China Focus: Books light up lives of visually impaired

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-23 22:07:18|Editor: Li Xia
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WUHAN, April 23 (Xinhua) -- For most people, reading brings joy, wisdom and enlightenment; but for Liang Anna who is unable to see, reading is her whole world.

Liang, 77, sits in a reading room in Jianyi Community in the city of Wuhan, leaning over a desk and touching the "bumps" on pages of a braille book.

"Books light up my world and make me a complete person," Liang said. She lost her eyesight when she was only three years old during the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945).

Liang is reading a book named "Mother." Wandering between the lines, she feels how great a mother's love is. Without her own mother's support and encouragement, she would be unable to read braille, and her world would still be in endless darkness and loneliness.

The reading room Liang visits every day is the only community-based reading room for the blind in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province.

It was set up in 2014 to enrich the lives of more than 200 visually impaired people who once worked in a nearby welfare factory, according to Wang Cairong, Party chief of the Jianyi Community, Qiaokou District. Nearly 500 braille books and audio materials, as well as computers equipped with screen-reading software, are available there.

Yao Chunrong, who has a visual impairment, is a frequent visitor to this reading room. The books she has borrowed range from classic masterpieces to books featuring entertainment and massage techniques.

"In the past, listening to the radio was my only choice of entertainment," Yao said. "But now I can read books and chat with friends online. My life is not dark anymore. It is colorful."

China has over 17 million blind and visually-impaired people. Losing one's sight can change a person's life -- even seemingly insignificant things like being able to read a book or watch a film or television.

"Most blind people feel inferior because of their physical disabilities. They usually lead an isolated life," said Chen Guangming, a cadre responsible for disability issues in the community. "The reading room had provided a platform for them to exchange ideas and share personal stories."

With more active readers, over 200 books were borrowed from the reading room last year, while the figure was only a dozen five years ago.

"When will the reading room buy new braille e-books? It will make our reading more convenient," said Xia Bole, a visually-impaired bookworm.

Xia's hope was echoed by Yu Jianqun, head of the Qiaokou District Library. Yu said the reading room for the visually impaired is facing many challenges, such as slow updates, poor book selections, and the high cost of audiobooks.

"The application of audiobooks is expensive because it requires professional guidance and auxiliary equipment," he said on the World Book and Copyright Day which falls on Tuesday.

The Jianyi Community is working with the local disabled persons' federation and library to put more books on the shelves of the reading room, organize activities for readers, and explore door-to-door services based on readers' needs.

By the end of 2017, China had more than 959 reading rooms for braille and audio reading materials, which were built in the public libraries at the county, prefectural and provincial levels nationwide, according to the China Disabled Persons' Federation.

"Reading more books especially good ones can make people more knowledgeable and confident," said Liu Chuanling, director with the publicity department of Qiaokou District. "As for the right to read, no one can be left behind."