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Sheryl finds new independence after rapid vision loss

in Latest News, Stories of Independence

For Mandurah’s Sheryl Wood, adapting to life with disability has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Earlier this year Sheryl became legally blind after developing an extremely rare condition called persistent placoid maculopathy.

Sheryl lost 85% of her vision over a period of just six weeks. She has had to adapt to life with limited vision very quickly, and is now reassessing her goals and expectations.

Close up of a hand holding a white cane with park in the background
Sheryl has acquired a white cane and learned new skills to travel within the community.

“I’m very independent and like to do things myself. I’ve tried to continue doing all the things I used to do. It has been difficult for me to step back and ask for help.”

Since April, Sheryl has been working with VisAbility’s professionals to re-learn to live as independently as possible. She’s acquired a white cane and learned new skills to travel within the community, and attended sessions on how to use her phone and computer more easily.

Importantly, Sheryl has had someone to talk her through the many questions and concerns along the way.

“The counsellors and occupational therapists – in fact, everyone I’ve spoken to from Visibility – has been fantastic. They’ve supported me by just being there when I need them,” Sheryl said.

Sheryl is now rediscovering her independence, making day trips to Rockingham and Perth on the train to visit friends, and heading to local footy matches to support her team, the Mandurah Mustangs.

I’m open to learning new things and attending courses. I like to make people laugh. If I can make the oldies laugh, then I know I’ve had a good day!

On 1 July 2017 the State government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will begin to roll out across Western Australia, including in Mandurah and Rockingham.

The scheme is set to transform the lives of people with disability, enabling them, along with their families and carers, to design, plan and implement their own supports and services.

VisAbility has been working with people in the Mandurah and Rockingham regions to help them to understand the scheme roll out and how to make the best decisions for the life they want to live.

As the local occupational therapist for VisAbility Mandurah, I work alongside clients like Sheryl to determine the goals they’d like to achieve.

“We work together on strategies and equipment to best support their needs. This is just one of the many services we offer,” said Jaimi Andrews, Occupational Therapist.

We are holding an information session at Lotteries House on Tuesday 13 June for people with disability and carers in the Mandurah and Rockingham region.

For more information or to find out how you can access support, call (08) 9311 8205 or email