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Boy born blind helps design audiology facilities at Great Ormond Street

Tuesday 24th July 2018
A new audiology and visual services facility has been designed with the help of one of the patients who will use it.
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A boy who was born blind has used his sensory experiences to help architects design Britain's first dedicated hospital unit for sight and sound loss.

Josh Horrobin, aged nine, is one of 12 children who helped with the design of the facility at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, the Evening Standard reports. 

The youngster from Greenwich used his experience to ensure various details of the centre were more user-friendly, such as having different seating levels for adults and children to make it easier for him to hear his mother speak. 

His other suggestions included tactile pavements, a quiet waiting room for appointments and a climbing space outside. 

The construction of the new Sight and Sound Centre will start in the autumn and will be completed in 2020. The new facility will contain sound-proofed booths for hearing tests and a sensory garden. 

Great Ormond Street chief executive Dr Peter Steer said: "More than 8,000 children and young people with sight and hearing conditions come to the hospital each year and our current facilities do not cater for their needs. 

"The Sight and Sound Centre will... vastly improve the patient experience by creating an environment tailor-made to these patients’ needs."

Premier Inn has helped fund the new centre with a £10 million donation, with the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity looking to raise the rest of the funds. 

Josh suffers from Norrie disease, which caused him to be registered blind in infancy and can also cause progressive hearing loss. He has already been manifesting some symptoms of hearing difficulty. 

A rare genetic condition that usually affects boys because it is linked to faulty X chromosomes, Norrie disease leads to blindness at birth or shortly after. Around one in three patients will go on to suffer audiological problems.  

Because boys have just one X chromosome, it only requires one faulty gene to trigger the disease. Girls can carry the condition but, due to having two X chromosomes, will not suffer it unless both are faulty.  

Written by James Puckle

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