Molly Watt | Molly Watt Talks | Maidenhead, UK
Positive Role Model (Disability)
My name is Molly Watt, age 24.
I was born severely deaf and at 18 months old was fitted with my first pair of hearing aids. Life was difficult, in fact I did not speak properly until I was around 6 years old.
Being deaf was a challenge in a mainstream environment, however I was a determined happy child with lots of support and understanding I coped very well.
Unfortunately for me blindness was coming down the line. At 12 years old I was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome (deafblindness). That happy confident child with great support and understanding became that bewildered young person, often misunderstood and very unhappy in a world that was becoming very dark and frightening. At 14 I was registered blind and at 16 I was matched with my first guidedog.
For me nothing was straight forward anymore, I struggled to find a place of belonging. I suffered with depression, I was not just deaf or blind and there was no support network for young adults with usher syndrome. Together with the support from my parents I got involved with other charities in an attempt to bring young adults together and it was as a result of this work that I finally met some others with my condition.
With the help of my parents we set up the Molly Watt Trust, its set up was specifically to raise awareness of Usher Syndrome, to bring people with Usher together and to fundraise and provide assistive technology for those living with the condition. Today I mentor several young adults with my condition alongside my other work.
From here we used social media to get more people with usher syndrome together and along the way recruited some older people with the condition who could offer support and nurturing to people like myself.
As things in education failed me over and over through not just lack of awareness of my condition and needs but also a complete lack of access to books, coursework and lecturers. The list went on and on.
It became clear to me that my direction would be to enable digital accessibility for all.
I managed to get myself a part time position at Apple where I got excellent accessibility training and made it my business to become as efficient at both using their products and educating the deaf, blind and deafblind communities on their accessibility features and how to make the most of the plethora of available apps.
After a torrid life at both senior school and university I chose to move on and use my new skills in digital to assist others. Initially by blogging. My first tech blog went viral as I believe it was the one of the first pieces written by somebody totally reliant on technology applewatch http:// www.mollywatt.com/blog/entry/my-apple-watch-after-5-days
This was just the beginning. Alongside my charity work I then, again with the help of my parents, set up my own company and am currently an accessibility and usability consultant working both with other organisations and independently.
I travel the world for both charity and work and have had the fortune to speak to numerous large digital organisations about both usher syndrome awareness and the importance of digital accessibility, environmental accessibility and awareness.
Digital giants like Apple and Linkedin invited me to their California HQ’s to discuss accessibility, very open to listening and learning.
I am passionate about making a difference for others and have somehow combined my condition with employment to make the world both more accessible and inclusive.
I am deafblind “can do, will do” person making the most of what I have in a world that must and will improve for future generations.