Lawyer with visual impairment in N China’s Tianjin inspires many like him

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Wang makes courseware with a laptop. (Photo from the media center of Nankai district, Tianjin municipality)
Wang makes courseware with a laptop. (Photo from the media center of Nankai district, Tianjin municipality)

By Gong Xiangjuan

At an accessibility communication center named Xinzhiguang, which means “the light of heart,” in north China’s Tianjin municipality, Wang Hui was sitting in front of a computer, preparing for a speech to be delivered at a conference in the afternoon.

Wang was invited by Tianjin’s municipal health commission to provide an interpretation of relevant policies in internet information accessibility, so as to assist in the construction of accessible medical service information platforms.

Wang is the first person with visual impairment in Tianjin to obtain a legal professional qualification. In high school, Wang was diagnosed with optic atrophy, and doctors advised him to transfer to a school for visually impaired students, as they believed he would not be able to pass the college entrance exams. 

However, Wang refused to give up and said, “How would I know if I don’t even try?” In the end, with several times the effort of an average person, he was admitted to Lanzhou University, a renowned higher institution in northwest China’s Gansu province.

In his sophomore year, Wang’s eye disease worsened, forcing him to take a one-year leave from university. However, he decided to go back to campus, hoping to graduate successfully like his fellow classmates. Unable to see, he relied on recording and listening repeatedly. In 2008, he became the first graduate of his university with visual impairment.

Wang Hui is optimistic and loves to ponder. Whenever he encounters problems in mobility, daily life, or work, he takes note of them and seeks out others to discuss possible solutions. His go-to phrase is, “There’s always a way, and I just need time to find it.” If he doesn’t know how to use a new product, he requests a user manual from customer service. And if he notices design details that overlook the practical needs of individuals with visual impairment, he isn’t hesitant to provide direct feedback.

In the past, what persons with visual impairment read was only barille and their entertainment is nothing else but listening to the radio. To solve this problem, Wang has spent over a decade working with friends to develop screen reading software, tackle information barriers and teach persons with visual impairment to use cell phones and computers. 

Zhao, 60, who lost her sight due to illness, came to Wang to learn how to use a cell phone. Staying from 9 am to 5 pm, she told Wang, “It’s so great to have your help, and this makes me confident again in my future.”

An elderly learner with full visual impairment sent a poem to a friend through his mobile phone after learning there. Upon receiving a reply, he expressed his gratitude to Wang, holding the latter’s hand. “Wang, thank you! You are the eyes for us,” the elderly learner said.

In the past, Wang’s focus was on technology. However, the gratitude and expectations for him from his learners made him realize he could do even more.

The power of an individual is limited, so Wang started thinking how to make the society pay more attention to the visually impaired group and build an accessible environment for persons with disabilities. He believes in addition to technology, legal protection is also needed.

Ten years after graduation from university, Wang decided to take the legal professional qualification examination. He got up at 4 am every day in order to complete the over 1,500 hours of audio courses. He took electronic notes while listening to the courses, and after finishing work, he kept listening until late at night. This compressed his daily sleep time to only four to five hours.

Being afraid that examinees with visual impairment would be denied entry to examination rooms, Wang wrote a letter to the justice bureau of Tianjin municipality explaining his situation. To his surprise, three or four days later, he received a notification allowing him to participate in the exam. 

The justice bureau of Tianjin municipality arranged a separate examination room for Wang, who independently completed all the subjects using screen reading software.

In 2019, Wang successfully passed the exam and joined a local law firm in Tianjin, becoming the first lawyer with visual impairment in Tianjin. Wang’s story has inspired more people with visual impairment to build confidence and make a change.

Wang, after careful consideration, established a Xinzhiguang smart classroom as an online platform that aims to break geographical barriers and expand the coverage of public services for visually impaired individuals. 

To cater to visually impaired individuals with no prior experience in using the internet, he also keeps the brick-and-mortar Xinzhiguang accessibility communication center to provide legal education, and share knowledge about smart devices and practical life skills. The Yunyangli community in Nankai district, Tianjin, provides a venue for the Xinzhiguang accessibility communication center.

In 2023, Wang was appointed as an observer for public interest litigation at the People’s Procuratorate of Tianjin. During his tenure, Wang handled an administrative public interest litigation case, which aimed to ensure barrier-free access for visually impaired individuals in public transportation. This case was selected as a typical example of accessibility environment construction in public interest litigation by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate in 2023.

With unwavering determination and relentless efforts, Wang illuminated a beacon of hope and strength for other persons with visual impairment through concrete actions. He brought light into their lives, instilling them with renewed hope and resilience.

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