Learning how to drive is a standard milestone in most teenagers’ lives. But for Emma Gaylard, from Newport , getting the hang of parking and turning corners was harder than for most – because she is deafblind.
The 18-year-old has a severe visual and hearing impairment which has been with her for most of her life. When she was 10 months old, she was diagnosed with Stickler Syndrome, which left her blind in her right eye and partially sighted in her left. She also wears two hearing aids. With the support of Sense, a charity that supports people who are deafblind, have sensory impairments or complex needs, she was able to get behind the wheel.
Emma said: “I didn’t know how well I’d get on with it, and I was really nervous but after I finished the actual driving the instructor said that I was really good. It was brilliant being able to drive – something I never thought I’d do.
“We went to the top floor of St David’s car park in Cardiff, and because I couldn’t see I got a bit scared and thought I might drive off the edge! I’ve done proper driving, parking between cones, and driving around corners.
She added: “The driving instructors were really helpful for me to tell me how much I needed to turn the wheel, how fast I needed to go – they needed to be clear because I’m multi-sensory impaired and it’s a lot harder for me to do even simple driving. I couldn’t see where I was going!”