Let’s Build the Bridge
By Yang Wang
September 30, 2020
Last month, a friend who worked for the Dialogue in the Dark Shanghai sent me a message. He was trying to make a planetarium in China more accessible to the vision impaired, and wanted to learn about the accommodations museums in Toronto might have offered to their blind visitors. Well, I happened to have had a few multi-sensory tours of the Royal Ontario Museum. I also once participated in the co-creation sessions organized by OCAD University and the Art Gallery of Ontario to give suggestions on tactile designs for artworks. So I gladly shared things I felt helpful to me, such as more detailed descriptions by a tour guide, gloves to put on to touch scruptures, an iPad for each visitor with programmed introductions of collections, and objects to translate artworks into different senses. He was very much impressed, and promised to share with me what the planetarium would do with accessibility. I was happy that my experience in Toronto might be of some help to the vision impaired in China!
Asian, blind, female. These labels make me one of the most visible minorities in Canada. Each of them might have caused an invisible barrier to my search for a professional job. However, the identities enable me to weigh in with a unique angle as far as my social life is concerned, and make it easier for me to help connect different communities. Here’s some examples.
I initiated the East and West Learning Club among Asian families in the year 2016, and will celebrate its 4th birthday at the end of this October. Gradually more and more like-minded friends join me. We work hard together, as volunteers, to bring opportunities for the public to learn both eastern and western cultures, and to promote in-depth communication between people of different heritages. I am the only vision impaired person in the club so far. When participants see my white cane for the first time, they are usually quite stunned. Then they come to realize impaired vision does not impair my attitude nor the quality of my work. Outside the Asian community, I have participated in lots of cultural, sport and social events organized especially by blind organizations in Toronto. I organized a program for the blind community myself. On many occasions I am one of the few members who has an Asian heritage out there. Some of the excellent local people I’ve gotten to know in these events have come to our learning club as volunteer guest speakers for the East&West Dialogue program. They come to share with immigrants their life and work experience, observation on cultural differences, thoughts, and suggestions, etc. Starting this year, a few influential leaders in the blind community began to help circulate the club’s event announcements in their circles. Moreover, I was deeply touched when they forwarded my article confronting racism against Asians in the pandemic. I am very grateful to them for standing by the Asian community, and helping have our voice heard.
Since 2015, I’ve been doing fundraising among my Chinese friends for the blind community in Toronto once a year. This is the sixth annual call, and the first one to have an English version. I have benefitted from the programs and services these non-profit organizations provide. I have seen in person how hard and well their leaders, volunteers or staff have worked to help blind people. I would love to do something to keep them going so they can bring more light into more blind people’s lives. The generosity of my friends across Canada, China, the US and Europe often make me one of the top fundraisers for some of these organizations, even though they are mostly but ordinary working middle class people. A friend couple who live in China have supported me since Year One. We have agreed on a principle: they’d donate according to the economy, no pressure, neither to pursue anything fancy, but we would try to make it a joyful, sustainable, and long-lasting tradition. I’m so proud of my friends for their kindness and support for the blind community that I am with, and I’m so glad I can help connect the two communities and we somehow share joys and concerns about the world we live in together.
The 50k tandem cycling ride I did on September 26 marked the onset of my 2020 fundraising campaign, followed by this article. Due to the pandemic, many organizations put off or cancelled their fundraisers. I remembered it was in June last year that I wrote another article before the 5k Walk-a-thon and 50k Blaze-a-thon, talking about how I had managed a pretty normal life in the progression of vision loss. I promised to write a series, introducing the new skills I had learned and the fun sports and activities I had enjoyed after losing my vision. Sorry I have not begun with the series due to everything else in my life and procrastination. However, as a substitute, here’s an article I wrote in July of this year for your entertainment. It kinda summarized what I had been busy doing in the first half of 2020. It was also a snapshot of true stories happening in the Chinese community across Canada during that period of time:
Finally, please see the list of organizations I’m going to support this year in the comments area if you’d like. Every dollar helps. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would be able to donate any amount to any of the organizations.
Thank you so much!
For accessible technology users: article in English ends here. Below is the same article in Chinese. Your screen-reading software may not pick it up. The heading of Comments area in English follows the two versions of the article.