An architecture student from Claudy has overcome his own eyesight difficulties and is now helping children through an inspirational project being run by RNIB NI.
Danny Cartin (24), has been partially sighted all his life due to the conditions oculo-cutaneous albinism and nystagmus. Undeterred by his sight issues, Danny was the guest MC for a ‘Realise your potential’ celebration of the key achievements of children and young people with sight loss hosted by the RNIB NI in Belfast on Tuesday last, April 19 at the Odeon Cinema.
In 2014, Danny gained invaluable job experience in a work environment, when he accepted a 12-week paid work placement with RNIB NI through the project, which will benefit him both now, as he studies architecture at the University of Ulster, and later when he progresses in his career.
“Growing up, our sight loss was never a big thing in our house,” said Danny.
“Yes, there were a few things that me or my sister, Shannon, couldn’t do, but at the same time we had the attitude of ‘try it anyway and see what happens’. When you gain new skills, you gain more confidence and independence.
“If you live with sight loss or any disability, I think you really have to come to terms with it if you’re going to get on so I would really recommend a project like this,” he said.
Danny now volunteers with RNIB NI as he is keen to give back some of the support he received through the Realise project.
He currently helps other young people affected by sight loss who might be struggling with low self-confidence, false limitations and learning to speak more openly about their sight loss.
The event in Belfast celebrated their individual achievements through a series of live musical performances, accessible technology demonstrations and personal stories from Duke of Edinburgh participants.
Funded by the Big Lottery Fund in Northern Ireland, the Realise project provides key transitions support to children and young people living with sight loss.
The project has supported and empowered 150 children over the past three years.
It helps participants develop the skills and confidence to make the move from primary to post primary settings, into third level education and onto employment.
Now entering its fourth year, the Realise project team are thrilled to see the participants thrive through activities such as one to one swimming, music tuition, and following careers guidance. Another vital aspect of the project was providing children and young people with one to one IT lessons or group IT workshops to learn about available assistive technology such as screen reading or magnification software like JAWS or Zoomtext.
The use of these technologies removes many barriers to education and employment for people with sight loss.
To get in touch with RNIB NI’s Realise project team, telephone 02890 329373 or go online at rnib.org.uk/realise.