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  • Chris McMillan

Ambitious vision for keeping in touch

China Daily

28th December 2006

Ambitious vision for keeping in touch

China is the country with not only the largest population, but also the largest number of disabled people nearly 83 million, or about the entire population of Germany.

Of that number, more than 12 million cannot physically see the country's development with their own eyes. They are China's visually impaired.

"The lives of its disabled people cast a spotlight on the flip side of China's economic miracle," said Stephen Hallett, who is visually handicapped himself.

Up to 90 per cent of all visually impaired people live in rural areas. Rough estimates suggest that almost 80 per cent of these people have very poor or no access to media channels, Hallett said.

"I am eager to learn, but I cannot learn as freely as before I became blind," said Jin Ling, 23, of Tianjin. "I miss the information around me."

Jin is currently part of a project that is training her to become a radio producer.

The project, In Touch for China, was launched on October 15 in Beijing by a British charity, the BBC World Service Trust, and is funded by the British Big Lottery Fund.

The 19-month project will train six people at its centre in Beijing and 30 others from different provinces to work from their own homes as freelance correspondents for the programme. All the trainees are blind or have partial sight.

The idea is to provide information for the disabled, especially the visually impaired, based on need, through professional media production training. The result will be a weekly radio programme produced by the visually impaired producers involved in the project and broadcast on not only Chinese radio stations, but also the Internet.

The idea came from the BBC's weekly 15-minute radio show "In Touch," which has been running for more than 40 years in the UK.

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