Piano and painting adds colour to Usher Syndrome sufferer’s life

Wilma Brass uses bright colour to help deal with Usher Syndrome.
Wilma Brass uses bright colour to help deal with Usher Syndrome.

BENTLEY resident Wilma Brass spends hours playing her favourite tunes on the piano or perfecting her painting portraits with splashes of colour.

But with two sensory disabilities, Ms Brass does these activities a little differently.

At age 26, Ms Brass was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome, which left her with both vision and hearing impairments.

She uses three different pairs of glasses for different situations, has two sets of hearing aids, uses a blind cane and a walking cane and has recently acquired a walker to assist her at the shops.

While Ms Brass said Usher Syndrome did present her with a number of challenges, in some aspects it hade made her life much brighter.

“It sure has made my life more colourful, literally,” she said.

“I need colour to be able to see, black and white or light and dark colours are a lot harder for me to see.

“My home is equally filled with every colour of the rainbow plus a few extra.”

Deafblind Awareness Week runs until June 30 across Australia and aims to bring sensory disabilities to light.

As a client of Burswood-based organisation Senses Australia, Ms Brass said raising awareness for people with more than one sensory disability was extremely important.

“People do not get problems with dual sensory loss; they’ll come up with solutions that work for a blind person, but I’m deaf as well, as a disability goes it is very hard to grasp,” she said.

“A lot of elderly people are becoming deafblind and they don’t know what’s hit them, it’s so isolating.

“All of a sudden you can’t talk with family for you can’t hear what they’re saying, you can’t see what they’re doing or what they’re showing you.

“Adjusting to hearing aids alone takes time to get right, learning all these new skills is so hard when you’re aging.”

Before her official diagnosis, Ms Brass took up the piano and began drawing portraits as a creative outlet.

“I’ve played piano since I was 14, and as amateurs go I’m not bad in spite of the fact I am largely self-taught, disabilities not withstanding,” she said.

“It was only in the last few months I hit on a style of painting that I just find fun to do, very colourful and still representing the real thing but in a fun way.

“I suppose it must be difficult for people to grasp that on one hand I am really unable to do so many things.”

Senses Australia provides support to clients, helping them to learn appropriate ways to complete everyday tasks.

The organisation also hosts social events with other deafblind people, where people can exchange helpful tricks and mingle.

“Keeping a sense of humour is paramount, because things go wrong all the time,” Ms Brass said.

“The best way to deal with it is to see the funny side and of course, learning the appropriate new skills.”