Thursday, January 29, 2009

Money Sense!

The Chinese New Year tradition of giving and receiving ‘ang pows’, the little red packets containing some money, as a gesture of goodwill in wishing one another a prosperous year is still very much alive.  Perhaps, one of the best age old Chinese new year traditions ever, besides the family re-union dinner on Chinese New Year’s eve in the lunar calendar.


Both my dear wife and I, being married, do have our share of giving and receiving the ‘ang pows’ irrespective of our ages too. I, for one, still receive my share of ‘ang pows’ from my elderly relatives. Both Hong and I would happily give out ‘ang pows’, to the younger generation and in particular, the elderly relatives too, as a mark of our respect and gratitude to the elders.


Over the past several years, I would dutifully, go to the banks to withdraw and change the new currency notes of One, Five, Ten and Fifty Ringgit denominations. Hong and I would, before the Chinese New Year, ‘pack’ the ‘ang pows’ with the various new currency notes in different denominations. Now, with the loss of my sight since a year ago, it suddenly dawned upon me a new challenge in learning how to identify and differentiate the currency notes of different denominations.


In the early days after I lost my sight, I felt distressed each time I had to handle the ringgit notes as I could not figure out the different denominations. Much as I tried feeling the numbers at the corners which I thought was where it would indicate the difference, I was grossly disappointed much to my chagrin. I asked my V.I.Ps friends (Visually Impaired Persons) about the ways or methods to differentiate the currency denominations. The friends were more than happy to share and ‘show’ me the methods employed by them. The Five Ringgit note is the easiest to distinguish because of its plastic based material, is obviously easily recognizable through feel. The One Ringgit note, the smallest in size i.e. in length and width, is usually used as a template gauge to measure and to compare the other Ten and Fifty currency notes. From past experience, I found that the most difficult task was to identify the Ten and the Fifty currency notes. There was minimal difference in length and width between the Ten and the Fifty currency notes. Thus, it was not easy for me to feel the difference. Well, I am happy to report that after the recent ‘lots of practice’ in packing the little red packets, my feel has certainly improved and I am able to differentiate between the Ten and Fifty currency notes. However, I would feel more secured to have the currency notes, especially the Tens and Fifties marked, e.g. folding the corners of the Tens or Fifties for easy identification when I am out on my own with friends. Recently too, I received a currency note identification tool, a neat little gift from Bank Negara, a plastic template  in which the currency note can be placed and folded into position.  The Braille numbering imprinted on the plastic template next to the edge of the currency note can be read to identify the denomination.  But unfortunately, I am not Braille literate! Learning Braille is definitely a challenge and an important priority in my agenda for this year.


More challenging times ahead!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Year of the OX... The year to 'moo...' forward!

Happy Chinese New Year 2009! And “Gong Xi Fa Cai!” As we usher in the Year of the Ox. I, certainly, shall be eagerly looking ahead for a year of more challenges, making major positive strides in my ‘new age’ life and achieving my goal to be as independent as I can be .

Reflecting Back, what an eventful year it was for me. Life can be full of surprises and one will not know what lies ahead when one approaches the corner, or at certain points of one’s life journey, so to speak! I could recall vividly the traumatic period in my life during the last Chinese new year, unforgettable times with lots of pain, helplessness, depression and the uncertainties ahead then. I am glad that Mother Nature and Time does not stop nor wait for anyone or anything, and time does helps in healing which I think, I am now qualified to talk about it. The traumatising and difficult times that I experienced has ‘toughen’ me to face the challenging times ahead and move forward with stronger determination to succeed again. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going!

More challenging times ahead!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Don't Leave Home Without It!

"Don’t leave home without it!" A catchy slogan which many of us, perhaps, may recall this slogan being associated with a credit card advertising campaign some years back. However, to the blind community, “Don’t leave home without it” is a phrase so meaningful and entrenched in our dear hearts. I am referring to the faithful mobility tool aid which we, the blind community, simply cannot leave home without it. Yes, I am talking about the white cane or white stick depending on where you are.

