Molly Watt is a young speaker, vlogger, and author who is Deaf-Blind and advocates for people who have Usher Syndrome, the condition she has. Watt has created an awareness video about the syndrome, as well as an open-captioned vlog about technology she uses daily to assist her with both hearing and vision loss that comes from having Usher Syndrome.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Usher Syndrome is a genetic disease or disorder that affects both hearing and vision and is one of the leading causes of deaf-blindness.
Symptoms of the syndrome include:
- deafness or hearing loss,
- balance problems,
- retinitis pigmentosa, which causes night-blindness, and
- a loss of peripheral vision (side vision) through the progressive degeneration of the retina.
Retinitis pigmentosa eventually causes “tunnel vision,” where a person can only see straight ahead.
There are three types of Usher Syndrome, ranging from Type 1, where children are born profoundly deaf, have problems with balance, and eventually become legally blind, to Type 3, where children may have normal hearing at birth, and gradually lose hearing, vision, and balance.
According to the institute, early diagnosis of Usher syndrome is important so parents can enroll their children in training programs to manage hearing and vision loss.
Typically, treatment will include:
- hearing aids,
- assistive listening devices,
- cochlear implants,
- communication methods such as American Sign Language;
- orientation and mobility training;
- communication services; and
- independent-living training that may include Braille instruction, low-vision services, or auditory training.
Sign language can be a vital tool for communication for people who have advanced Usher Syndrome, since people without hearing or sight may choose to communicate using Deaf-Blind Tactile with an interpreter. This process allows the person with deafblindness to feel the interpreter’s hands as they sign.
Sign Shares, Inc./International provides services for people who are Deaf-Blind, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing, as well as for people who are Foreign Language Hearing.
Learn more about Molly Watt and her mission to educate others about Usher Syndrome at http://www.mollywatt.com/.