People diagnosed with both deafness and blindness at the same time helped by the county council

Being diagnosed with deafness or blindness is a significant thing for anyone to deal with – but imagine having to cope with both at the same time.

Usher’s Syndrome is a genetic disorder that leaves people with both a hearing loss and visual loss and is at present incurable.

Oxfordshire County Council’s specialist Sensory Impairment team has recently helped set up a new social group to offer people in the county experiencing this condition the chance to socialise with others who have the same diagnosis.

Catherine Thurbin, Specialist Deafblind Worker in the team, said: “The impact of being Deafblind is often significant on the individual; affecting mobility, access to information, communication and can lead to social isolation.

In order to support this group myself and my colleague Zelda Yarker arranged for five of our service users with Usher’s Syndrome to meet and socialise with others that understood their deafblind experience.

“After the meeting they all expressed a wish for the group to continue to meet and our aim is now to support the group to independently self-manage choosing venues that they have good access to.

One of the group members Brian Piercey, said: “I found it really positive being able to talk about and share my experiences with other people. Previously I was reluctant to use a white cane to support me outside in the community but now having the positive experience I was able to encourage others in the group about the advantages of using a white cane.

“I was also able to give advice to another group member who is considering visiting Iceland as I had visited their myself. I enjoyed talking to others in the group about their hobbies and experiences. I would love to keep in touch with everyone and continue to meet as a group”

Councillor Lawrie Stratford, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “As a council one of our big aims is to enable older and disabled people to live independently and care for those in greatest need. Our work to help Susan, Michael, Brian, Aaron, Loren and Maureen is a great example of this and we all hope they will benefit yet more in coming weeks and months.”