Mary-Anne Hodgkinson, Ashley's mother, was pregnant with Ashley when she contracted cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common virus that can affect almost anyone, and consequently resulted in Ashley being born deaf.
With no interpreter available during Ashley's mainstream school career, Mary-Anne reluctantly took on the role which started in Grade 10 and continued through the 4 years of Ashley's degree.
"Ashley understood and accepted that I was her access to auditory information and simply a vessel", says May-Anne. "This stage was extremely challenging, as the work was difficult, but Ashley knew what was needed to achieve her dream of studying at university and obtaining a degree. She worked very hard and coped extremely well."
Throughout her school years and the years at Embury, Ashley did all the research, assignments, tests, studying, and examinations entirely on her own, like the other pupils and students are expected to do," said Mary-Anne. "If Ashley needed to present a project orally, then she presented in the front of the lecture hall like any other student, except she presented in sign and I voiced over what she was signing." Mary-Anne went through high school and four years of university with her daughter, interpreting every lesson and lecture, and asking questions on her behalf.
Ashley has only happy memories of her four years at Embury and is proud of the distinctions she achieved. "My happiest memory was that not a single person treated me like I was a disabled person—and I do not see myself as a disabled person at all—everyone made me feel that I was normal, except that I can't hear, that is it. Do not let your disability limit you. Never give up, go after your dreams," she said. "Of course, you will experience a few challenges—I have struggled with a few things but one gets through them."
Ashley will be graduating from Embury with a Bachelor of Education Foundation Phase on 16 March 2016. She has started her new job as Grade 1 teacher at St Vincent School for the Deaf in Johannesburg ( ), and has just relocated, so no longer lives with her parents in Pietermaritzburg.
The Embury Institute for Teacher Education (Pty) Ltd., established in 1995, is a registered and accredited private higher education institute, currently with a campus in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, and plans in progress to expand nationally. Embury prepares high-performance teachers to work in South African schools and is rapidly becoming the institute of choice for people entering the educational sector. With an average pass rate of more than 80%, Embury prides itself on offering excellent teacher education through the integration of innovative pedagogy with practical experience.