Blind and hearing-impaired photographer Brad Smith.
Blind and hearing-impaired photographer Brad Smith.

Brad is focussed on bright future

BRAD Smith is a photographer with more than 25 years experience.

He is also legally blind and hearing impaired, and will require the assistance of a guide dog for the rest of his life.

He has Usher syndrome, the most common genetic cause of combined vision and hearing impairment and deafblindness.

There is no cure.

But Mr Smith is not letting it stop him.

“My attitude is you don't necessarily need eyes or ears to understand the world around you,” Mr Smith said.

In 1998, Mr Smith was diagnosed with Usher syndrome, a progressive degeneration of vision and hearing.

He was forced to stop driving, close his cabinet-making business and was unable to continue his volunteer work as a lifesaver.

He now has one degree of vision in his left eye and two degrees in his right eye.

He is severely hearing impaired in his right ear, but photography is a part of his life and he won't give it up for anything.

“I feel a lot of my environment from within,” Mr Smith said.

“I go a lot from my memory of the environment.

“In my case it's a love of creating art and it shows in the images I'm creating.”

In the past three years, Mr Smith has been hit by cars three times.

The most recent incident was about three weeks ago.

“That's when it hit home that it was time to get a guide dog,” Mr Smith said.

“All this has given me more time, so now I am trying to pursue a real career in my photography.

“It's not an easy path, but some of the greatest things in life worth having and experiencing are rarely ever easy.”

Mr Smith has so far managed his mobility with a cane, however, he is looking forward to having the assistance of a guide dog in the coming months.

“Ultimately the relationship and teamwork would be an amazing experience and to say he/she would be my best mate would be an understatement,” Mr Smith said.

“They match the dog as closely as possible to the life-style of the person.”

People with Usher syndrome can gain support, including hearing aids, mobility training, Braille and guide dogs.

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