Skip to content

About Deafblindness


Lil Martin has experienced deteriorating sight and hearing for a number of years.  Heather Claridge is a volunteer for Senses who regularly visits Lil. Heather interviewed Lil and supported her to tell her story …

“I will be 84 this year; I am from Belfast Northern Ireland and have lived in Australia since 1955. I am a widow and have a son Jack and daughter Lynn who also live in the area.

I am deaf, a condition I believe was caused by working in a noisy linen factory in Belfast from the age of 15 years. In those days no ear protection was available for the workforce although not everyone suffered job associated deafness. In 1980 I had a stapedectomy on my left ear, after that I just had to live with the deafness and cope by wearing a hearing aid.

My eyesight has been affected by retinal artery occlusion. 25 years ago I experienced a buzzing over my head. I told my husband who took me to the GP. The doctor reported that I had blood in my ear caused by an abscess and gave me antibiotics! A few days later I had very little sight in my left eye! The GP referred me to a Specialist who said I had suffered a stroke.  A similar eye episode occurred subsequently and a vascular eye problem was diagnosed.

Five years ago on my return from the UK visiting family a similar eye problem occurred in my right eye. I now have no sight in my right eye and only 10% left in my left eye.”

Heather has had regular contact with Lil and her family through some difficult times and said:

“The last few years have been a catalogue of incidents for Lil. She fell in November 2010 whilst watering her neighbour’s garden and broke her hip. She was hospitalised for a period.

On Australia Day in 2011 Lil slipped in the bathroom and fractured her hip-another period in hospital and subsequently a nursing care home.

In August 2011 Lil fell in her kitchen and was very sick in hospital to the extent she was taken off all medication except painkillers for a while, again experiencing a considerable time in both the hospital and a nursing care home.

With a steely Irish will Lil has recovered sufficiently to live independently back in her unit with support from Brightwater Services, Lynn and Jack.”

Lil continues…

“At times I admit I get frustrated and miss being able to go out alone shopping.  I have had to get used to my disabilities and do the best I can.  I also miss the voluntary work I did for many years with both the Red Cross and the Mental Health Service.”

I can still manage a little crocheting and I am considering Talking Books as I miss being able to read. I was also an avid knitter, seamstress and gift maker for charity in my more able days.

I have been a member of Senses since 2009 and have aids to assist me. Senses supported me to apply for funding for some equipment. Because I can’t hear the doorbell or the telephone easily I have an alarm system that has a vibrating page that I wear. The pager vibrates when people ring the doorbell or the telephone rings or if the smoke alarm is activated. At night I have a bed shaker that would vibrate under my pillow if the smoke alarm was activated during the night. I also have headphones for the TV.

I have a reading monitor (video magnifier) but I am only able to use it to read for short periods these days

My involvement with Angela Wills, Deafblind Consultant at Senses has vastly improved my situation and ability to cope with my disabilities. Heather Claridge has been my Senses Volunteer and for some 3 years and we have formed a firm friendship over the many liaison visits.”

Lil said “Life is a terrific teacher and provides a way for you to cope with everything that happens and there are a lot of people worse off than me”…………………………

Back to stories

Published on January 6, 2016.