Deaf and blind: recycling your smart phone could make all the difference to someone like Linda

Deaf and blind: recycling your smart phone could make all the difference to someone like Linda

THE thought of being deaf or blind is enough to fill most of us with unease.

Losing one of the senses on which we are most reliant for safety and survival, not to mention entertainment, would chill most readers.

So imagine losing both your sight and your hearing, and think of the challenges you’d face every day.

That’s precisely the position Linda Fistonich is in.

Linda, 54, was born with a condition known as optic atropathy, which meant her limited vision slowly deteriorated until, at age eight, she was blind.

Crushingly, she started losing her hearing at the same time.

Her hearing loss grew worse over the years, and she now has two cochlear implants.

Linda, who worked for Community Newspaper Group part-time for 18 years, now lives alone in a retirement village in Perth.

Despite being dealt a tough hand, Linda has made huge strides recently in becoming less reliant on others.

“I used to be very dependent and I have come a long way in the last six months,” she said.

“I am quite well off living independently, although I do receive help with going to medical appointments and food shopping.”

Linda reads Braille, and has not let her lack of vision or hearing stop her from leading an active social and work life.

“In my spare time I edit the village monthly newsletter,” she said.

“I like reading and emailing people around the world and love to interact with people from all ages and backgrounds.

“I have come across many friends in the village and I’m always happy to participate in happy hours and morning teas held here.”

Smart phones have become a game changer for many people who are dead and blind, and Linda’s use of a Braille iPhone helps her to email and text even in noisy and crowded environments.

“Blind people I have come across use smart phones and GPS to help them navigate their way around and it is a great help to them,” Linda said.

But many people without sight or hearing struggle to access smart phones, which is why not-for-profit body Able Australia is encouraging people to help the deafblind by recycling their old phones.

The phones will be used to improve the digital literacy of the deafblind community, increasing their mobility and independence.

“Nine out of 10 deafblind people will experience depression and anxiety and the simple act of donating an unwanted phone is an easy way to show your support to Australia’s deafblind community,” Able Australia’s Scott Darkin said.

You can donate an unwanted smartphone free of charge from anywhere in Australia by visiting mobilemuster.com.au/able.

Simply download the free reply-paid label, package up your old smartphone and charger, attach the label and post it back.