To the blind community, the white cane is definitely a great mobility tool which enables and provides independence, sense of balance and bearings, alignment of directions when traveling or walking alone without guidance. In my early days of losing my sight, I was really feeling down in the dumps, frustrated and anger within, helpless until I got hold of the white cane, which, in a way, helped me to get out of the rut. The white cane enabled me the ability to probe, feel and identify the tracks, objects and other obstacles along the way while moving about with some degree of confidence. With the white cane I was able to avoid walking into potential danger spots and hurting myself. Soon, thereafter, with increased confidence coupled with the feel good factor. I decided to venture out to public places after much persuasion from my family, especially my dear wife. I had to re-learn several simple tasks, which normally, the sighted do not give it any second thoughts or be bothered about it. It was somewhat scary stepping onto walkalators, escalators, walking up and down the stairs. Looking back, I was not sure who was more terrified, my dear wife or me during the outdoor adventures. Sad to note, too, despite me holding the white cane and tapping from left to right and vice versa at certain public places there are still people who ‘bump’ or ‘knock into’ me. It prompted my young son to suggest tapping the white cane harder so making my presence known and also ‘sweeping’ the white cane at a wider angle to ‘protect and safeguard’ myself from other people who may be simply ignorant or `blind’ despite being sighted! It’s amazing what you can learn from the tapping of the white cane on the floor/ground. Before long, I was able to inform my dear wife about certain quality of tiled floors, e.g. hollow noise vibration detected from the white cane indicating some ‘looseness beneath the tiles, etc. The white cane, though simple is a very important mobility tool aid as I soon discovered over time. I don’t leave home without it!

I am also very grateful to Mano, a truly remarkable, unselfish and caring blind person whom I got to know at one of the IT training classes. Mano, so unselfishly spent time, every Wednesday morning without fail, to teach and showed me how to use the white cane in moving about MAB, Malaysian Association for the Blind. I am now able to locate the main office, clinic, library, toilets, canteen and the elderly blind centre on my own though I may be slow and needed to probe around a bit longer to get to the targeted destination. Slowly but surely, I shall overcome the fear and be more confident walking about on my own. I must continue to learn or discover something new everyday, a challenge I have set myself. To strive to be independent is my goal.

Append below is an extract about the history of the white cane from Wikipedia and other online sources which I have found to be interesting and informative and I am happy to share it with my readers.

There had been some earlier debate about the first ‘inventor’ of the white cane. Yes, it is between the British and the French debating about who was the first to ‘invent’ the white cane. Whoever he or she was, the white cane has certainly empowered the blind community the independence to move around with more freedom. This is definitely a positive factor for the blind community in living as normal a life as possible in our society!

“Throughout history, the cane, staff, and stick have existed as traveling aids for the blind and visually impaired. Dating back to biblical times records show that a shepherd's staff was used as a tool for solitary travel. The blind used such tools to alert them to obstacles in their path.

For centuries, the "cane" was used merely as a tool for travel and it was not until the twentieth century that the cane, as we know it today, was promoted for use by the blind as a symbol to alert others to the fact that an individual was blind.

Blind people have used canes as mobility tools for centuries, but it was not until after World War 1 that the white cane was introduced. In 1921 James Biggs, a photographer from Bristol who became blind after an accident and was uncomfortable with the amount of traffic around his home, painted his walking stick white to be more easily visible.

In 1931 in France, Guilly d'Herbemont launched a national white stick movement for blind people. In the United States, the introduction of the white cane is attributed to George A. Bonham of the Lions Clubs International [2]. In 1930, a Lions Club member watched as a man who was blind attempted to cross the street with a black cane that was barely visible to motorists against the dark pavement. The Lions decided to paint the cane white to make it more visible. In 1931, Lions Clubs International began a program promoting the use of white canes for people who are blind.

The first special White Cane Ordinance was passed in December 1930 in Peoria, Illinois granting blind pedestrians protections and the right-of-way while carrying a white cane. On October 6, 1964, a joint resolution of the Congress, HR 753, was signed into law authorizing the President of the United States to proclaim October 15 of each year as "White Cane Safety Day". President Lyndon Johnson was the first to make this proclamation. While the white cane is commonly accepted as a "symbol of blindness", different countries still have different rules concerning what constitutes a "cane for the blind".

