Let’s Build the Bridge / 架桥

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:

 

Telling the Story: A Letter in Response to Call from Ontario Premier

 

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 robulinca@gmail.com 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.

架桥

作者:汪洋

 

前不久,在上海“黑暗中对话”工作的朋友问我,加拿大的展览馆里,有什么专门为盲人参观者提供便利的设计?他正在为国内一家天文馆做咨询,希望能了解国外的做法。我心中暗喜:这些年参加过几个盲人机构组织的博物馆导览活动,还参与过博物馆与艺术设计学院合办的项目,为多感官展品的设计提供建议和反馈。这些经历正好派上用场,我还真能提供点参考信息,比如导游更多的语言描述,带上手套触摸雕塑展品,在iPad里储存展品介绍,利用苹果产品自带的语音功能给盲人导览,以及艺术设计学院的学生们把画作立体化的一些设计。朋友听了很高兴。我能帮上一点忙,也很高兴。我们约好,等他设计好了,有什么好的主意,也来跟我分享。这样两边能交流,挺好的。

 

在加拿大,我应该属于一眼望去最具少数族群色彩的人了。亚裔、盲人、女性,找专业工作时,这些身份每一个都能带来隐性的障碍。但在社会生活方面,它们却使我有一个很独特的切入点,比较容易在不同文化和社区之间搭起桥梁。比如,在华人社区,我发起文化公益性质的学东西俱乐部,到今年10月底就运行整整四年了。现在有越来越多志同道合的朋友加入,我们一起合作,为促进移民学习东西方文化知识、与不同族裔进行深入交流做点事情。迄今为止,我是俱乐部里唯一的盲人。一般别人知道我是盲人时,会惊讶,同时也会意识到,视障并不会影响我做事情的态度或质量。在多伦多的盲人社区,我参加过不少非营利机构或个人组织的文化、体育、娱乐活动,自己也组织过;大多数情况下,我会是其中为数不多的华人。由此认识的一些很优秀或很有意思的当地朋友,陆续被我请到学东西俱乐部做“东西对话”的义务嘉宾,跟我们分享他们的生活、工作故事,对文化差异的观察、建议等。今年以来,在盲人社区较有影响的几位朋友,开始主动把学东西俱乐部的活动预告推广给更广泛的盲人社区。最让我感动的,是他们把我写反对种族主义的文章传播出去,用实际行动支持亚裔反对种族主义的声音。

 

我自2015年起,每年一次,为多伦多的盲人组织向朋友们募捐,今年是第六年。因为自己受惠于它们,亲眼见证这些组织负责人、志愿者的无私付出和富有成效的工作,所以愿意尽一份力,帮助它们维持、发展下去,给更多盲人的生活带来多一点点光明。朋友们的慷慨捐助,每每让我成为不少组织里单次筹款最多的成员之一。其实我个人的力量很小,中加美欧的朋友们也多是中产阶级、工薪阶层。一位在国内的师弟和他太太,从第一年起,每年汇来一笔钱。我跟他们约好,赚钱多的时候多捐点,赚钱少的时候就不捐或少捐,不给自己任何压力,也不贪多,但求把它变成一个开开心心、能够长久坚持的传统。朋友们发出的涓涓细流汇集起来,滋润了我所在的盲人社区,也让当地人真切感受到来自中国人的友善与大爱,感受到世界经济和繁荣的休戚与共。我很自豪,能够为不同社区之间的友谊搭起一座小小的桥梁。

 

9月26号,我参加了一个50公里的双人自行车户外骑行活动,正式拉开2020年的筹款序幕。今年因为疫情,很多组织的集中筹款时间推迟了,活动取消。记得去年六月份筹款时,我也写了一篇文章,《奋思客的盲目生活(一) 缘起》,介绍自己怎么在逐渐失去视力的过程中,一点点重拾山河,恢复基本正常的生活。当时说,准备写一个系列,具体介绍失明后学到的新本领,做的有趣事儿。很抱歉,因为各种的忙乱外加拖延症,这个系列还没有开写。不过,这里有一篇今年七月初写的文章,基本概括了2020上半年我在忙的事情。你也可以把它当作一个剪影,透过它看到第一波疫情期间,发生在千百个加拿大华人身上的故事:

 

Telling the Story: A Letter in Response to Call from Ontario Premier

 

最后,请见评论里列出的我今年准备帮助的机构名称。请朋友们在力所能及的情况下,支持我,帮助我所在的盲人社区。$5不算少, $500不嫌多。如果需要抵税回单,则需达到$20以上。愿意捐助的朋友请联系我,告知想捐的金额、机构名称等,我把相应的付款方式发给你:robulinca@gmail.com

 

鞠躬感谢各位!

3 thoughts on “Let’s Build the Bridge / 架桥”

  1. The organizations I’m supporting this year:

    Comprehensive programs and services / 综合性服务

    CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter
    Canadian Council of the Blind
    加拿大盲人委员会多伦多分会,为大多地区的盲人提供同伴互助、信息分享平台,组织各类文化娱乐活动。

    Balance for Blind Adults
    我在这里免费学习了电脑盲用软件操作技能。

    The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)
    加拿大历史最悠久的非营利组织之一,也是全国性的最大的盲人服务机构。我原来一直以为它是由政府资助的,但其实它的一半支出需要依靠民间捐助。

    Spinal Cord Injury Ontario
    这家机构主要服务脊椎损伤者,但是他们的找工服务也会帮助其他类型的残疾人。我就是他们的客户之一。

    Sports / 运动类

    Trailblazers Tandem Cycling Club
    服务盲人的双人骑车俱乐部

    Durham Centre for Excellence
    训练盲人溜冰、打冰球,并组织盲人户外挑战赛。2019年也通过学东西俱乐部为移民家庭提供了溜冰训练。

    Change Through Sport (Blind Tennis Toronto)
    服务盲人的网球俱乐部

    Toronto Ski Hawks
    服务盲人的高山滑雪俱乐部

  2. Hi Yang,
    Wow! You have been a very busy lady.
    Excellent, and thank you from the blind community.
    We get to benefit from your expertise and connections.
    Yang, if I can be of any help, don’t hesitate to ask. I have enjoyed the artickle and would like to wish you well & also would like to say, ‘Wonderful work’. I know this is not easy sometimes, but the rewards are always fulfilling. Aren’t they?
    By the way, I do have one more idea for a fundraiser. Call me when you have a few minutes.

    1. Hi Lynda, thank you very much for your kind words, and for all your hard work At Trailblazers! I enjoy the tandem cycling a lot. We’re so lucky to live in Toronto Where people like you and other cited volunteers Have made it possible for us to participate and enjoy a fuller-scale life. I’m really grateful for that! Sorry I just saw this message, and will call you shortly.

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