Interview with Dominic Graham Hall at iSight CornwallMay 13, 2015 3:08 pm
When he was three years old Dominic Hall (Dom) was diagnosed with a brain tumour in the central nerve cluster at the front of his brain. It completely destroyed the optic nerve in his right eye and damaged the right eye, leaving him with only 10% vision.
Dom had to undergo more than a year of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy because the tumour was in such position that made it inoperable. But the specialists at Bristol Childrens’ Hospital eventually destroyed the tumour, although Dominic was permanently blind for several months afterwards.
As he was so young Dom only has fragmented memories of his ordeal. His mother Julie recalls this critical period in his life. “He was very poorly and went down to 22 lbs when he was four,” she said. “It took him a long time to get over it. He had to learn to walk again.”
Now 28 and the Customer Services Officer at iSight Cornwall, Dom leads as normal a life as is possible for someone with his disability. The tumour damaged his pituitary gland which means that Dom has had to take growth hormones to ensure he maintains a normal weight for his age.
Dom moved from home with his parents at the age of 23 to lead a totally independent life, he has moved several times and now enjoys being in a centrally located Truro flat.
Dom grew up in Truro and went to Tregolls School and Penair Comprehensive where he gained his GCSEs and went on to complete a three-year BTEC National Diploma in Information Technology at Exeter College whilst he was lodging at the West of England School for the Blind. Then he gained a place at Newport University to study Artificial Intelligence and Video Game Design.
“I dropped out after the first term,” said Dom. “The course was a lot harder than I thought. I also felt very isolated there.”
So it was back to Cornwall for Dom and he spent the next two years trying to get a job. He had two interviews from the 100 or so cvs he sent out to local employers but without success. “Then my parents suggested that I volunteer for the Cornwall Blind Association, now iSight Cornwall, where I have been since 2007. It’s done me the world of good for my confidence and for my social skills,” said Dom.
Dom works on reception, he also does data base entry and organises cars for visually impaired clients. By being on the frontline of the charity he is the voice of iSight Cornwall and said, “my favourite side of the job is the equipment demonstrations, showing people gadgets that will transform their lives is the most rewarding part of my job.”
Dom admits that his social life tends to be “a bit geeky”. He loves video games which he plays online with people all over the world. But his greatest passion is for tabletop strategy games which he plays at the Kernow Club in Truro. In 2010 he came second in the South West doubles tournament in Nottingham, the headquarters of Games Workshop.
In 2011 he completed a 24-hour marathon strategy battle at the Royal British Legion in Truro raised £205 for the charity.
Even Dom’s holidays are arranged around tabletop games strategy events. In 2011 he went to Indianapolis for a games convention with his friend. “I was there for a week and spent loads of money buying DVDs and other games paraphernalia. It was fantastic!” His has visited Birmingham for the Warhammer Games, and this year will be visiting London for the Comicon Convention 2015.
“I try not to let my visual impairment affect me too much,” said Dominic. “Obviously there are things I cannot do, but generally I lead a pretty rewarding life.”
Words by Graham James