A St Albans audiologist with a rare genetic condition that impacts sound and sight is helping others to hear.

Emma Handford, who works at Specsavers St Albans, was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that mainly affects a person’s hearing and vision.

It caused her to end her career as a plumber, but she began working as NHS medical secretary within paediatric audiology, earning a degree from Aston University in hearing aid audiology and ear wax removal and a BSc Honours from Anglia Ruskin University in hearing science.

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She now uses her experience and expertise as a clinical audiologist in Specsavers across St Albans, while also raising awareness for Usher Syndrome.

"For the past 19 years, I have lived with a condition that has caused my eyesight to deteriorate slowly," said Emma.

"I needed a guide dog and canes to get around, but I never let it hinder me. I’ve been able to achieve so much despite it and I know that this can be the case for many more people with Usher Syndrome.

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"Having a hearing loss has been a strength as it gives me first-hand experience in what it is like living with a hearing loss and makes me a better audiologist. Patients love that I wear hearing aids and can give personalised advice.

"Working in St Albans has allowed me to help more people because we are a fully accessible hearing hub."