In the United Kingdom, for example, the white cane is recognised as being used by visually impaired persons; with two red bands added it indicates that the user is deafblind.

In the United States, laws vary from state to state, but in all cases, those carrying white canes are afforded the right-of-way when crossing a road. They are afforded the right to use their cane in any public place as well. In some cases, it is illegal for a non-blind person to carry a white cane.

President Lyndon B. Johnson went down in history as the first to proclaim October 15, as White Cane Safety Day. The Presidential proclamation emphasized the significance of the use of the white cane as both a tool and as a visible symbol. In the first White Cane Proclamation, President Johnson commended blind people for the growing spirit of independence and the increased determination to be self-reliant and dignified. He said in part: "A white cane in our society has become one of the symbols of a blind person's ability to come and go on his own. Its use has promoted courtesy and opportunity for mobility of the blind on our streets and highways." During most years since 1964, the President has proclaimed October 15 as White Cane Safety Day.

On October 15, 2000, President Bill Clinton again reminded us of the history of the white cane as a tool, and its purpose as a symbol of blindness:

"With proper training, people using the white cane can enjoy greater mobility and safety by determining the location of curbs, steps, uneven pavement, and other physical obstacles in their path. The white cane has given them the freedom to travel independently to their schools and workplaces and to participate more fully in the life of their communities. It reminds us that the only barriers against people with disabilities are discriminatory attitudes and practices that our society has too often placed in their way. As we observe White Cane Safety Day, 2001, let us recall the history of the white cane, its emergence as a tool and a symbol through history; a staff of independence. Let us also recall the events that have permitted us to celebrate October 15 as White Cane Safety Day."

In the Netherlands, the foundation 'Stichting I-cane' is, together with industrial designer Monique de Wilt, developing a cane with GPS navigation and surface scanning. As of 2008, it is still a prototype, for which the route has to have been walked once before, and there can't be too many surrounding buildings because, unlike a car GPS system, it has to have a precision of a few metres. Under the user's thumb, there is an arrow that points the way by turning. The surface scanner can tell if the ground ahead moves up or down, which information is transmitted to the arrow, which then tilts forward or backward accordingly. This warns not only for obstacles, but also holes or even sheer drops, such as at a waterside. The product is expected to be perfected in a few years. “

More challenging times ahead!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Walk The Line...

“I keep a close watch on this heart of mine

I keep my eyes wide open all the time

I keep the ends out for the tie that binds

Because you’re mine

I walk the line” …… a song by the late Johnny Cash.

“I Walk the Line” an all time evergreen favourite of mine. This has literally taken on a new meaning and a new dimension in my life. This is particular so after having lost the battle fighting the Klebsiella bacteria infection a year ago. The severe attack of the bacteria caused me to lose my eyesight and it also nearly took away my life too. I was so close to Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door! It was and still is a very heavy and daunting task for me to try to walk straight or walk the line, so to speak. A simple task to the sighted but alas a big challenge for me now. At times, I really did wonder why there was the tendency or perhaps, an ‘affinity’ to walk into door edges, wall edges, and other protruding obstructions. This was particularly so, during the early days of my recovery after the operations whilst recuperating at home. Gosh! It really did hurt each time I walked into the ‘edges’ and I could feel the swelling on my forehead, knees and shin bones, too. So much so that I became very mindful of my walking, taking very slow and cautious steps each time to avoid the undue ‘collisions”. I almost took up the offer of a safety helmet, shin guards to protect myself! Due to this phobia, I dared not venture out initially, even within and around my house and garden area without my wife’s guidance. You cannot imagine my deep down frustration living in the world of darkness, cooped up at home without the guts to walk out of the house on my own. A living nightmare! My wife, too, was at loss and she had to be by my side at all times to take care of me and ensure that no undue accidents happened to me then.

