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Telmo De Sousa

Portugal-born Telmo De Sousa has lived in Norwich for 17 years, and works as a customer adviser for a large telecoms business. He has been severely visually-impaired from birth, with the rare genetic condition rod monochromatism. Despite this, he is fiercely independent, and despite meeting many barriers along the way, has built a life and career for himself.

It was his experiences, coupled with his knowledge of technology, which inspired him to offer his skills on a voluntary basis to Vision Norfolk at the start of this year. Meeting visually-impaired customers in store, he realised that many were struggling to find help in setting up technology such as mobile phones and tablets, as well as sourcing apps which might help them live more independent lives.

“I realised that there is an information gap which is making it difficult for visually-impaired people to access technology,” says Telmo, who is 38 and lives in the city with his partner and three year-old daughter. “I use technology every day, and know how helpful it can be, and I recognised that I might be able to use my skills and experience to help other people living with sight loss.”

Telmo approached Vision Norfolk with the idea of producing a series of YouTube videos for visually-impaired people explaining how to access technology. The first of these are now live on the charity’s YouTube channel, and Telmo is busy making more. They cover all kinds of topics from setting up a mobile phone to finding apps which can help with daily life.

“I enjoy sharing my experiences and using my tech skills to help other visually-impaired people, “ he says. “Volunteering is really fulfilling, and it is also helping my career, as my employer encourages us to get involved with the community.

To anyone living with sight loss, Telmo has one message: get involved. “It’s easy to think ‘I can’t help’, or to regard yourself as the recipient of support rather than someone who can provide it. But the knowledge and experience of living with a visual impairment makes you an ideal person to help others finding their way on their sight loss journey, whether it’s using a specialist skill like I have got, or simply being a friendly ear to offer some moral support.”