Since March 2019, a group of volunteer families at Shanghai American School, Pudong Campus has collaborated and strived with Orbis International – as well as our student-run volunteer club, Our World with a Vision (established in September 2020) – to improve the quality of education for visually impaired children attending the Shanghai School for the Blind (SSB). Through online one-on-one English classes, our organization regularly assists between 20 to 30 blind students in improving their comprehension, speech, and confidence to use the language. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Orbis volunteers could not interact with SSB pupils in-person until the spring of 2021, hindering the enriching learning experiences that arise from group activities and mass gatherings. As a result, it was an immense pleasure to be able to host an offline event on June 6th.
On this day, the Orbis organization and Shanghai American School (SAS) club collaborated with families of the Shanghai School for the Blind (SBS) to celebrate China National Sight Day. June 6th not only commemorates the rising inclusivity of the visually impaired into Chinese society, but it simultaneously recognizes the large populations of the blind in the country who still require adequate healthcare and education.
To do this special day justice, Orbis invited Mr. Hu, a retired SSB instructor specializing in teaching students to visualize their surroundings by taking pictures with their phones. Through live demonstrations with SAS volunteers and SSB pupils, Mr. Hu proved the necessity for the visually impaired to be spatially aware and how digital photography can assist them in doing so. SAS volunteers and SSB children then paired up, taking photos of each other and the venue to start developing the skills taught in the lecture.
Following this portion of the event, we delved into our English session, which focused on learning the essential vocabulary and habits the blind need to know when preparing their own food, such as making sandwiches. Words and phrases about key ingredients and the safety measures practiced when handling kitchen equipment were all included in the lesson, and were later put to the test. Based on the English material introduced, SSB students were tasked with assembling their own sandwiches, culminating in a festive lunch party that allowed everyone attending the gathering to socialize and indirectly bridge the divide between the able-bodied and the visually impaired, perfectly reflecting the purpose of China National Sight Day.