It was later and on a friend’s suggestion that we contacted and went over to the MAB, Malaysia Association for the Blind for assistance and advice. My friends got me a white cane which indeed came in handy and enabled me to move about without hurting myself. It helped regain my confidence despite not knowing the proper techniques in using the white cane. Regrettably, I am still waiting to learn the proper orientation and mobility skills from the trained instructors at MAB. I am blessed to have met a fellow blind friend, Mano, who very unselfishly showed and guided me in using the white cane, mobility tips to his best knowledge and past experience learnt at MAB during his early days of losing his sight.

I move about in my house without the use of the white cane, exercising and improving my ‘mind mapping’ skill. I soon realized that I had to rely on my other senses, e.g. hearing and touch/feel, to help me to move around and get my bearings right. Mentally developing a ‘mind map’ enables me to maintain a sense of balance and alignment of directions. This is an extremely important skill to have that has enabled me to move about or walk towards to the intended destination or direction with confidence.

It is such a wonder that with modern technological advances vast educational information are readily available in the internet. I am happy to say I have learned and gained considerable useful tips and knowledge in coping with adult blindness from the internet the past several months. I came across a recent interesting article about an experiment carried out to gain more insight on the ‘sub conscious mind capability of blind and visually impaired persons. The particular blind person was able to maneuver about in a room without knocking or colliding into obstructions placed randomly in the room. Kudos! to all the doctors, scientists, technologists and engineers for their ever tireless efforts and commitments in their continuous pursuit of research and development to improve the quality of life for the blind and the visually impaired persons all over the world.

Challenging times ahead!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mother of all Pain!

What a way to start off the year 2008!! I was having a bout of diarrhea and suspected a bad flu was coming onto me, too. This happened a day into the year 2008. I could feel my neck and shoulders getting tight and my eyes getting itchy, sore and uncomfortable. I clearly recalled, then, I wrote an email from Kunming, China, to my dear wife in Malaysia that I might be coming down with a nasty attack of flu. My condition got worse despite having taken some medication prescribed by a local medical clinic. My eyes began to turn more red, and eye sight becoming blurry. I could feel the swelling and pain around the neck and a throbbing headache too. With the assistance from fellow colleagues and friends, I was admitted into a nearby private hospital

On that cold Sunday evening, in Kunming , China, the world suddenly became dark and I could not see and not knowing what was wrong with me. It was really frightening and I was scared stiff. I could feel injection needles poking into both my arms, for the intravenous drips and antibiotics throughout the night. The next morning and a daily routine after that, I had to have antibiotic via injections administered into my lower eyelids which became acutely painful and swollen after a couple of days. Further tests were carried out over the next few days, ultrasound, MRI and CT scan to pin point the source of the problem. Hong, my dear wife came over to Kunming and she was in constant discussion with the doctors about my health condition. Communication was a problem as she could hardly speak nor write Mandarin. The test results showed that my lungs and liver were infected but the doctors could not determine the bacteria or virus at the point in time. We decided to return to Malaysia for further treatment We returned to Malaysia after obtaining the green light to travel as the pressure in my eye balls were very high.

The mother of all Pain! ………..

“There will be a little bit of discomfort” the eye specialist said as he administered some drops of the local anesthesia into both my eyes. He explained that he was going to extract the ‘pus’ from the eyes and inject some medication to treat the infection and relieve the eye pressure which was still high. Suddenly, I felt a very sharp, intense and excruciating pain as the needle poked right into my right eyeball. The pain was so intense that I stayed ‘frozen’ and all I could do was taking very deep breaths in and out. Every second seemed like ages. The process was repeated with the other eye. It’s incredible that I did not pass out from such traumatizing pain. I had gone through so much pain since I was admitted into the hospital in Kunming, China. But this pain I was going through beat all the rest… was the MOTHER OF ALL PAINS!!!

Further tests showed that my liver had an abscess and so did my lungs. It was imperative that the liver abscess was drained via an operation before the eyes could undergo operations to clear the pus which were affecting the retina. Within a week I went into operating theatre twice – one for the liver abscess drained and the other to both eyes – vitrectomy to try and save my eyes and perhaps give me back some sight.

