Funding Helps Teen with Visual and Hearing Impairment Drive for First Time
A Newport teenager with severe visual and hearing impairment has gone behind the wheel of a car for the first time thanks to a charity.
Emma Gaylard, of Newport, who has Stickler Syndrome, had the chance to drive a car through the charity Sense, who support people who are deafblind or who have sensory impairments or complex needs.
The charity recently received a grant of more than £414,500 from the Big Lottery Fund to provide tailored support for 50 deafblind and multi-sensory impaired young people across South East Wales.
Through a link up between Sense and a local driving school, 18-year-old Ms Gaylard was able to drive on the top floor of St David’s car park in Cardiff, for the very first time.
Ms Gaylard said: “I didn’t know how well I’d get on with it, and I was really nervous but after I finished the driving the instructor said I was really good. It was brilliant being able to drive – something I never thought I’d do.
“I was diagnosed with Stickler Syndrome when I was about 10 months old which means I’m totally blind in my right eye, and I can only see a little out of my left eye.
“I wear two hearing aids, I’m totally deaf in my right ear with my hearing aids out, and I’m partially deaf in my left ear.”
With the grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Bright New Futures programme, Sense Cymru are delivering their Being Me project that gives beneficiaries access to peer support, residential programmes, activities, and an information bank that helps them to develop new relationships.
Ms Gaylard was able to enrol at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford in 2015 because of the project and feels like she has had the support she needs to make the most of herself.
She said: “The Being Me project has helped me gain independence, increase my confidence, and make new friends that I didn’t have before. I’ve also started helping other people, and raising awareness of my condition and similar conditions.
“It is different to standard children’s services, they help you make the transition from childhood to adulthood.”
Story and Photograph with thanks to the South Wales Argus