Never lose hope: The visually impaired strive for a better life in China
October 15th marks the annual White Cane Safety Day. This is a day to celebrate the achievements of blind or visually impaired people and increase public awareness of the community.
Our reporter Li Yi joined a White Cane Safety Day celebration in Beijing last week and tells us how the visually impaired strive for a better life in the country.
In a small yard located deep in a residential community in western Beijing, a group of blind and visually impaired people are celebrating their own festival- the White Cane Safety Day - through a performance gala.
Yang Jia (L4), Li Shiming (R3) and Li's cucurbit flute team perform at a White Cane Safety Day event in Beijing, on October 11, 2019. [Photo: China Plus/Li Yi]
76-year-old Li Shiming performed a cucurbit flute song with his friends and members of his cucurbit flute team.
"I established the cucurbit flute team in 2013 to serve the elderly and disabled people in my community. Later, many team members founded new teams and started training courses. My team now has a dozen of members. It helps to make community life more colorful and cultivate people's art taste."
Li Shiming suffered from a congenital cataract. His vision has been gradually degenerating over the years. Yet he has always been positive about life.
"I hope all blind people live a happy life. Never be inferior and never lose hope. We should bear in mind that the country and the Party care about every blind person."
A performer performs Peking Opera at a White Cane Safety Day event in Beijing, on October 11, 2019. [Photo: China Plus/Li Yi]
Of the 85 million disabled people in China, over 17 million are blind or visually impaired. Governments at all levels have adopted a series of preferential policies and provided special training courses to guarantee their equal rights to education and employment.
Meantime, these people have also been striving for more opportunities on their own.
Cao Jun, Vice Chairman of the Beijing Association of the Blind, operates a company engaged in producing special smart devices to help the blind use home products, mobile phones and computers.
"These smart devices can help solve some problems. For example, it's almost impossible for blind people to use a mobile phone, air conditioner or television. These products will enable them to enjoy the same life as the sighted and live a happier and more convenient life. The White Cane Safety Day is our own festival. We should cherish the present and the future will be better."
Performers play a cucurbit flute song at a White Cane Safety Day event in Beijing, on October 11, 2019. [Photo: China Plus/Li Yi]
Yang Jia, Vice President of the Beijing Disabled Persons' Federation, says the visually impaired deserve more and better employment opportunities.
"Taking up an occupation can help visually impaired people to be independent, fulfill self-improvement and raise self-esteem. We should provide more inclusive education and employment. In the past, massage worker seemed to be the only career option for the visually impaired. Now they can make full use of their wisdoms and talents. They can tap into more of their potential as long as being given opportunities and platforms."