We started our visit in Hong Kong, visiting the three main nonprofits there serving the blind.
- The Hong Kong Society for the Blind Home Page
- The Hong Kong Blind Union | 香港失明人協進會: 本會新消息 (website has no English)
- Ebenezer School & Home for the Visually Impaired | 心光盲人院暨學校
Our timing was great: we had excellent meetings in all three places. I learned a lot about how blind people deal with Chinese: I thought it would be a difficult language to make accessible. I saw this cool software where you type in using Braille chords the sound of the character you want (first picture) , and then it gives you a list of similar-sounding characters along with a brief description (second picture). For example, chord 'em', 'ee', 'en', and get "mean- to mean", "mean-cheap", "mean-nasty", "mien-face", etc.
After talking about Hadley's work in China, Chuck Young allowed me to address an audience at the university about how Bookshare.org could be used in Hong Kong and China. This helped lead to several great conversations with the different agencies about Bookshare in China and Hong Kong.
Right now, we're obtaining many permissions from publishers to serve an international audience, and we'll have some interesting options for blind and print disabled people in Hong Kong. In addition, Hong Kong passed a copyright exemption just in the last year, and the leaders in Hong Kong are considering how to utilize this new tool. I'm excited about working with them, and hope it leads to doing a lot more in Hong Kong and in mainland China. Of course, the Bookshare.org way is to provide a path to people helping each other: as technologists we're enablers. I found the people here eager to get to work. I guess that's a Hong Kong characteristic!
Of course, we were able to squeeze in a little sightseeing around Hong Kong, including a visit to the Aberdeen Harbor and catching the view from Victoria Peak. It's impressive what people in Hong Kong have done with their tiny patch of China.