John has always loved his independence but since losing his sight and hearing in the Korean War, aged just 21, things have been more difficult. This worsened when he later developed Macular Degeneration, an eye condition which causes loss of central vision. Now registered blind, 85 year old John can make out light and dark and can see a shape if it passes in front of the light. John’s hearing was also damaged in the war and he now uses hearing aids, but his lack of hearing in addition to his sight problems, makes everyday tasks extremely difficult.
John misses the opportunity to do what he wants, when he wants. He said: “A lot of services in our society are just not easy for me to access which is really frustrating.”
So when John’s local pub (where he had been going with friends for the past 50 years) closed off the doorway that he was using to access the building, he was mortified. John can access the pub independently because he knows the building so well, but he relies on using a separate doorway away from the main entrance. Deafblind UK staff member, Corinne, worked tirelessly to negotiate with the brewery on John’s behalf. The doorway has now been re-opened and John can continue to do what he loves best!
Everyday communication is very different for John and not being able to get out and about as much as he would like, he finds himself relying on his phone as his main connection to the outside world. However, his phone recently broke and the provider insisted he sent it away and awaited its repair. But this would have left John with no phone and completely cut off so he turned to Deafblind UK for support. Corinne arranged for John to borrow a replacement phone from the provider until his was repaired, meaning he could carry on as normal.
As John’s social activities become increasingly limited, he has benefitted from regular contact with a Deafblind UK befriender, Matthew, who rings him every Tuesday for a chat. John said: “Matthew is a great listener; I really look forward to his weekly call. We talk about the news and he educates me about his life in London. We have a good laugh and it’s great to have someone to talk to without worrying about going out and about.”
John recently accompanied Corinne to give a deafblind awareness talk at her local primary school. The children found it fascinating to be able to talk to a real blind person and to try out his talking watch. Teacher Mrs Crowder said: “John gave children a rare insight into life as a person who is deafblind, increasing the children’s empathy and understanding.” John said “I thoroughly enjoyed it””
With support from Deafblind UK, John has been able to remain as independent as possible despite his condition. “I will always like to do things for myself but I know that Deafblind UK is there if I come unstuck. I can just call them and I know there is someone there so I’m not on my own.” He said.