My son read Molly's applewatch blog to me last year. She made everything sound so easy and to be honest I didn't believe it.
My son kept on and and and on about me getting one as I had become quite a recluse.
I could always find an excuse not to go out, my neighbours helped out with shopping and my son visits regularly.
I have had an iPhone for just over a year and learnt how to use it just by playing with it.
A couple of years ago I was assessed by Guidedogs for a dog but was told I couldn't be considered for a dog until I had some sort of routine as the dog needs to work.
To be honest it put me into a state of depression and I withdrew further.
I was trained to use a cane some years ago but didn't like it and didn't feel I needed it. I was definitely in denial.
Anyway, I had been unhappy for many years. Usher Syndrome has isolated me and I let it.
My son advised me of the project Molly had put together through her charity and he more I read the more I wanted to give the applewatch a try.
I admire Molly, so young and doing her best to live happily and to help others, she is definitely an inspiration to me.
At 54 years old I am not an expert in technology but I'm learning and I quite like it, I have surprised myself with my iPhone, set up my own email and a few apps and games with a little help.
I decided to apply for the applewatch thinking I'd have no chance, as I don't have a regular routine, haven't even ventured to my local shop on my own for probably 5 years.
I'm sure there are lots of people hoping to get an applewatch and Molly Watt Trust is a small charity and fundraising isn't easy.
When I got the email to say I had been approved for a watch and after a few formalities it would be sent to me I was in shock, I hadn't expected it especially as at this stage I knew MWT have asked for feedback to help with fundraising and I asked to be anonymous - it wasn't a problem.
I received my applewatch in January, it was like Christmas. I charged it and set it up on my own, I fiddled around with it, sorted out the accessibility settings and changed the faces. My son did help me with a few apps and applepay then he helped me set up a route on maps for me to walk on my own with my cane. He was more excited than me.
It took me 2 weeks to actually walk that route, I had sleepless nights thinking about it. I was fighting with myself, I wanted to do it but I was frightened and hated the thought of being seen with my cane.
I planned the walk over and over until I finally took a deep breath and just did it.
The route was to my local shops, just over a mile a way.
At first I was really slow and apprehensive but the further I got the better I felt, the watch guided me with taps on my wrist for left and right. I made it to the small supermarket and I felt so adrenalised I wanted to walk and walk. All of a sudden I didn't care if people were looking at me, I felt confident, I felt great.
I decided to go in the coffee shop next door something I'd never have done for fear of knocking something over, I walked in, it was quite empty, I ordered my coffee and the young girl asked if I wanted to pay with my applewatch, I stretched out my arm and beep, done.
I sat down and my coffee was brought to me.
I couldn't believe myself, I was smiling to myself for the first time in a long time, I had done it and I did it for myself.
I text my son from the coffee shop, he didn't believe me so came and met me. We both cried, silly I know but a big deal for me.
My son took me home and we talked about technology and how it can change people, enable people, just amazing.
That was the first time and now I go out everyday, I feel so much better for it. No longer a prisoner in my own home, I can get from a to b fairly safely. I do get a bit stressed if it is busy so I avoid busy times.
For me this is just the beginning, I will contact Guidedogs for the blind again perhaps in the summer when I can say I go out regularly, we will see.
For now I just want to thank everybody at Molly Watt Trust for making this happen and for Molly for being such an inspirational young lady.
I will write again soon.
This might not be seen as pushing boundaries for some.......
However, for myself it was like jumping out of an aeroplane!
I have always admired a local photographers work and I see regular updates of his work on Facebook. I noticed that he was looking for models. I got in touch with my best friend (Julie) and said why don't you enquire about it. No harm in asking.......he replied with yes, I'll work with you.
I was so excited for Julie and she asked me to attend with her for moral support....GULP not wanting to let her down after suggesting the idea, i said (meekly) yes ok..........!
Panic stations, I have got to go to a place, I've never been before and be my friends support whilst shaking in my boots at being in unfamiliar territory!!
The next day, I'm feeling really positive and enthusiastic for Julie. I was looking forward to going and seeing how it all happens.
We arranged for the shoot to take place in a few days. I'd already sent a message to the photographer the night before warning him that I was attending with Julie, also that I was hearing and visually impaired, could he make sure I was sat out of harms way. :)
I then got a bright idea (with a bucket load of courage from somewhere) and before I knew it, I'd sent a message to the photographer asking if he'd be interested in including me in the mix! Waaaaaargh what are you thinking woman. :-O
Retreat! Retreat! RETREAT!!
He replied.................yes! (Lynne has now fainted)
The day arrives, the only person that knows, I am included in the photo shoot apart from my friend is my mum. I am dropped off at my friends house and we are both battling with nerves. We set off to the unknown...........
We arrive at our destination, my stomach has dropped out, I've said to Julie, I can already see it's going to be dark in there and I'm going into hell. We go into this very big house and I'm being guided by Julie.