Two days post-op checkup with the eye doctor it was found that the pus was still forming and had filled up the pupil of the right eye. The specialist had to extract the pus from the right eye. “There will be a little bit of discomfort” said the doctor. My Gosh! I heard that before! The doctor inserted a needle through the incision of the eye operation and extracted 1cc of pus. The PAIN this time round was the GRANDMOTHER OF ALL PAIN! It was indescribable.

Painfully, more challenging times ahead!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Man's Best Friend

Many people keep dogs with the primary objective to guard their houses or as family pets. However, I think not many realized to what extent how dogs can be of good companions to the sick, elderly and people with disabilities. We love dogs and have three running about in our garden. The little one, Joyful, is allowed into the house and she has made it her territory, not allowing the other two larger dogs (Prosperous and Lady) to enter the house at all times. After having lost my sight a year ago, I realised that my dogs played a role in helping me get over the depression following my sudden loss of sight. During the times when I was left alone in the house with the dogs, they certainly provided me comfort, calm, and companionship. The therapeutic effect was difficult to describe or explain. Before I lost my sight, the dogs were very ‘chatty’ and playful. They loved to jump about and even onto me at times. Nowadays, perhaps knowing that I cannot see, they have are more well behaved… As I walked about in the garden these days, the dogs will just follow alongside, brushing themselves against my legs now and then, I guess to inform me of their presence, and not jumping about like those good old days.

The little dog, Joyful, with a bell around her neck, would wait for me every morning at the bottom of the staircase and be at my side sticking around me most of the time when I am in the house. At the time of typing this article, she is curled up next to my feet. She would growl and give a snapping bark if someone approached. Joyful, is ever so protective and/or maybe, her way of letting me know of the presence of another. True to the phrase, dog is a man’s best friend.

Yes, our dogs did have some basic obedience training in their early days and could take instructions such as heel, sit, down, stay and come. Even Joyful could perform some tricks, e.g. Playing ‘dead’ when ‘shot’ at and turn over when instructed. Despite all that, they are NOT trained to be blind guide dogs!

For the blind, Guide dogs will definitely be of great help to move about independently and safely, apart from the white cane. The guide dogs are trained, disciplined and their responsibility is to ensure the safety of their masters. It is such a common sight in UK and Germany to see many of the blind people walking about with the blind guide dogs around towns, or accompanying their masters in buses, trams and trains too. It was simply amazing to be able to witness such meaningful sights, when I was in the UK and Germany in one of my travels i.e. before I lost my sight. How I wish in Malaysia we can have such kind of facility. It will indeed change and empower the life of the blind community locally. I have learned from my new V.I.P (Visually Impaired Persons) friends about their past experiences in falling into open drains, walking into road sign boards, lamp posts and other obstructions when they were walking about on their own. I, too, recently had a couple of near misses during my first ever walk on my own with the guidance of my blind friends - the blind leading the blind!

I have tried to check around about the training of blind guide dogs, I was surprised and disappointed to learn that no such dogs are available here in Malaysia. Not sure if this is correct though! Any info on this matter is much appreciated.

More challenging times ahead.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lose One Gain One!

“You win some, You lose some!” A typical phrase that we say to console ourselves in time of despair. In my case, definitely a “You lose One, You Gain One!”

My loss of sight has certainly open up my eyes to my other senses. I guess it is nature’s way in maintaining equilibrium of our five senses. The past few months, apart from the continuing uphill battle in fighting the negative thoughts that frequently haunts me every now and then, I started to realize I have also become very irritated by and sensitive to noises. Television and music volume had to be lowered. My sincere apologies to my family for my frequent demands to lower the volume control. The noises were worse when I was outside in public places e.g coffee shops. It was unbearable, noises were coming from all over and it was extremely difficult to concentrate on the conversation with my wife or any other persons who were trying to talk to me.

