"I have deformity of both my hands and my feet. While this limited my life a little, I was able to do most things other people did.
I left school with few qualifications but had a desire to better myself and went on to complete BTEC General and OND courses. Finding employment in the 1980s was difficult but I was lucky enough to enter the Civil Service as a registry clerk. I had always wanted to be an accountant and was fortunate to be given the opportunity to move into finance.
I had the first signs of my eye problems around this time. I was away from work for about three months but after this time things seemed to settle down. Regular visits to the Queen Alexandra Hospital followed to keep the situation in check.
However, I was not progressing in my career as I wished so I undertook a BTEC HNC in Business and Finance at Highbury College. With this extra qualification I was able to gain promotion and secure a place on a Ministry of Defence training programme, qualifying as a CIMA accountant at the age of 30.
When I reached 40, I started having more significant sight problems and was referred to Moorfields Hospital in London. My right eye had worsened and both vision and comfort were affected. I was given contact lenses which helped for some time. However, about six years later my left eye also started to worsen and I had to stop driving.
Two years ago, I was retired on medical grounds. Before retiring, I was unable to see when I woke and would feel my way around the house before my eyes eventually 'came round’. My eyes are a little better now, especially without the strain of screen work for eight hours a day, and I am learning at Highbury about the support technology that is available.
Undertaking the training at Highbury Specialist Support Visually Impaired Centre with Mary Anne has enabled me to trial different software solutions for screen magnification and `text to speech’. This has assisted me in gaining part-time employment at a local social enterprise. It has taken a while to overcome the feeling of loss I have because of my visual problems but I now look forward to the next chapter of my life."