Hi, I'm Lane McKittrick, co-founder with my husband, Todd, of Hear See Hope. In addition to being the mom to four boys, including Conner and Dalton who have Usher syndrome, because of my experiences as a parent, I went back to school and received my Ph.D. in Special Education at the University of Northern Colorado. I started a new non profit called Lane of Inquiry where i conduct special education research specific to deafblindness and provide family support. My research interests are deafblindness and family-professional partnerships. I hope to use this blog to share updates on my family and my research. My goal is to provide information and support for families living with Usher syndrome. Research into a cure is vitally important, but I know from experience, family support in dealing with day-to-day issues is critical as well. Thanks for reading. For more on my education research, visit Lane of Inquiry's website or my academic site.

2016 Annual Hear See Hope Auction



Thank You for Attending!

This event was held October 1, 2015. Renown Seattle Chef Tom Douglas headlined this Sensational Dining in the Dark experience, designed to help raise awareness about Usher Syndrome, the leading cause of deafblindness. Many thanks to those who attended and helped make it such a memorable evening. More info to follow!

Couldn’t attend but still want to donate? Click on the button below!

UW Medicine Eye Institute and the Hear See Hope Foundation


Restoring Vision Loss Caused by Usher Syndrome

It is estimated that between 30,000 and 50,000 people in the United States suffer from Usher syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes deafness and blindness. Children with Usher syndrome are born with, or may develop, hearing loss. Then, as these children get older, they develop night blindness and their visual field narrows, creating “tunnel vision.” There are currently no treatments for Usher syndrome, but stem cell therapy holds great promise for restoring sight and benefiting patients worldwide.

The UW Medicine Eye Institute, the only academic Eye Institute in the five-state WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho), is at the frontier of developing new techniques to restore vision loss utilizing stem cell therapy. Building on a depth of research expertise, clinicians and scientists at our institute have partnered with the Hear See Hope Foundation to develop treatments for vision loss caused by Usher syndrome. We welcome your partnership to advance this innovative research.

Advancing Stem Cell Therapy
Jennifer Chao, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in UW Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology, utilizes a special technique to create undifferentiated stem cells from a patient’s own skin or blood cells. These stem cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), contain a person’s entire genome and can be programmed to become almost any other cell in the body. Dr. Chao, in collaboration with Tom Reh, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Biological Structure, converts these iPSCs into retinal cells that are genetically identical to those found in the patient’s eye. Once the iPSCs have been grown into millions of copies of patient-specific retinal cells, high-throughput screening technology tests thousands of compounds on the cells in an effort to determine which of these compounds help the cells to survive. This process, called “cell rescue,” is a groundbreaking technique that could help identify already FDA-approved drugs capable of stopping or slowing the progression of vision loss in patients with Usher syndrome or other retinal degenerative diseases. While animal models exist for many other degenerative retinal diseases, this is not the case for Usher syndrome. This means that traditional basic research techniques used to test hypotheses in animal models cannot be performed for Usher syndrome. However, new techniques are being developed at UW Medicine to produce improved patient-derived cell culture models of Usher syndrome and other degenerative diseases to accelerate research. With UW Medicine’s streamlined approach, and our strong partnership with the Hear See Hope Foundation, we believe an effective cure will soon be made available to patients.

The Potential of Cell Rescue — From Concept to Cure
In 2013, the Chao Lab performed the first high-throughput screening of stem cells from patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This proof-of-concept study demonstrated promising results: multiple compounds were found to have therapeutic effects, facilitating cell rescue. We are now in the process of understanding the biological mechanisms of the cell rescue, as well as the dosing of potential therapeutic compounds. In 2015, with support from the Hear See Hope Foundation, the UW Medicine Eye Institute will begin using this same method to test stem cells derived from Usher syndrome patients.

Opportunities to Invest
We can accelerate the pace of research aimed at slowing or stopping vision loss in Usher syndrome patients with your philanthropic investment. Support of the UW Medicine Eye Institute will advance:

  • Research associated with collecting and growing millions of Usher syndrome patient-specific stem cells, as well as use of the high-throughput screening equipment to test potential treatments. $500,000
  • New studies of the mechanisms, dosing and bio-availability of potentially therapeutic compounds identified through high-throughput screening. $500,000
  • Implementation of advanced imaging technology — available only at UW Medicine — for understanding the retinal degeneration caused by Usher syndrome and assessing the effectiveness of new treatments. $150,000
  • Devoted Usher syndrome research support via part-time or full-time post-doctorate fellows. $40,000 to 60,000 per year

Join Us
By investing in our partnership, you can advance groundbreaking research that will bring hope for a cure to the thousands of children and individuals suffering from Usher syndrome worldwide.

