( pic: the picture on the right is the mould while the picture on the left is the embossed tactile diagram of the inner structure of a car. This is found in the form 4 physic textbook)
What is a world without light? An empty world without colors? A world without dimensions?
Last week, I visited the MAB, Malaysia Association of the Blind at Jalan Tun Sambanthan.
It is amazing how much the visually disabled can do. Braille is not an easy language to be learnt. I tried closing my eyes and reading with my fingers, and hell, it was tough… The dotted characters seemed the same, more like tiny sands. Kar Yuen, the 6-year-old kid I met there, was able to tactilely read all the alphabets and numbers as fast as I read with my eyes. Braille is based on only 6 dots, yet it is possible to emboss characters A-Z, 0-9, in codes to be read by touch. Reading Braille is difficult let alone typing it. The Brailler (a Braille typewriter) has only 9 keys. Nevertheless, I had my name embossed in Braille ^_^ (just in case you were wondering, no, I did not typed it, too challenging for me, hehe..)
What impressed me most is that MAB transcribes text print to Braille. Text from novels, to Reader Digest and even school textbooks! An average Reader Digest book, after transcription, would be 3 books thick, each about the size of a box file! With that, the blind or low vision students are able to attend school, both primary and secondary school, together with other ordinary students. Yes, they would be able to sit for UPSR, PMR, SPM, etc… Diagrams (as above) are embossed so that they too can learn. Embossing diagrams is a very tedious task. Reading it is equally difficult. Yet, these special people have a great sense of touch and imaginations, putting together the puzzles into a picture. Really, really impressive.
And there was this guy playing Pachabel Canon in D. He had a diploma in piano. And to think that passing piano exams was a struggle even for people with good vision. Well, at least I struggled, and hell, I don’t even have a diploma! And there was this girl who passed her SPM with flying colors and was awarded ‘Anugerah pelajar istimewa cemerlang’ by the Melacca government. She aspires to be a teacher however her application to a teaching school has been rejected. The world today is too blind to see how much these less fortunate people need our support.
Lastly, I suppose we should count our blessings… (yeah, all of you who are lucky enough to be able to read this)… sometimes, we don’t realize how lucky we are, having one of the God’s greatest gifts. Ophthalmology is a very important branch of medicine, aiming to prevent visual loss and blindness. MAB on the other hand, helps people to cope with visual loss. Education and rehabilation is important...
Can we make a difference? Certainly! It can be as simple as helping a blind people to cross the street or to find a shop. Let him hold your arm and walk slightly in front of them, not behind. If you are helping a blind into a car, tell him which way it is facing, and place his hand on the car roof over the open door. If you are eating with a blind, take the courtesy to tell them what food is served. Debone the fish, if any and never fill up drinks up to the brim to avoid spillage. If you are working, you may pledge to donate a portion of your monthly salary or even provide employment to the blind. Don’t be surprised that the blind is capable to use the computer. They have ‘talking computers’ and manage with hotkeys. They use windows and other special software. Visit www.mab.org.my for more information.
(Written on June 09, 2007 at 09:05 AM)