Difficult to explain, but I soon started to realize that I could focus and differentiate, perhaps too, ‘filter’ the noises and sense the direction of the different tones. My hearing sense has sharpened since the loss of my sight. I was able to concentrate more in the conversation with my wife and friends when we were at coffee shops and other public places. Flashback to my earlier blog article, about Talking Gadgets where my niece whispered to my wife asking why uncle is wearing a watch when he cannot see, well, I could hear her well despite her soft whisper!

Now I am more at ease and comfortable with different surroundings and different public places without getting irritated or annoyed. I look forward to more improvement in my other senses, hearing, touch/feel, smell, and taste. Sharpened senses, sharpened saws! More discovery in the blind world for me.

Tips to my friends: Do say my name or give a friendly light touch of your hand when you are talking to me. Sometimes, when we are with each other, I may appear to be rude to you for not responding to your conversation or remarks. The simple reason is, I am not sure if you are talking to me or others. No point looking at me as well, as I would not know you are looking at me, as you may have forgotten I could not see.

So really, more challenging times ahead!

Monday, January 12, 2009

January 12th... A day to remember!

A short and simple love story to share… It all started thirty one years ago in the historical Oxford university town on a cold winter Saturday afternoon. You guessed it right! This story is about me and my dear wife, Hong. I still remember vividly the day, I met Hong on a walkabout tour of Oxford town, sort of free and easy day out trip, organized by the Chinese society of the Cranfield University where I was a post graduate engineering student. It was whilst waiting for the coach at the designated pick up point for the return trip, I bumped into Hong, a nurse midwife from the Bedford General Hospital. She and a friend also came on the day trip. Nothing much in common to chat and exchange other than the usual “Hello, How are you. See you and Bye Bye.” Well, strange enough or perhaps, male ego coming into play, I can hardly remember who initiated the `boy chase girl thingy.’ More importantly, our friendship blossomed into a strong bonding relationship and we happily tied the knot on 12th January, 1980.

Yes, today is our 29th wedding anniversary! Our family has grown into a family of five, two sons, a daughter and ourselves. Not to forget our three dogs, Prosperous (Labrador mixed), Lady (Labrador) and Joyful, a yakky little house dog who is the leader of the pack despite her small size! As parents, I believed that both Hong and I have done well in the upbringing of our kids, all graduates in their respective disciplines and having good traits of becoming good, caring and responsible people. We did have our fair share of ups and downs over the years, having to ride out the recessions in the eighties and the late nineties, occasional husband/wife squabbles, financial woes, etc. I strongly believe marriage, like education is a life long learning and continuous improvement process and not to take each other for granted at all times.

There is still much to learn as we continue on our life journey together and life can be full of surprises too! With the loss of my sight due to the bacteria infection last year, I need to re learn all about the living and independent skills and I am blessed that my wife, Hong is always by my side to offer her unselfish love and support and together, we are discovering and learning about the new blind world. .

Indeed, more challenging times ahead.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Talking Gadgets...

“Why is uncle wearing a watch when he cannot see?” my 22yrs old niece whispered to my wife. Before my wife could answer her, I quickly pressed the button on my watch, “Dong! It’s 5.45pm” an artificially synthesized western female voice shouted from my watch. We had a good laugh and that answered the question. Yes, a talking watch! You cannot imagine and understand my frustration about not being able to keep track of time of day and when I cannot see. What a difference this simple talking watch makes in my life since. Yes, I chanced upon it during my first visit to the MAB, Malaysian Association for the Blind.

A young bright young lad, 9yrs old Benjamin, back home for the Christmas break from Abu Dhabi with his family, was so fascinated with my talking watch and I gave it to him as a Christmas present. It does make one feels good when ‘seeing’ another happy! I got myself another replacement a few days after that.

It is marvelous that technology has advanced at such a rapid pace and it has certainly helped to make life so much better for the blind and I believe too, also for the other less fortunate people all over the world. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn from my new VIPs (visually impaired persons) friends about the gadgets some of them have. Talking weighing machine, talking thermometer, talking telephone shouting out caller ID numbers and talking mobile phones. I believe there are several more of talking gadgets out there which we may not have heard of yet.

