Janice Tillett's story
Janice Tillett, 43, lives in Northampton with her husband and seven year old daughter Mary-Elizabeth. She was born with a visual impairment which deteriorated and she then discovered she had a hearing impairment. Janice is now completely blind but is able to use bone anchor hearing aids to enable her to have some hearing.
Janice used to work, but now spends much of her time volunteering for local charities and campaigning. She has several good friends, but would like the opportunity to socialise more and has found that there are lots of barriers to friendship.
“Going for a coffee and meeting up with friends can be hard. If you need to arrange transport well in advance you can’t be spontaneous. You need to arrive at a set time and leave at a set time. If I’m having a good time, I can’t stay longer if my taxi has come to pick me up."
Janice receives support to help her care for her daughter, Mary-Elizabeth, but has in the past found it challenging to socialise with other parents.
"When I had my daughter it was hard for me at mother and baby groups. They often lay out the chairs in a semi-circle and I would find myself stuck right on the end with my support worker between me and the other mums. That would make it hard to talk to them and make friends.
"Sometimes I have to choose between a social life for my daughter and one for me. If I only get a certain number of hours social care a week I can’t see all of my friends and help Mary-Elizabeth see hers."
Although professional communication support is essential for many deafblind people it is important that this doesn’t become a barrier to friendship in its self.
"Getting the right support worker is really important. I’ve been in situations where a support worker takes over and involves themselves in the conversation rather than supporting me. It can make you feel left out and that isn’t the point."
First published: Tuesday 17 February 2015
Updated: Tuesday 22 December 2015