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Specialized travel tours offered for visually impaired

Shenyang elderly care center fulfilling more than just basic needs for people with disabilities

By Li Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-21 08:58
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Some visually impaired people, along with volunteers from the charity group Huoshen Nuanxin, tour Lu Xun Park in Shanghai in October 2020. YANG JIANZHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Eye injury

Among those on the trip to Thailand was 53-year-old Tang Xiantao.

As Tang is not fully blind — he can discern rough outlines and colors — he was able to chip in and sometimes help the guides during their tour.

While usually one guide was assigned to every two visitors, one volunteer ended up overseeing four people one day. "The guide led the way, with the blind travelers following behind in a slow-moving 'train', their hands resting on each other's shoulders," Tang recalled.

He invited two blind companions to lean on him as the group cautiously navigated a bustling Bangkok street. "I wasn't certain how the locals viewed us, but we must have appeared somewhat peculiar to them."

Tang's life took a drastic turn in 2013 after a car accident left him visually impaired, forcing him to quit his well-paid job at a tech company in Beijing. For five years, he stayed primarily at home while seeking various treatments, only to realize his eyesight wouldn't return.

After the eye injury, everything felt unfamiliar. "I used to drive perfectly, but then suddenly I feared even walking," he said.

During one rare outing to a park in Beijing with his wife and daughter, Tang almost drowned. While his sighted companions climbed rocks next to a pond, Tang opted to stay below. However, the blending hues of the water and ground caused a disorienting effect, and he tumbled into the pond.

This added to a growing fear of venturing outdoors, which gradually took a toll on his health, causing significant weight gain.

A change came in 2019 when Tang's pride was stung by his young daughter's innocent query: "Why doesn't papa need to go to work?"

"I didn't want her to think less of me or be negatively impacted by my situation," he said. The father then embarked on a journey of self-improvement. He started running at the Olympic Forest Park, a habit he continues today. He also started writing and offering voluntary services for the blind. As a result, he shed 25 kilograms and has become more receptive to outings and social engagements.

He traveled to Tianjin and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, and even to Russia on family vacations — all accompanied by his wife. But he'd never traveled without her after his injury. That is, until the trip to Thailand with Haiman Smart Eldercare Center.

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