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USH Ambassador for Tennessee

John Johnson

I was born profoundly deaf and diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) at around 13 years of age. At that time, I was told I would be blind by 18. I was devastated by that news. My parents and siblings reminded me that my older sister and brother, who also have Usher syndrome, were over 18 and still had good vision! As you might imagine, I never went back to that doctor! I found another eye doctor, and he was more factual and positive, and dismissed that prediction that I would go blind by 18. He urged me to “Enjoy your life.” 

My RP was mild at that time and I took his advice! I attended mainstream school, and played a few sports - swimming, track, softball, football - and many other recreational activities. Football was one of my favorite sports. From 8th to 11th grade, I played defensive nose guard.  I made the 8th grade Honorable Mention, 9th grade All-Star, and Honorable Mention in my Sophomore year. I was also a Letterman for 3 straight years! Unfortunately, during junior year at spring/summer practice, I missed some tackles. That, plus other issues made me realize that my football days were over. Quitting football was the most difficult decision I had to make.

I graduated from high school with a diploma and attended local community college for a year.  At the same time, I was starting my family, so I withdrew from college and started working with county government as a maintenance worker at county recreation parks and properties. I later applied to the United States Postal Service, and worked as a clerk for a bit over 12 years, until I was forced into disability retirement. I am divorced and have three children - a son and two daughters. I am the proud grandpa of four, and caretaker of my 90-year-old mother.

I am the president of the Tennessee Organization of the Deaf-Blind, and enjoy working with the DB and Usher community in TN.

Feel free to reach out to me! 


Resources in Tennessee

  • Publishes a calendar of events related to the Deaf/HOH and DB communities

  • Program and services for youth and adults with combined vision and hearing loss.

  • iCanConnect provides people with combined and significant vision and hearing loss who qualify with free telecommunication equipment and training. Each state has their own program. Funding for iCanConnect is provided through the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, NDBEDP.

  • This project provides information, support, resources, and technical assistance to programs serving children who are deaf-blind, and their families in Tennessee.

  • This corporation is a non-profit, beneficial society of deaf-blind persons, with or without other disabilities, and their families or significant others, and other concerned individuals, organized for the purpose of advancing the economic, educational and social welfare of deaf-blind persons and improving the morale among individuals who are deaf-blind.

  • USH Ambassador for TN, John Johnson, shares this newsletter with us.

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