Jeff Usher is a pianist, an arranger, a composer, a blues singer, a lecturer, and a teacher. Jeff is also blind.
Blind since birth, Jeff follows in the long tradition of great blind pianists such as Ray Charles, George Shearing and Stevie Wonder (who he has shared the stage with).
Jeff joined the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in November 2017, and now he is into his third plan.
“My goal is basically to be able to be more mobile. I am reasonably independent, and I still like to do things by myself without involving anybody else, that is really important to me. The NDIS has helped let me participate in things that I would not do otherwise.”
Jeff Usher has seven jazz albums to his credit, he has completed his PhD in music composition from the University of Queensland, and he has a Master of Music Degree from Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, where he has lectured since 1998. He is one of the few specialist blues piano teachers in Australia.
“I am able to use my plan to pay for someone to drive me to gigs, which is good especially if I have an electronic piano and amplifier to take with me.”
This support means Jeff can participate in blind cricket and get to his music gigs and not have to solely rely on his wife to drive him places or try and catch public transport.
“One of the big areas that has been opening up for me is getting assistance to sort out my print music. I have a considerable library of my own compositions. I have been able to employ someone to help me sort out my sheet music and to assist me in editing my music charts, that is a very big help. “
For Jeff, the flexibility in using his NDIS funding has allowed him to choose supports that best suit his specific needs.
“I do everything from solo piano right through to working with trios, quartets, duos right up to working with larger groups and big bands.”
“The other week I had to go from a blind cricket match at Ashgrove to the Gold Coast for a gig. My support worker/roadie is able to drive me to places and to set up my equipment.”
Jeff is supported on his NDIS journey by Carers Queensland Local Area Coordinator, Maria.
“My Local Area Coordinator has been very good. She has been very, very helpful, and I have a good relationship; it has been a very good experience.”
Local Area Coordinators meet with people with disability who are eligible for the NDIS to support them in identifying their current needs and goals for the future, along with linking to community and mainstream services.
Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.
If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can also help you identify and link to options for support in your community.
To find out more about how the NDIS and Local Area Coordination program can work for you, visit Carers Queensland NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program for the Ipswich Region at Level 3, 28-30 Thorn Street, Ipswich or call 07 3454 0500.