After getting myself a talking mobile phone a few months back, it has given me so much fun and pleasure. I am able to operate the new phone just like any other normal sighted person, i.e. composing, sending and receiving SMS/Emails, retrieve/edit/update contact list, surf and browse the internet.

There is still so much more to discover in the world of technology especially for the visually impaired. Indeed it has empowered people like me the independence in maintaining communication with both sighted and the non sighted friends.

Phew! More challenging times ahead!

Friday, January 9, 2009

No more Mouse!

Yes, I said , "No more Mouse" and I am referring to the PC Mouse. Most of us, including myself when I was still sighted, have been so used to having the PC Mouse or the Mousepad on the laptop as a standard tool to execute the work on the computer. I would dare say that many of us would be helpless without the Mouse, would be left staring at the computer screen and not able to remember or recall the various Window keystroke commands learnt before.

I first visited MAB, Malaysian Association for the Blind in early March 2008 with my dear wife to explore if there were any program/s, e.g. counselling, etc to help me. I was feeling very depressed, weak and in the midst of recovering from the liver and eye operations which were performed in mid January 2008. Sad to say though, I too felt the pain and the sadness that my wife had to endure along with me but I could not do anything about it. The IT department caught my attention and I said to myself, "I must re learn IT skills, using whatever methods and technology that the department can offer." I found out then that a basic week long IT course was scheduled in March 2008 and signed up, but much to my disappointment, I had to give it a miss as my health condition was not ready. I managed to attend the said course in mid July 2008, the last basic course for the year. It was the best decision made then.

I shall always remember En. Rahim, Head of IT department and En. Fazlin, IT Instructor at MAB, for without them this blog would not have materialise. Without their support and kind assistance rendered in the re learning of IT for the visually impaired, I would not have been able to use JAWS Screen Reader software, Microsoft Window applications, Skype, MSN and emails without the need of using the PC Mouse! There is much more to learn and I will make it a point to attend all the available IT courses scheduled for this year, 2009.

En. Rahim's quote that remained entrenched in my mind.. "Here in MAB, there is only one race, i.e. the Blind race irrespective of anything else." En. Fazlin's quote which too, will be remembered.. "We, blind computer users, do not use mouse but we use our hands and fingers to move around the keyboard". Both gentlemen are also like me - visually impaired.

"True to say, "More challenging times ahead!"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Challenging times ahead 1...

"Life is full of surprises!" a common phrase which people in general, utters during coffee and tea chats, lunch and dinner get together. This is definitely true and it completely changed my life. This happened only just a year back to be exact. At the age of 54 yrs, I suddenly lost my sight as a result of a bacteria infection. The verocious bacteria, Klebsiella, affected my lungs, liver and eyes.

Yr2008, what a year it was and I shall always remember as the year of much pain, liver and eye operations, sadness and depression, feeling completely lost and helplessness as the ordeal was so sudden. I have to say this that my family's strong love and caring support played the most crucial and important role in giving me a new purpose in life during and after my ordeal. I am truly blessed to have such a loving and caring family, especially my dear wife, Hong. As an active and a determined person by nature, I kept telling myself that I must overcome this predicament and move forward with life. I have to begin learning new skills such as orientation and mobility so that I can be independent as much as I can be.

Over the past few months, I was contemplating starting a blog which would allow me to pen my experiences, thoughts and how I was coping with the new blind world, perhaps too, share it with others in similar plight about coping with adult blindness. With the help of IT technology I am able to create this blog on my own efforts despite my blindness. I believe as time goes by, the quality of my blog will improve in line with further improvement of my IT skills. Thanks to my children, sons WernKidd and WernJhien who helped to register this blog and provided me with the starting tools to blog, so to speak, and daughter WernYi for the encouragement to make it a reality!

To Blog is one of my New Year Resolutions, and Make it Happen is the other resolution. So I am making it happen now. I hope to share more of my past and present experiences at MAB, Malaysia Association for the Blind, meeting new blind /visually impaired friends who unselfishly showed and provided all the support in helping me to get back on track in life. Well, more challenging times ahead.