Rob from Mapperley lives with a dual sensory impairment caused by Ushers Syndrome. He is registered partially sighted and wears hearing aids.
“I was diagnosed with Ushers at the age of 30. My vision started to go first; I have tunnel vision so it’s like looking through a pair of binoculars all the time. I’ve also lost my hearing so I wear two hearing aids.
“I used to be a motor mechanic and when I was told I had to give up driving I cried like a baby. I lost my job, a large amount of independence and it felt as if my world had come to an end.
“As a former mechanic, I’m quite a hands-on person, I like to be creative and since I lost my sight I’ve come to love expressing myself in arts of all kinds. I’ve designed Christmas cards for My Sight Notts, played leading roles in its drama performances and most recently joined the choir.
“When I first heard about the choir I assumed it would be impossible for me to sing in a group because I can’t even hear the sound of my own voice! I can’t follow a beat and I was sure I wouldn’t be able to sing in time with the choir.
“The Art Coordinator had other ideas though! First, they sat me close to someone I could lip-read the words from which helped, but I still struggled with the timing and with keeping the beat. Then another choir member suggested I sit next to her and put my hand on her shoulder close to her throat so that I could feel the vibration when she sings.
“I’m now fully involved in the choir and people tell me I have a lovely singing voice – which is amazing to me as I can’t hear myself. I’ve slowly built up my confidence to the point where I’m happy to sing in public with the choir. If you’d asked me a year ago if I could sing in a choir I’d have said no, how could someone who is deaf and blind sing with a choir, it still sounds daft just saying it!”