A BLIND auditor is inspiring the visually impaired around the country to achieve their goals.

Saima Ashraf, from Blackburn, is a senior auditor at Merseyside Police, breaking down stereotypes of what a visually impaired person can do.

Nothing stopped Miss Ashraf taking big opportunities with the Audit Commission and Grant Thornton before landing her current job, and she hopes that she can inspire others to do the same.

She said: “I was at school when I started struggling to see the board.

“I was into cricket and football, but I was struggling, and didn’t know what was going on until a nurse came into school and found that my eyesight had reduced significantly.

“I had to go to the hospital all the time after that, and at 17, I was finally registered blind."

It was a difficult time for Miss Ashraf as a teenager, who began experiencing depression as she lost her sight.

She said: “I remember looking at the other kids playing, and asking myself, why me?

“But my uncle told me God only sends tests to those who can handle it.

“He said I can live up to the stereotype and let it define me, or I can accept it and find a way to work around it.

“People would say I was a burden, but I thought I would show them, and now they think I am a role model.

“You have to be very thick skinned, and not everyone has the right support, but my family have been really supportive.”

Miss Ashraf has broken barriers by proving that someone with visual impairment can still have a professional career, but this was not without its difficulties.

She said: “I took five years to do my exams due to deferrals because they were never prepared, they had never had a blind person doing the exams before.

“For one of my exams, they would not allow me to do it over two days, because they thought I could cheat.

“I said I would stay at a hotel, and hand in all devices, the examiner could stay with me, but they said no.

“So, I sat the exam in one day, from 7.45am till 7.30pm, with breaks.

“I had to do it, because without this exam, everything else was worthless.”

Despite the setbacks, the auditor even managed to impress Merseyside Police at her interview, memorising a presentation and leaving the room stunned.

While studying at Lancaster University, Miss Ashraf said the support she received was brilliant.

She said: “I live in my own house. I can grill food, but I cannot use a fryer.

“I want to break the narrative that all visually impaired people are unable to hold professional jobs, and live life."