“I cannot imagine my life without technology,” says Molly Watt, a Deafblind UK member, accessibility and usability consultant and social media superstar.
Molly’s journey with technology began in infancy, when she started to wear a hearing aid aged 18 months. Throughout junior school, as technology progressed, her hearing aids became more sophisticated and Molly felt as though they were part of her, along with her radio aid, helping her to filter out extraneous noise.
Sadly, life became more difficult for Molly at senior school. At age 12, she was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome and her hearing and sight began to worsen. As a result of bullying and lack of understanding from her peers, Molly isolated herself – something for which she is grateful today as it gave her the chance to learn about assistive technology.
In Molly’s teenage years her parents gifted her a Macbook, which would prove to be instrumental in shaping her lifestyle for years to come. It had built-in assistive technology, allowing Molly to research her condition further. She also created a series of Usher Syndrome awareness videos, which led her to win the Sense Young Deafblind Person of the Year in 2010, aged 16.
By the time Molly got to college, she was equipped with an iPhone and a Kindle too. Molly says her college had a “can-do” attitude, and she and her guide dog Unis were welcomed by her peers. Unfortunately, despite her accessible learning in college, this did not carry on when she reached university, and she eventually chose to leave after struggling to learn with the limited options available.
Instead, Molly dedicated herself to fighting for better accessibility, and regularly spoke publicly about her cause. She later produced a blog detailing the latest finds in technology, for example, the highly accessible Apple Watch. Her blog went viral and it was with this new-found internet fame that Molly managed to discover GN Resound, who produce Linx2 smart hearing aids. Today, as a result of this technology, Molly is able to connect her devices, hear clearer sounds, communicate in small groups and hear and speak on the phone.
Thanks to today’s huge advancements in assistive technology, Molly is now a self-employed accessibility and usability consultant. “I shudder at the thought of where I would be without my “enabling toolkit,” says Molly. “I believe these should be available to everybody who would benefit as much as me.”
This article for Deafblind UK’s bi-monthly magazine, Open Hand, tells the story of member Molly Watt’s experiences with assistive technology.
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