We have a quick chat and acquaint ourselves with our new friends and I choke on my cup of tea, you can't take me anywhere!
The moment has arrived and we are taken to the room where costumes are kept (again it's dark even with the light on) I can't see all the costumes that are being shown to me, so I have to be completely honest and say I can't see a thing, you'll have to help me.
Bearing in mind, I am most definitely a plus size and I'm already dreading trying to squeeze into a costume, I am having to rely on others to say yes or no to outfit and accessories as well as my physique. Hard work is an understatement. :-p
Once dressed, we go to the studio, which is upstairs in an attic room, it's still dark for me until we are actually in front of the lights for the photographs.
We are then photographed individually and together with one outfit change.
Whilst being photographed it was nerve wracking because being in the bright lights, I still couldn't see or hear anyone very well, so I asked to be placed in position and shouted at. :-p
I have to say despite being nervous and feeling foolish (A LOT) we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and are very glad we went for it. WE MIGHT EVEN CONSIDER GOING BACK!
I always wanted to work, I'd never considered that getting something part time around my studies would be an issue because "I know my own capabilities" clearly few others understood or wanted to understand, at least that's how it felt.
Both my brothers had part time jobs in local supermarkets whilst doing their A levels, both are sighted and hearing and neither had a problem getting employment.
Neither particularly liked the job but it was pocket money and as my Dad always says "Good grounding" working with the public.
They were both employed to work at the checkout which meant sitting at an electronic till that scanned and did all the adding up, totalling and even told them how much change to give to the customer.
I know fully well I could have carried out that job with only minor modifications and a little consideration for myself and my guide dog but I was never given the chance.
I applied for job after job to be told, I'm sorry not hiring or my application just completely ignored. I began to feel despondent and very negative about myself.
My friends all had part time jobs and as a result they also worked during the school holidays and made new friends, once again my condition, although invisible isolated me from people, things and experiences.
The feeling of rejection as a teenager was very painful and although I wanted to just give up something inside told me not to.
Then just after my 18th Birthday the local pub had a new landlord and was looking for bar staff and after an interview of sorts he, knowing my condition decided to give me a chance, I was so excited and absolutely loved that job.
Fully aware of my disability and my guide dog the landlord was very accepting. There were a few broken glasses and calamities but, I think on the whole all went ok until two things happened!
The first one was that winter came and the dark nights, the lighting in the pub became incredibly difficult but I enjoyed being in the pub, meeting people, being part of a team, it felt good to be out there doing it.
Then I went on holiday with my family and when I came back my job had gone!
Sorry no hours for you Molly, followed by no replies to my texts and that was that.
I was devastated and to this day do not know why I was ignored and rejected in this way. It was painful and crushed my confidence and totally unprofessional an attitude.
It took me quite some time to get my confidence back and to start looking for part time work again but in the meantime I worked for my Dad when I could and always happy to carry our charity work to keep busy.
Then I was fortunate enough to learn of a job with a well known local retailer and to get an interview, I was delighted but so nervous as I knew my disability had to be explained and I also knew how few people understand Usher Syndrome.
The common misconception that deafblind always means hear nothing and see nothing and the shock that I can speak too! I can also communicate with BSL and tactile signing but neither are my chosen method of communication, however, I learnt it to communicate with those who sign as a first language.
A long chat with my parents and friends made me feel better and up for the challenge.
I was very nervous on interview day and it didn't help that I arrived slightly late and the hotel receptionist didn't have a clue where the interviews were being held but after some discussion with a colleague directed me by saying and pointing "You go up there and round the corner and its a room down there" - I'm blind, I couldn't see where she was pointing and where is "there" anyway?
After asking for better instruction I got where I needed to be and in I went.
It was a group interview and I could sense people looking at me.
Thankfully they were a friendly bunch and I was made to feel at ease.
The interview certainly made me think a lot, not just about my responses but to the responses of the others at the interview.
I found myself feeling quite confident and able to be myself.
At the end of the interview I was quite sensitively asked about my disability and I have to honest I'd rather be asked and give an honest answer to any question than for others to assume.
I wasn't sure how the interview went but I decided positive or negative result this was a good experience for me as if nothing else I had made each of the people at the interview aware of Usher Syndrome and that has to be a good thing.
Being invited for a second interview was great for my confidence but this time I was nervous not just because I really wanted the job but that my guide dog and I had to negotiate London in the rush hour which is quite a challenge in itself.
I won't go into great detail about the interview except to say as nervous as I felt I was able to be myself and to explain myself, however I was very anxious about my journey home!
As a result I did leave the interview without staying to ask questions which I wasn't happy about, however, I did take the time to email my questions and explain my reason for not staying behind at the end.
I was offered the part time position, both myself and my guide dog feel very welcomed and accepted and I thoroughly enjoy the job.
I feel a valued member of staff, I just wish all companies were as open minded as this one.
Sadly there is too much ignorance of disability in the workplace and it needs to change.
Awareness and understanding is all it takes and we can do the rest.....