A new life in Albury
Daniel Searle is a high achiever. In high school he won a local Lions Youth of the Year Award for his community work, was an active member of his School Representative Council and the debating team.
He also did well academically, despite suffering a setback at age 15 - Daniel lost the majority of his sight halfway through Year 10 due to Leber's optic atrophy.
The conscientious student says that while he initially struggled to complete work to the high standard he had set himself, his grades increased in senior school as he learnt to use adaptive technology.
"JAWS (a text-to-speech computer program) enabled me to take notes in class and complete internet research tasks," he says. "Without this software I would not have the same level of independence that I currently enjoy."
Raised on a dairy farm in Barham, which is on the New South Wales side of the Murray, Daniel was also involved with his local community radio station for many years - an interest he hopes to pursue again.
Earlier this year, Daniel moved to Albury to study physiotherapy at Charles Sturt University.
"I'm really enjoying it," he said. "Living away from home is not too bad. My uni is close to the Vision Australia Albury centre, so I often drop in to ask questions - usually advice on how to help with my studies or household things."
Despite loving life in Albury, he would like to one day practice back in the country.
In March Daniel received a Vision Australia Further Education Bursary to assist his studies. He used the funds to purchase a copy of JAWS, which he had previously borrowed from his school, as well as a scanner and laptop.
"This scholarship went a long way to decrease the burden of further education for myself and my family," he said.