A deaf and blind woman with a rare condition has described her heartbreaking diagnosis which meant she would never have the “freedom” of driving her car again.
Lisa Halley, 28, who is studying at Abertay University, was diagnosed with Usher syndrome when she was 21.
The condition means hearing and sight loss gradually become worse over time and it can eventually be lost completely.
Although born deaf, Lisa was not diagnosed until she was two-and-a-half.
She was told she had Ushers just 18 months after reaching the major milestone of driving a car.
And she admits the gradual process of losing her sight has been a strange experience as, slowly, less and less becomes clear.
Lisa said: “When I was 19, I passed my driving test but about a year and half later I was diagnosed with Ushers and was told I would eventually become fully blind and never drive again.
“I think being told I couldn’t drive any more was harder than being diagnosed with Ushers as, to me, driving was my own bit of freedom.
“My sight has deteriorated even more in the last year, which is really scary.
“I tell people it’s like looking through the tiny hole at the bottom of an ice cream cone.”
Five years ago, Lisa had cochlear implants which helped her hear certain sounds for the first time, such as the voices of family and friends and music.
Day to day, Lisa also uses sign language and lip reading to understand others.
The introduction of a guide dog into her life, Lisa says, has been a major turning point.
She added: “After my diagnosis of Ushers I was very low and scared of my future.
“I was frightened to leave my room. I didn’t know what my life would be like and that scared me – until my life changed when I was partnered with Jumble.
“She is a beautiful Lab retriever and is a dual guide dog who is both a trained guide dog and hearing dog.
“She is honestly the best gift I could ever receive and has helped me through depression, and all the good and tough times. She gave me my confidence back to go out.”
After completing the 25-mile Dundee Kiltwalk last year with friend Chris and Jumble, Lisa has decided to complete two of the events this year after describing crossing the finish line last year as a “very special moment”.
She will take part in the Glasgow Kiltwalk as well as the Aberdeen event, which will be in memory of her granddad.
Lisa said: “He always believed I could do anything.
“I would like to do Aberdeen in memory of him. He was a massive part of my life.”
All money raised from the Kiltwalks will go to Guide Dogs.
Over the years Lisa has raised more than £6,000 for the charity.
She is grateful to the charity for setting her up with her beloved Jumble and wants more people to be given the opportunity to have a guide dog.
Lisa added: “I am not the fittest or the most confident walker or runner, especially with my sight and balance.
“With Kiltwalk none of that matters. You all walk at your own speed, no one’s running past you, no one bothers if you are a fast or slow walker, you all do it as a team.
“Jumble is the reason I am doing the Kiltwalk so someone else can have their own life-changing pup.”