On 5 October 2022, we, a group of Nursing students from IMU, went for a field visit to the Malaysian Association for the Blind. Upon arrival, we were briefed by one of the staff who unfortunately became blind when he just newly enrolled into his college back in 2006. He was diagnosed with glaucoma which had later resulted in blindness. He shared his story about how his vision was affected and how he counters this major challenge in his life. From his statement, initially he could barely focus his vision which has now gradually progressed to cloudy vision where everything he sees is like looking into a fog.
At the beginning, he used a duration of 3 months to learn basic Braille to read texts and messages. In order to adapt into his new lifestyle, he transformed his handphone with a specially designed setting for blind people on the phone where each item he pressed on will have a background sound to direct him to the right way. He even watched Netflix where there is a narrative that describes the movie scene and characters featured to him. I am amazed while at same time thinking that advanced technology nowadays can provide many accessibilities to the blind where they, as a human being, can live a normal life as well.
Besides, we also went to the embosser operation room where all Braille documents, books and references are processed and printed. One of the staff with vision impairment has shown us how they use a general keyboard to type in Braille language on the computer. Every key pressing on the keyboard look complicated for us as they were inputting in Braille. I’m impressed by all the efforts they have made in the past as everything seems different as compared to our lifestyle. I couldn’t imagine if I were in their situation what would I be as adopting a new journey is challenging.
Like us, they also have various subjects to learn in different grades such as Mathematics, Sciences attached with diagrams in Braille, English etc. The higher the grade, the simplest form of Braille will be used. According to the staff, all books that were printed will be distributed for free to all the blind people around Malaysia.
Each of these books are firmly attached with all papers that are thick and the materials are different form the normal paper. Apart from that, there’s another shinny and silky material of paper being used to emboss the picture of the diagram used for the illustration of human body anatomy and physiology. These papers are reusable for at least three times which I think is very eco-friendly.
Moving on to their library, each of the books were embossed with Braille and on the wall, there were some introductions about the creator of Braille, Louis Braille. More than that, Braille also comes in different code such as Thailand, Indonesia, French and more, which surprises me.
Next, the staff also introduced us to the Braille watch and weighing machine with sound, and some of the games they can get involved with like chess and snake board. Not to mention, there are few recording rooms attached to the library, where we can volunteer ourselves as a storyteller to the blind.
Overall, I think it was a great exposure for me to learn how the blind cope at the blind center. Through this visit, I have learned and know more about the blind people and things that they could do in their daily life such as watching Netflix as well as replying emails. The availability of technologies has enabled them to go about their life as usual and I wish that in the future, there will be more technologies to eliminate their limitations.
Written by Liew Jie Nee, NU 120
Reviewed by: Siti Hajar Ali & Dr Lim Swee Geok