Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Reflections

Another year's about to come to a close. Time do pass by us so quick and as the saying goes, time waits for no one, has truth in it. If one chooses to be complacent or wait for good times to happen or otherwise, time will just continue to move on.

 

Reflecting, a year of discovery and my independent living skills put to test and caring for my dogs.

 

Discover Myanmar, a recent trip with a few friends from the UK and my wife last October month was truly a memorable one, despite the fact that accessibility for blind travellers are practically  non existent. Challenges are aplenty such as getting in and out of narrow diesel powered long tailed boats, walking up to hillside temples and pagodas, walking bare footed in and around the vicinity of temples and pagodas under the hot blazing tropical sun could cause foot blisters if not careful.  The beautiful historical sights, however, made it all worth while and of course, the ever non-stop audio description by my wife Hong, truly contributed to an enjoyable trip.

 

Sad to share, one of our dogs named Lady, a 14yrs old Labrador succumbed to bone cancer and passed away early November. Certainly, we will miss her, she had given much joy before and after my sight loss, RIP lady!

 

It's always a good feeling when I am invited to give talks in raising awareness on adult blindness. The year too has given me opportunities to do just that. Also, I am glad to have reached out to those newly blind, providing emotional support and guidance, enabling those affected and their loved ones to continue life with dignity and respect. 

 

 

I hope the new year marking my 10th year of sight loss will continue to give me the strength and vision to contribute whenever and wherever possible. I know I can't be 100% of old self but I can be a 100% new me 

 

Happy 2018 all!

 

More challenging times ahead!

 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hold On Be Strong

Life is indeed full of excitement, surprises and challenges. Living in the present moment is what we must do,,, thus enabling us to live a meaningful life. Surprises in life could suddenly be a life changer to one's life, this happened to me!

Over the past few years, I'd met and got to know folks, especially adults, progressively going blind due to various reasons eg. diseases, infections and accidents. Being 'thrown' in the bottomless dark pits without any emotional support make it all worse and extremely depressing to the affected and loved ones. I do believe we all have within us, an inner strength that we can tap in to overcome predicaments such as disability, etc and continue to live a life with purpose. Knowing this strength will help us to overcome the depression and face up to the new life challenges. This inspired me to compose a song, Hold on Be strong. Hopefully, inspiring those going through the difficult depression moments.

Verse 1:
When you're feeling down
And nobody wants to know
The fear in you is real
And you're all alone

Verse 2:
As you sit and watch
The people walking by
Nobody seems to care
And nobody's at your side

Chorus:
Hold on be strong
Reach out to the world
Hold on to the light
That shines in your heart

Verse 3:
When you're feeling sad
And life's is just unfair
Where's the love and care
And you'll wonder why

Verse 4:
When the day is dark
An the light's getting far
Hope is all you need
And let it be the guide

Chorus:
Hold on be strong
Reach out to the world
Hold on to the light
That shines in your heart

Hold on be strong
There's hope in the world
Hold on to hope
And make it be the light

Hold on hold on
Theres hope all around
HOld on hold on
And let it be the guide
Hold on hold on
And let it be the light
Hold on hold on
And you'll be alright


More challenging times ahead!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Disabled parking out of bound to the Blind

Denying the Blind n the Deaf the right to use the disabled parking bays is clear discrimination. Excuses that the Blind do not drive and the Deaf could easily walk do not hold water. Perhaps, the authorities have the notion that being blind or deaf, they are of excellent health and forgetting that people age, having walking difficulties due to other health problems,arthritis, diabetes, cholesterol, et. More education and awareness much needed. Sad to say, it must start with fellow disabled activists to understand, to try a little kindness and practise compassion.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Life after blindness through music

The rapid advancement in technology, assistive technology and products for the blind have been a positive life changer for me. Learning new skills such as using smart phones and computer, opened up new doors and windows. Coping with blindness's is a lot easier and also in regaining my independence as much as possibly could. 
Technology has also given me an opportunity to explore music.  Happy to say that I am able to self taught playing guitar and ukulele. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Touch screen devices, the way forward!

It's such a wonderful feeling to know that today,the blind friends are aware on the importance of mobile devices such as smartphones which provide the link to connect them with the world. Breaking news updates, emails, video/audio communication, etc are now possible and accessible to the blind community.

The fear of touch screen phones without the conventional physical buttons seem to diminish and today, more blind folks are ready to accept change and know that their lives will be enriched with more assistive technology readily available.

