A GROUP of 69 visually impaired trainees from St Nicholas Home went on a familiarisation tour of Penang Sentral, tackling with ease the challenge of moving around the place and buying a train ticket.
Home general manager David Chiang was proud of their skills.
“They need to be shown something only once or twice and after that, they can board the ferry from the island, buy a train ticket in Butterworth and get on a train to go anywhere they want all by themselves, ” he said.
Chiang said blind people use their remaining senses much more acutely than sighted people.
“They hear more and feel more when they touch.
“They develop an extra sensitive awareness of their surroundings so they can still move about even when they can’t see, ” he said at the end of the tour.
The trainees, led by 20 instructors, were clearly familiar with the ferry terminal on the island and made their way easily.
After crossing over, they held their instructors’ hands and were shown which way to turn towards Penang Sentral and which escalators to take to get to the ticket counters.
Then they were shown the way to the train station and also the bus terminal.
“Our objective is to encourage our trainees to use public transport and at the same time, to show the staff at Penang Sentral how to help them, ” he said.
The familiarisation tour was part of the home’s programmes for White Cane Day 2019 on Oct 15.
Chiang said Penang Sentral was disabled-friendly and hoped more improvements could be added.
Among the visually impaired was Lim Yeu Yi, 35, who was grateful to be shown the way because he hails from Perlis.
“Now, I can travel back to my hometown more easily, ” he said.
Nawal Khairil Anwar, 28, said she was now eager for a chance to try going to Penang Sentral and buy a train ticket by herself.
“This is good exposure for us and will greatly help those who are not confident enough to use public transport, ” she said.
Mogana Anbu Selvan, 34, hoped the public would be more considerate when they see a disabled person using public transport.
“I hope more Malaysians can change their attitude towards disabled people and be more helpful, ” she said.
Penang Accessibility Action Group chairman Chris Lee Chun Kit, who was at the tour, said the public must remember that disabled people need accessibility too.
Lee, who is Pulau Tikus assemblyman, said: “This is a world where everyone is included and no one is left behind.
“As an inclusive government, we must remember that the disabled are part of our community.”
Also present were St Nicholas Home chairman Bishop Datuk Charles Samuel, Malaysian Buddhist Association charity and service officer Venerable Sing Kan and Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad representative Chan Wai Loong.
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