A deaf and blind student who was told she would not be able to go to university has graduated from Abertay University.
Lisa Halley was born deaf and was diagnosed with the rare Usher Syndrome, which causes partial or total loss of sight and hearing, at the age of 21
Now 29, she admits she found her diagnosis hard to accept but she was determined it would not hold her back and this week she graduated from Abertay University with a psychology degree.
“To be honest, I was terrified,” said Liza.
“I have been deaf and proud all of my life, but this seemed like something that could take my dreams away.
“At the time I couldn’t imagine even getting to university, let alone reaching my fourth year and graduating.”
“It knew that it may not be easy, but I also knew that it was what I wanted to do. Not everyone encouraged me, in fact, I was told more than once that university wasn’t a place for someone like me, that I should apply to work for a company that employs disabled people.”
Before applying to university, Lisa attended college and her eyesight deteriorated rapidly, leading to her first guide dog, Jumble.
“Jumble wasn’t only my first guide dog, she was my first ever dog,” she said.
“When I got her in 2016 she changed my life. She has been with me from day one at university and not only has she been my eyes and ears, but she’s also been my best friend.
“She gave me my confidence back, and she actually inspired my dissertation which assessed the impact of having a guide dog on mental health.”
Lisa also paid tribute to the support of her family, friends and university staff who supported her.
She said: “I have been trying to have as many adventures as possible before I lose my sight completely and I’ve created a wish list.
“With the current pandemic, it’s difficult to know what I’ll do next, but I do know that I want to help people.
“I want to share my experience with others to show them that no matter who you are, where you’re from or what disabilities you have, if you have a dream you can achieve it.
“If someone tries to burst your bubble, it’s fun to prove them wrong.”
Abertay’s virtual graduation will be held on Friday at 7pm at www.abertay.ac.uk/life/graduation