WBU-AP Otsuki Award
Changing WhatIt Means ToBe Blind With BrailleAnd Mobility Aids
Hong Kong Ho Ka Leung (26/Male)

photo: Ho Ka Leung 

A long, long time ago, there was a village called "VI Village". In this Village, there were lots of animals living together.

There was a big wall surrounding the Village to protect the animals. In fact, none of them had ever left the Village as it was very dangerous for them to go outside. Therefore, they were all very curious about what was happening on the other side of the wall and what the world looked like on the outside. Among all of them, only Giraffe was tall enough to look outside the wall.

"What does the outside world look like?" many animals asked Giraffe curiously.

"It's very nice! It's so colourful outside!" Giraffe replied. She tried her best to describe what she saw but the other animals found it hard to catch the whole picture.

One day, Most Talkative Frog came to Giraffe and begged, "Please let me climb up onto your neck so that I too can see the world outside."

With great excitement, Most Talkative Frog told the other animals what he saw. "I can see so many kinds of flowers, trees, grasses and fruits that we have never seen before. Oh, and there's a big river outside our Village. Now I really do understand what Giraffe meant when she said `Nice and colourful"'."

With more concrete descriptions from Most Talkative Frog, the other animals became even more eager to learn about the outside world. Rabbit, who had very good hearing, climbed onto Giraffe and told the animals what he saw.

"The people outside this wall are very clever! Not only can I see them but I can also hear them talking about new methods of planting and how to take care of their children."

Thus, as time passed, the animals were able to develop many new and different perspectives in looking at the world around them. They were greatly inspired by what they saw from the outside and gained many new ideas to develop their talents and improve their lives. Giraffe, however, was getting very tired from having to carry her friends every day to see the outside world.

One day, Clever Monkey saw some grapes on a vine climbing up a frame. This inspired him to invent the ladder so that even the heavier animals like Cow, Horse and Pig could also have the opportunity of climbing to the top of the wall to look over the other side. At long last, Giraffe could take a well earned rest.

In the past, the blind and vision-impaired were in a similar situation as the animals in VI Village. The blind could only receive information by listening to descriptions from other people. This passive way of receiving information hindered them from learning and growth.

Then came Braille which enabled them to receive information directly and to explore new ideas from books and newspapers. The introduction of technological aids like the computer with speech software enabled the blind to gain direct access to information on the Internet. Then, fast on the heels of Braille came the mobility aids; this enabled the blind to move out into the world around them to learn new things and gain their own experiences of life.

Consequently, the doors to education right up to university level were opened up to the blind. In this way, the blind became literate and were able to communicate effectively with other people. This enabled them to develop their own platforms to express ideas, acquire talents and provide solutions.

The story of the VI Village has not ended yet. One day, Eagle, who lived far away, descended from the sky and told the animals, "You can never see the whole world even though you climb a ladder. You can see only a small city outside this Village. There are far more cities that you can't see with the help of this ladder. There are mountains, deserts and oceans that you can never imagine! You will never be able to see all these things unless you climb onto my back and fly with me!"

"Is that true?" The animals cried. "But isn't it dangerous to leave VI Village? How can we manage in the sky? Is the view so amazing for us to take the risk? How can we come back here without the ladder?"

"Hey, I think we can do it," said Brave Dog. "We have shown that with courage, we could climb on Giraffe and the Monkey Ladder to see the outside world. Let us now learn from our past experiences."

"But wouldn't our past efforts be wasted?" Kitten asked with a worried meow. "Our next generation will forget how Giraffe and Monkey helped us with the ladder."

"Definitely not!" said Little Hedgehog. "We shouldn't limit ourselves by our fears. Otherwise what we have learnt from our past will be truly wasted. We should try to jump out of the box to see the world. I really want to go out and explore. Then I can come back and contribute not only to VI Village, but to the whole world as well! Hey guys, let's not look down on ourselves!"

Then Eagle called out, "So, who's ready to come with me to explore the wonderful world outside?"


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