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There is no stopping Sharyn

Despite having Usher Syndrome, Halls Head resident Sharyn continues to live the life she chooses, by working for the Department of Premier and Cabinet and participating in her community – including organising a Bibbulmun Track walk in August 2014.

Sharyn says the most difficult day to day challenge for her personally is best described as ‘trying to see in a seeing world with little vision’.

“It’s hard work and coupled with my hearing loss makes it doubly so.  Commuting to work via bus, train and taxi’s three hours a day, three days a week is a challenge in many varying ways.  Educating others regarding my dual sensory loss is a full time job in itself,” says Sharyn.

Usher Syndrome is an inherited condition resulting in partial or total hearing loss from birth and gradual loss of vision from Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Sharyn is able to continue to work and live a positive life with the help of Senses Australia’s Deafblind Services.

“Senses Australia support me in all sorts of capacities, mainly by helping me to connect with other people who have Usher Syndrome by providing activities, get togethers, plus many sporting and social events that I would normally not be able to participate in because of my dual disabilities.

“The Usher Syndrome Support group, which is supported by Senses Australia, has been a major factor in helping me diversify my work and social life.  I am supported by a social worker who is very skilled in the areas of assessing what it is I need as well as keeping me informed and updated regarding what is happening in the world of vision and hearing loss,” says Sharyn.

“I am also phasing myself gradually from a seeing person to a non-seeing person by learning techniques and using equipment that people who are blind use on a daily basis.  I’ll soon be learning how to use a text to speech software program on my work and home computers – this will be a challenge in itself because of my hearing loss, but I have bi-lateral cochlear implants, so I am confident I will do well.”

Matthew Wittorff, Senses Australia’s Manager Deafblind Services says Sharyn is a courageous person who, despite her hearing and vision loss, won’t let anything stand in her way.

“Sharyn is organising an exciting venture, with a group of people who also have Usher Syndrome, by coordinating a Bibbulmun Track walk.  Their mission is to show the world that if they can defy adversity, by conquering their own worst nightmare, then so too can anyone – no matter what adversity they may face,” says Matthew.

Senses Australia is celebrating Deafblind Awareness Week 2014 from Monday, 23 June 2014 to Sunday, 29 June 2014.  The 2014 theme for this international week is ‘we don’t need to see or hear in order to touch the world around us’.

To find out more about how Senses Australia supports the Western Australian community and provides support services to people of all ages with disability or to people who are deafblind, visit