Due to several requests for iPhone instructional training courses, I decided to hold a series of workshops, beginners to advanced users this year. Last Saturday, a 2nd workshop for blind iPhone users was held . A group of optometry student volunteers attended the workshop, interacting well with the blind folks. It was a first time experience for the studen. Volunteers in discovering about the iPhone accessibility features and learn too the methods employed by the blind in using the iPhone.

More challenging times ahead!


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

VISION FOR THE NEW YEAR



Another year came to a close and it marked my 9th year crossing the bridge from the sighted to the world of darkness. A severe bacterial infection resulted in sudden loss of sight in both my eyes. As an adult blind, the emotional struggles in overcoming the  acquired disability was quite a traumatic ordeal and sad to add that there were little help or support available to me at that point of time. I was fortunate to have a loving and caring family. Together, my wife and children supported one another in facing the tough challenges, helping me to adapt to my new life.

Awareness is still very much lacking about the help and support for people stricken with blindness. Both state authorities and non governmental organisations surely need to transform to reach out to those people in need of help and support. For adult blind, customised rehabilitation programs are needed to suit individuals so that they are able to regain their independence, dignity and assimilate back into society without facing discrimination and social stigma. It is sad to note that today, those becoming blind are often assumed to be incapable and a burden. Today, very few are aware of the Disability Act and Malaysia being a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of persons with disabilities Act. Blind NGOs should be more aggressive in raising awareness to all for the betterment of the blind community, as the disabled groups are often been sidelined in areas of job opportunities, education and community development.

Accessibility  in public transportation, barrier free walkways, accessible information and disabled friendly amenities are still a dream for the local disabled community. This has created a barrier to the independence of the disabled and causing much inconvenience to the disabled and care givers. Over the past few years, I have participated in conferences and dialogues organised by relevant state authorities on accessibility issue. However, the feel good factor only stayed at the conferences. There's little follow up action in implementing the improvements proposed, not walking the talk so to speak. Examples can seen in the incorrect layout of tactiles installed, which pose a hazard to the blind. Often too, opinions are not seek from the blind before implementation of accessibility improvement projects.

Blind assistive technology devices and gadgets are out of reach to many blind. Computer screen reader softwares are expensive to purchase. Assistive technology for the blind is of utmost importance for the blind today. Many blind vouch that it’s their life saviour as the technology enabled the blind to be connected to the world and in some areas, the blind are able to compete on a level playing field, for example, online research and writing. Subsidies on purchases of such assistive technology tools should be given and waiver of the internet charges by the telcos so that more blind will be encouraged to pick up the important computer skill, thus  increasing their employment marketability. 

A strong voice for the blind and other disabled groups are needed to speak out for the rights and the needs of the blind and the other disabled groups. So far, we have not heard from the relevant authorities on its work on the improvement of quality of life for the disabled. The disabled community today need a dedicated government minister to look into the various issues and grouses to improve the quality of life of the disabled community, estimated to be 15% of our population. 

More challenging times ahead

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy new year 2016!

Losing one's sight as an adult is unimaginable to many as the traumatic experience is devastating.  It leads to deep depression to both the affected and loved ones.  This happened to me 8 years ago. I contracted a severe bacterial infection which resulted in my sudden loss of sight in both my eyes, infected both lungs and liver.

Accepting my new life and letting go of the past, a mammoth task for my family and myself.  It proved to be  a real life challenge. The strong love and support from family gave me the courage and confidence to cross the bridge from the sighted world into the world of darkness.

I have to re-learn everything in life that we all have taken for granted, walking, eating/drinking, making coffee/tea, etc. Music, probably is the least priority in my life then. However, I am glad I was proven wrong. I realised it has therapeutic healing effects soon after I got myself a used acoustic guitar and recently, a ukulele. My re-introduction to computer with assistive screen technology certainly helped to reconnect myself with the world again. Emails, internet surfing, social media connectivity all became possible and you tube became my teacher in learning how to play the guitar.  I took up the challenge to learn to play the ukulele, that is, self taught. My first time playing a ukulele was when I played on my daughter's piece while visiting her in London.

It's not as easy and straightforward as I expected in learning from hours listening to the teacher on you tube.  With lots of patience and determination I managed to strum and learn finger picking. I am pleased with my achievement so far and more learning to come.

I'd learned, too, losing my sight is just losing one of my senses. more importantly, I have not lost my vision!

Happy New Year!

http://youtu.be/kYexxrG4_lY

More challenging times ahead!