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April 30, 2004

From a silent world comes Nick's thriller

From: ic - London,England,UK - Apr 30, 2004

WE ALL take sight and sound for granted. One man has lost both senses - but has overcome his disabilities to fulfil an ambition to become an author. Brian Haran reports

NICK Sturley is both deaf and registered blind. The 36-year-old lives in a soundless world where his sight is also limited to tunnel vision, thanks to a gradual degeneration in his retinas caused by a condition called Usher Syndrome.

But he hasn't let either disability stand in his way.

Nick has overcome his difficulties produce a book and act as an advocate for others with similar disabilities.

Milan is a 248-page thriller about an unknown force which transforms the deaf community into hearing people, reducing sign language to near-extinction. Two deaf survivors go on the run from their pursuers, including villainess Redlips, and hunt for the Talisman of Signs which can thwart the force and prevent its world domination.

Nick, who lives in Brighton Road, Purley, said: "The novel was a challenge but, fortunately, I had the necessary support to fulfil my ambition. "I had special white-on-black software on my computer to help in both writing the story and doing the graphic design.

"I use the internet for research, as local libraries were virtually useless to me, and a close friend accompanied me to London to do location research."

More than three months and 80,000 words later, the book has been completed.

Nick first experienced problems with his vision while at a boarding school for deaf boys and developed tunnel vision and night blindness in his teens.

He spoke at a recent House of Commons reception to launch the findings of a national survey on services for deaf-blind people.

Speaking to an influential audience, which included Croydon North MP Malcolm Wicks and the Minister for Disabled People, Angela Eagle, he called for greater help for deaf-blind people, including the recruitment of more sign language specialists.

He said not enough was being done to help provide deaf-blind people and Usher Syndrome sufferers with British Sign Language, although many of the general deaf community were already benefiting from this.

Nick, who is also publicity co-ordinator for Usher UK, told the Advertiser: "There are some things I can do but others I can't or no longer can do. "For instance I can get around Purley town centre by myself as I know the place back to front but I would need a support person with me to, for instance, go to Tesco's at Purley Cross or to visit Croydon or London.

"I have to rely on others for support such as going into pubs, shopping or to football matches.

"I do have some very good friends who are prepared to put their necks out to help me as they see me as being one of them."

Further information about the book can be viewed on the website.

About 50,000 people in Croydon have some degree of deafness.

National Deaf Awareness Week, which starts on Monday, aims to highlight the needs of these people and others with a similar affliction.

© owned by or licensed to Trinity Mirror Plc 2004