Stu­dent makes light work of dis­abil­ity

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

does not of­fer a blind can­di­dates.

It took Zheng three years of in­ten­sive study to score suf­fi­cient points in the IELTS, the lan­guage-flu­ency test es­sen­tial for uni­ver­sity ad­mis­sion in Bri­tain. Tak­ing the ver­sion of the test for blind can­di­dates re­quires 10 hours.

Des­mond Thomas, TESOL course leader at theUniver­sity of Es­sex, of­fered Zheng a place in the course de­spite his limited teach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Here was a per­son­whowas determined to break out of the con­fines of his dis­abil­ity, travel to an­other coun­try and study along­side ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers who were also na­tive speak­ers of English,” Thomas told China Daily.

Zheng was the first blind Chi­nese stu­dent to study at the uni­ver­sity and the only one with a dis­abil­ity in his class of 13 stu­dents. His class­mates came from China, Bri­tain, Jor­dan and Kaza­khstan.

Living and study­ing abroad, Zheng faced many hur­dles.

It took him a month to mem­o­rize the 1.6-km route from his apart­ment to the uni­ver­sity and at least two hours to pre­pare a sim­ple meal.

Even with help from an aca­demic as­sis­tant of­fered by the uni­ver­sity, it took him hours to scan read­ing ma­te­rial into his com­puter so that he could use a screen reader, a soft­ware ap­pli­ca­tion to as­sist the vis­ually im­paired.

Zheng does not plan to rest on his lau­rels.

“I want to get a PhD and work for ed­u­ca­tion for the dis­abled,” he said. “Only through ed­u­ca­tion can we gain more free­dom.”

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