1. Can you share with us what retinal eye disease you have and when you were diagnosed?
I was initially born with a moderate to severe hearing loss. At age 16 I began to lose my ability to see at night. After a severe cycling accident, I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. The combination of the hearing loss and sight loss is associated with Usher Syndrome.
2. Did vision loss have any impact on your education choices?
At first, it did impact my decision making process, as I always had to keep in mind that my vision could be very different later in life. However, my passion for art and design has always lead me on a certain path. I attended The Ontario College of Art and Design and graduated from the Interior Design Program.
3. What do you do for a living? How have you adapted your career to your vision loss?
I am a designer and have been in the design field for 8 years, specializing in kitchen + bathroom design. One of the main reasons, I choose OCAD was its location in downtown Toronto. Knowing that I would not be driving, I knew I had to rely on public transit and taxi services. My strengths in computers was also another reason why I chose to specialize in a field which relied on CAD.
4. Can you share with us how vision loss has impacted your relationships?
Initially it was hard to explain my vision to loss as it was not apparent. But overtime as I learn to share my story with others, it was easier to explain.
5. It’s no secret that vision loss can lead to anxiety and depression. How do you maintain emotional balance?
Perseverance and knowing that I have a strong support team through friends, family and loved ones. I also believe that with today’s modern technology has made a lot of things easier.
6. What accessibility aids can you not live without?
The internet. Being able to look up places, know where they are and what to expect.
7. Our 2012 Toronto Vision Quest Youth Panel agreed that we all ‘hate’ 3D movies, revolving doors and garbage days. What’s your pet peeve?
Wet Floor Signs, Long Dog Leashes, and Fire Hydrants!
8. If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self about vision loss, what would you say?
Experience as much as you can.