Had a privilege to visit the St. Nicholas’ Home (SNH), Penang for the visually impaired with Penny Leong yesterday (7 Oct 09). We met up with the home’s Executive Director , Mr Ooi Chee Khoon who happened to be my ex-colleague and good friend. The main objective why we were there was to explore ways to see how we could teach the visually impaired to use internet marketing to upgrade their lives financially.
And since all of us have no experience on how the visually impaired are trained, we wanted to request for a permission from the home to allow a small team of our volunteers to sit in and attend one of their computer training lessons to gain some experiences. And we were delighted that Mr Ooi consented to our request. In fact, he even took us for a personal tour of the home and we were impressed with the many facilities that are available in the home. They have 2 well equipped computer labs (one was sponsored by Samsung), bakery, handicraft center, hostel and meeting rooms to rent, and even a wellness center where one could get a good full body massage, chair massage, foot reflexology, and Shiatsu (Japanese massage), all at a very attractive rate, attended by qualified masseurs.
At the computer lab, we met Mr Amir Teh (also visually impaired) who is the computer instructor for the home who demonstrated to us how the visually impaired uses a computer. They do not use the screen or mouse but only a normal keyboard and speakers. Instead of seeing, they are using a screen reading software to read out the text on the screen for them. What amazed me was that they have a very “sharp” hearing and could hear readings in a high speed. I tried and failed miserably. Now I know who is handicapped. Not them but me! God is fair, He gave the visually impaired great hearing abilities to offset their lost of sights. Mr Amir also showed us how they surf the net to “read” the daily online news and for information from the internet. And that was not all, we were also told that there are some of them who are bloggers. In St. Nicholas’ Home, it is the visually impaired that trained themselves.
Now, that is really good news to us because at least we now know that learning computers is not a problem for them. The only adjustments we need to make is to change the way we teach. We have to learn from them first before we are able to share with them our internet marketing knowledge.
Now that the consent has been granted, it is time for me to assemble a small team of volunteers to go in and start teaching internet marketing to the visually impaired of St. Nicholas’ Home, Penang on a weekly basis soon. And hopefully, our efforts could actually benefit the visually impaired so that they are able to compete in a level playing field which is available in the internet as it discriminates no one, regardless of physical condition.
Visiting St. Nicholas Home has indeed being a great eye opener for me, knowing now that there are so much potentials in there that are not being explored. The visually impaired don’t need our sympathy but rather an equal opportunity to succeed just like everyone else.