To learn more, please contact Abbey Norris, director for philanthropy at UW Medicine, at 206.221.8274 or abbeyn@uw.edu. Thank you for your interest.

Hear See Hope partners with Usher Syndrome Coalition

Hear See Hope is proud to announce a new partnership with the Usher Syndrome Coalition. The Usher Syndrome Coalition is connecting the global Usher syndrome community. Its mission is to raise awareness and accelerate research for Usher syndrome, the most common genetic cause of combined deafness and blindness. The USC also provides information and support to individuals and families affected by Usher syndrome.

By fostering lasting partnerships with the growing number of
Usher syndrome-focused organizations like Hear See Hope around the world, the USC facilitates collaborative efforts, seeks to minimize duplication of efforts and create a global network of support. Hear See Hope is grateful to the USC and all our supporters who work to find a cure for Usher.

Walking the Camino de Santiago for Usher Syndrome Research

Peter and Maggie DevlinWalking on the Camino de Santiago is a spiritual journey.  But for my wife and I, our pilgrimage will have the added dimension of Walking for a Cure. We will be walking for a cure to Usher Syndrome. Every step we take on this journey will help us march forward toward a cure of the most common cause of deaf/blindness!  On June 8, Maggie and I will trek across parts of the ancient Roman trade road, at one time called the “Milky Way”, from St. Jean de Pied, France, to Santiago de Compostella, Spain. We are embarking on the physically demanding journey as a fundraiser for a cure for Usher Syndrome. All of your generous donations will go only toward The Hear See Hope Foundation, an organization that is dedicated to raising and giving out funds to research institutions so that the cure for Usher Syndrome could be found. By the time we conclude the trek and fundraising on June 19, we will have walked nearly 200 km!

For a little bit about ourselves. Maggie and I have been married 30 years. We have four children who are now adults. Maggie is a special education teacher and I’m a now retired software developer.  I was born deaf with profound sensorial hearing loss and adolescent-onset blindness caused by retinitis pigmentosa. I have Usher Syndrome.

Having Usher Syndrome is a lifelong disability that changes our body over time. I entered the world in silence, others experience the isolation more slowly, but we all struggle with hearing loss throughout childhood. Upon reaching adolescence we gradually lose our precious vision. Our peripheral vision becomes gradually more and more narrow, diminishing to only a few degrees. We see you and the rest of the world through a keyhole. We often stumble into people and things. Others are often perplexed and annoyed, because it seems we could see, so they ask why are we bumping into them? We fear darkness. When we step outside, nothing seems to be there except for a hand to hold, or a flashlight to guide our way. We fall more often than not. Staying balanced and walking a straight line pushes our vestibular system to the limits. The hardest part about all of this is losing our ability to communicate with you, our loved ones, and the world around us. Usher Syndrome affects so many!

With that being said, we begin the trek with the hope that our journey is yours also, and that it will make you that much more aware about Usher Syndrome. When you make the tax deductible donation, you are spiritually walking with us. Please follow our blog at https://thedevlins.wordpress.com to “walk each step with us”.  With your help, we hope to make a big difference toward helping to find the cure to Usher Syndrome.

As Helen Keller said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” Won’t you help us Walk for a Cure to Ushers? Won’t you help us Walk for See Hear Hope?

See the Cure! Hear the Cure! Hope for the Cure!

Buen Camino!

Peter & Maggie

Save the Date for the 2016 Comedy Auction

Join us March 5, 2016 for the next Hear See Hope Auction! More to follow!

Conner McKittrick HearSeeHope 2015 Auction Speech

Conner McKittrick HearSeeHope 2015 Auction Speech

Conner McKittrick, a 15 year old with Usher syndrome, speaks before Fund-A-Grant at our 2015 Hear See Hope auction for Usher syndrome research.

Fund a Grant 2015

2015 Hear See Hope Fund A Grant Video

Hear See Hope’s video shown at the 2015 auction before fund-a-grant. It highlights all the amazing research being done at UW Medicine’s Eye Institute.

conner dalton walking

Learning to Live with Usher Syndrome

Connor and Dalton McKittrick are two brothers who are helping each other and learning to live with Usher syndrome.

A Brother’s Love

Cole McKittrick has two brothers with Usher syndrome. He talks about why he wants to help find a cure.

Lauren's Quest

Lauren’s Quest

This is a story of Lauren and how she helps her friend Conner in the fight against Usher Syndrome.