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Deaf, Blind Desmond’s Charity Skydive

February 7, 2007
07 February 2007
Desmond Masterson prepares for his charity challenge
A DEAF and partially-sighted man is taking on the challenge of a lifetime this month when he visits Australia to do a tandem sky-dive.And if that is not enough, he is then going to climb across the upper span of Sydney Harbour Bridge, 134 metres above the harbour.

Desmond Masterson, who lives off Mildmay Road, Islington, uses British Sign Language to communicate with. He has visual impairments due to the eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa and, combined with deafness, his condition is known as Usher Syndrome.

Mr Masterson, who flew out to Australia this week, will be jumping out of at plane at 10,000ft above Victoria on February 18. Then on February 24 he will climb to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Mr Masterson, 36, has just graduated with BA degree in Deaf Studies, said: “I’m going on my own but I have support from friends who are deaf, some of them are visually impaired, as well as my family.

“I am going to Australia to visit my friends for two weeks. One of them is the only hearing one within the deaf family and encouraged me to undertake the tandem skydiving, so I thought why not I could do this as a sponsored event!”

The aim is to raise money for SIGN, a charity that specialise in deafness and mental health issues.

Mr Masterson said: “There has been a lack of awareness about mental health issues in the general public. Comparing with the hearing population, a higher percentage of the deaf population suffers from mental health difficulties due to discrimination, oppression and marginalisation within the hearing mainstream, especially in the employment.

“SIGN’s employment findings encouraged me to support SIGN’s campaigns and projects by undertaking challenging events. I have done several fundraising events such as 24-hour games – without sleep – to raise funds to support the growing events for deaf people who are visually impaired. But this is my first time doing skydiving and the bridge climb!