Walking in the shoes of the blind


A blindfolded fireman picking up an egg replica using a spoon at a station game booth during the World Sight Day 2020 celebration at St Nicholas Home. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

WITH a white cane in hand and a little faith, Mohamad Khazaen Mat Nasir put on a blindfold and stepped into the world of the visually impaired.

The 28-year-old teacher gamely tried moving around on his own.

Mohamad Khazaen using a white cane to walk while blindfolded.Mohamad Khazaen using a white cane to walk while blindfolded.

He was taking part in the World Sight Day 2020 celebration held at St Nicholas Home (SNH) in Jalan Bagan Jermal, Penang.

“This is a whole new experience for me.

“I never imagined that it would be this difficult to move around without eyesight.

“It has definitely embedded an awareness in me that I have been taking my eyesight for granted all these while.

Visitors learning how the visually impaired use their sense of touch to handle  currency notes.Visitors learning how the visually impaired use their sense of touch to handle currency notes.

“Having a blindfold on does not only restrict movements but also takes away a lot of the experiences one can have, ” he said when met at the event.

Mohamad Khazaen, who experienced walking on raised pavements designed for the visually impaired within the home, said he learnt how the visually impaired navigated their surroundings.

“This is new to me. I learnt a lot today.”

During the event, some representatives from various schools and government agencies such as the police, Fire and Rescue Department, state Welfare Department and Penang Island City Council took part in station games and watched displays at the educational booths.

A visitor threading beads while blindfolded at a station game booth.A visitor threading beads while blindfolded at a station game booth.

They wore blindfolds while trying to carry out activities like picking up rocks and stones, walking, drawing and feeling items in boxes.

SNH assistant general manager Elsey Akop said the theme for this year’s celebration was ‘Hope in Sight’.

“This is the first time that we are holding this event through invitation only.

“In previous years, it was always open to the public but due to Covid-19, we had to follow certain SOPs and thus scale it down.

“As such, we invited only representatives.

“The aim is to raise awareness on the importance of eye health.

Elsey: The aim is to raise  awareness on the importance of eye healthElsey: The aim is to raise awareness on the importance of eye health

“We also invited an optometrist to give a talk.

“We hope the representatives will benefit from the talk and share what they have learnt with those around them.”

Association of Malaysian Optometrists Penang chapter president Khew Jong Mei, who gave the talk, said it was important for the public to be aware of eye health and how to prevent vision impairment.

“It is best for children above the age of three to get an eye check-up annually so underlying issues can be detected and early treatments or vision therapy can be carried out.”

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World Sight Day , blind , visually impaired

   

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