Dr Melissa McCarthy completed her studies through NextSense Institute and the University of Newcastle, submitting her PhD thesis in October 2020. Melissa’s thesis was titled ‘Comparison of Telepractice and In-Person Models of Family-Centred Early Intervention for Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing’.
Following rigorous examination by a panel of international early intervention and telepractice experts, Melissa’s degree was conferred in March. Her research adds much-needed additional evidence about the factors that influence the successful delivery of early intervention through telepractice.
One of Melissa’s examiners described her work as ‘unique, extensive, and important’, noting that it ‘has major implications for service delivery worldwide’.
In their report the examiner noted that, in many parts of the world, there are considerable barriers experienced regarding the delivery of family centred early intervention for deaf or hard of hearing children. They concluded that Melissa’s research ‘increases confidence not only in the comparability of this mode of service delivery to in-person delivery, but that telepractice may actually enhance the delivery of…family centred early intervention’.
This was high praise and reinforces the importance of this research. Why does it matter? It matters because the ‘barriers’
that the examiner referred to were never more apparent than during the lockdowns associated with COVID-19 when early intervention specialists around the world were unable to see children and families in person.
Melissa commenced her PhD studies prior to 2017 when NextSense Institute (formerly RIDBC Renwick Centre) was affiliated with the University of Newcastle.