. If you are interested in joining, contact michele.nealon@mq.edu.au

1. Something people usually ask you when they find out what you do for a living

My career has been an eclectic one, so people who know me, often ask how I am making a difference now.

2. Something you would like staff to know about

The International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is celebrated annually on 3 December, but many in the disability community are perfectly happy to identify and be recognised as people with disability every day of the year.

Not all disability is visible, yet all of us, whether we know it or not, work and play with people with disability on a regular basis.

3. The theme for IDPwD 2023 is ‘Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world’. What does this mean to you?

Technological innovation is making huge changes to the range of devices and services available to people who are hard of hearing. I’m thinking of vibrating watches that alert of motion, vibrating alarm clocks, AI captions (although there is still some way to go with accuracy), hearing loops and the like.

The most transformative solutions for inclusion are of the human kind. The ones where all people, organisations and businesses are willing to engage in flexible communication methods to provide accessible communications to those who are hard of hearing.

4. Something you feel proud of

Macquarie University Hearing recently hosted a seminar by the world’s most recognised advocate for hearing loops, Dutch-born US citizen Dr Juliëtte Sterkens – a fabulous presentation that shared critical information in creating inclusive environments for all people who are hard of hearing.

5. What you need to do your best work

To be surrounded by people who know what it means to provide an accessible and inclusive environment for people who are hard of hearing like me, AND chocolate!

6. Something you have read recently that has had an impact on you

Positively Purple by the magnificent Kate Nash. So many useful tips on building an inclusive world where people with disability can flourish.

7. Something you are aiming to do differently in 2024

I will continue to advocate for the inclusion of people who are hard of hearing in all matters that impact them.

8. Your definition of success

I believe in the quote that, ‘Success is a journey, not a destination’. I continue to work towards ensuring people who are hard of hearing are visible, heard and above all, valued in their contributions.

9. A personal quality you value in others

The ability to gently invite outsiders into conversations.

10. The first person you go to for advice

A wise friend who listens intently to what I’m saying, isn’t afraid to tell me when I’m wrong but invariably provides gentle clarity of thought and action when I’m struggling.





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