By Hollie Bone
A deaf and partially-sighted woman told to claim disability benefits instead of working is set to become a MILLIONAIRE by teaching sign language from her own home.
Katie Redstar, from Leeds, Yorkshire, claims in 2017 Job Centre advisers told her she couldn’t work because of her disabilities and would have to stay on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for the rest of her life.
But refusing to accept this and determined to make something of herself, the 34-year-old defied advice to set up her own business from home, offering sign language training to companies including EE, in a bid to tear down barriers for other deaf people.
Happy-go-lucky Katie, who went deaf after falling ill with meningitis at the age of three, also suffers from a degenerative condition which will eventually rob her vision as well but is soon to move to a plush new home in Portugal and has recently signed a book deal.
She said: “I was working in a charity shop, but I didn’t feel appreciated.
“I told the Job Centre I wanted to work but they told me I couldn’t because of my disabilities.
“A friend asked me if I was prepared to accept that, and I said no.
I had a vision for companies around the world to be accessible for deaf people.
“Growing up I had doors closed in my face, people telling me I can’t do things because I’m deaf, but it has just motivated me and now I’m showing people that just because I’m deaf doesn’t mean I can’t do things, that I can’t achieve things.
“I have a brain and am capable of thinking for myself and doing things for myself.
“It may not be in the normal way, for example being able to answer phones, but I have a unique skill that is not widely available for people and companies to learn.”
After learning sign language at just four years old, Katie said the special form of communication became one of her passions.
Three decades on and it’s become a unique selling point for the entrepreneur, who has landed several deals with major companies whose contracts total more than a million pounds.
With their deposits paid and the full payments due to land in April, it will be a stark contrast to the fortnightly £426 ESA that Katie has been receiving since December 2006.
Katie launched her business, Ignite Your Inner Light, in 2017 and says that at first progress was slow, so she began writing her book, which is due to be published this June.
For the moment, the 34-year-old is reinvesting her profits in the business, but next year she hopes to buy a big house in Portugal in order to set up a children’s home for ‘differently-abled youngsters’.
Katie said: “For months it looked like nothing was happening but I remained consistent.
“I decided to up my game by writing a book, which has attracted extensive coverage already and it hasn’t even been released.
“Straight away the book gave me more exposure, and now I’m working with several six-figure clients.
“Never in this world did I ever think I would become a millionaire when I started this.
“I was just happy to make a little to live on but this ha changed my life and made me believe in myself more than ever.”
Inspirational Katie is still on her own journey of challenges, as her rare visual impairment will continue to deteriorate her sight until she becomes completely blind.
She said: “I used to be terrified about losing my sight, but I have accepted it now and I have stopped all the treatments because they weren’t working.
“Now I’m letting nature take its course.
“This has been a massive turnaround for me.
“I am deaf and nearly blind so my motivation comes from within myself as we don’t know when the rest of my vision will go.
“I want to achieve as much as I can while I can still see the small amount that I can.”