Student has a vision if not the sight

SHABNAM DASTGHEIB
BREAKING NEWS REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2012
SHEER DETERMINATION: Amanda Cameron has not let Usher Syndrome stop her from studying architecture.
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
SHEER DETERMINATION: Amanda Cameron has not let Usher Syndrome stop her from studying architecture.

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Amanda Cameron was born profoundly deaf and has gradually worsening vision, but the 23-year-old is determined not to let that stand between her and a career in architecture.

Originally from Gisborne, Cameron moved to Wellington five years ago to study. She was born with Usher Syndrome, an incurable genetic disorder which causes deafblindness, and has no way of knowing how much worse her condition will get.

For the moment, she has cochlear implants, surgically implanted to help her hear one-on-one speech, and gradually worsening tunnel vision.

"If and when it gets worse I will need a cane or seeing dog," she said.

"Also, I haven't and never will get my driver licence either. It's a bit daunting thinking about the future so I don't focus on that and make the most of each day."

Cameron, who wants to be an architectural technician, is in the final stages of a correspondence course.

Her love of the subject came from playing with Lego when she was young – "it probably grew from that, and when I drew floor plans in Graphics in third form I fell in love and never looked back."

She was recently appointed the leader of the Wellington-based support group for those with deafblindness and said it was nice to meet others and "hang out", as she had felt isolated when she first found out about her condition.

Wellington deafblind co-ordinator Elinor Cuttiford has known Cameron for more than a year and said her drive and determination were immediately apparent.

"She is a very intelligent girl. She can be quite shy but that hides a real ability to get things moving. She strikes me as somebody who follows through with her goals."

Cuttiford said there were only about 10 people with Usher Syndrome in the Wellington region.

Cameron has type 1 Usher Syndrome, which means profound deafness and balance problems from birth and decreased night vision from the age of 10.

She said accepting the syndrome and learning to be more confident had made her a stronger person.

"I struggled a lot with having to deal with Usher's and bottled it up through my teens. I didn't really have anyone to talk to so I was very quiet.

"I also felt really depressed about it but since then I have been more open about it ... just got to keep positive."

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- The Dominion Post

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