Audiologist and researcher Mary Beth Jennings, PhD, passed away on May 5 after a long and courageous fight against Ewing’s sarcoma in Sudbury, Ontario.
For the past 20 years, Dr Jennings was as an Associate Professor and faculty member in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Western University and an Associate in the National Centre for Audiology, where she had a profound impact as a researcher as well as serving as a mentor to many students through the years. Jennings was known as a prolific researcher and writer who generously shared her work with colleagues worldwide, including coauthoring articles in The Hearing Review. Her research made a large and lasting impact in adult aural rehabilitation, family-centered care and counseling, innovations in workplace accessibility and participation for persons with hearing loss, social stigma, and universal design for hearing loss. Additionally, through therapeutic community-based aural rehabilitation programs, Jennings encouraged individuals living with hearing loss to overcome their difficulties in understanding speech and improve their communication skills in the workplace, and in real-life social environments such as restaurants, sporting events, concerts, and theater outings.
Inspired by the communication struggles of her grandfather, who became blind and deaf in one ear, Jennings entered Laurentian University and completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology. According to her obituary, Jennings and fellow student Jean-Pierre Gagne took courses in Sensation and Perception and Psychology of Hearing with Dr R. H. Farrant who persuaded both of them to pursue a degree in Audiology. Jennings completed her MS degree in Audiology and later her doctoral degree in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University in London, Ontario; J-P Gagne also obtained his PhD and subsequently became the Director of the École d’orthophonie et d’audiologie at the Université de Montréal. Over the years, the two collaborated on numerous research projects and were drivers behind the recent movement for family-centered audiology care.
Dr Jenning’s research will live on in her 50+ papers and book chapters, her students, and the work of her colleagues, and she will be missed by all who knew her.
This tribute was adapted from Dr Jennings obituary which can be found here.