Being blind and young in China 中国的视障青年

2020年9月
 

Only five blind students took China’s university entrance exam this year. What a waste of potential
今年只有五名盲人学子参加了中国的高考。这是对潜能的极大浪费 

 

Being blind and young in China 中国的视障青年


SEVERAL STARTLING things awaited 20 blind Chinese youngsters attending a residential course last month in Shanghai, designed to prepare them for university. Adult instructors, many of them also blind, broached topics that protective parents rarely raise, from the rules of raucous student party-games to the perils of falling in love. Learning to navigate a campus alone is not just about finding libraries or canteens, noted Yang Qingfeng of Golden Cane, the charity organising the course. It is pretty vital if teenagers ever hope to go on unchaperoned dates.
二十名中国盲人青少年参加了8月在上海举办的一个寄宿式培训营,帮助他们为上大学做好准备,其中有些内容让他们意想不到。课程的成人导师——有很多本身也是盲人——提到了保护型父母们很少会提及的话题,从喧闹的学生派对的游戏规则到恋爱的风险等。筹办该课程的公益机构金盲杖的杨青风指出,学会独自在校园生活不仅仅关乎找得到图书馆或食堂。如果少年人有朝一日想在没人监护的情况下去约会,这种自主能力是至关重要的。
In pep talks, students were urged to think beyond the few careers traditionally offered to blind Chinese. Since the 1950s, when China opened vocational schools for disabled war veterans, the visually impaired have typically been pushed to become musicians or, above all, to work as masseurs in state-run clinics or private parlours. People may say there is nothing wrong with being a masseur, a rapt audience heard from Cai Cong, who attended a blind-massage college a decade ago before persuading his parents to let him work as a radio journalist. Well that is fine, said Mr Cai—as long as it is your choice.
在开营讲话中,导师鼓励学生拓宽思路,在展望前程时不要局限于提供给中国盲人青年的那几种传统职业。中国在上世纪50年代开设了残疾退伍军人职业学校,自那以后视障人士通常都被引导从事音乐类工作,或者最常见的——在国营医院或私人按摩院做按摩师。人们可能会说做按摩师没什么不好的,蔡聪对全神贯注的学员们说。他自己十年前上了盲人按摩学校,后来说服父母让他去做广播记者。是没什么不好,蔡聪说,只要是你自己选的就行。
Several students, all neatly clad in black trousers and yellow polo shirts, admitted to nerves about the final test of the course. It will involve leaving the hotel alone to find a place to eat in central Shanghai, trailed by sighted volunteers who will intervene only if danger looms. Yet the real novelty of the course is arguably simpler. For this small group of youngsters—at once unusually brave and at the same time awkward and quick to dissolve in nervous giggling—the course promises seven days focused on what they can do, not on things deemed unwise, unsafe or beyond them.
学员们都整齐划一地穿着黑色长裤和黄色polo衫,其中有几个坦言对课程的结业考感到紧张。考查内容包括独自离开酒店,在上海市中心找地方吃饭,视力正常的志愿者会跟在后面,只有在出现危险时才会干预。不过该课程真正的新颖之处或许可以说更为简单。针对这个少数年轻人群体——他们异常勇敢的同时又笨拙尴尬,很容易就紧张地咯咯笑起来,这个为期七天的课程承诺专注于他们能做到的事情,而不是被视为不明智、不安全或超出他们能力范围的事情。
This is almost certainly the best moment to be blind in Chinese history. The past was often exceedingly grim. Chinese literature is filled with stories of blind people who survive by begging or telling fortunes. As modern China grew more prosperous and opened to the world, it built special schools for the handicapped and, by ratifying such agreements as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, gave domestic reformers new, albeit limited leverage to press for change. In 2014 China announced that blind students would be allowed to take the national university entrance examination, the fearsome gaokao. This breakthrough followed years of official foot-dragging. In 2015 almost 9.5m candidates took the exam. Just eight students took a special version in Braille or large print. No official count of blind school-pupils exists in China. But if the proportion of American youngsters with legally registered visual handicaps is taken as a guide, as many as 80,000 of those taking the gaokao each year should be blind.
几乎可以肯定,现在是中国历史上盲人最幸福的时候。过去他们的境况往往非常凄凉。中国文学中有大量盲人靠乞讨或算命糊口的故事。日益繁荣和开放的现代中国为残疾人建立了特殊学校,并通过签署联合国《残疾人权利公约》等协议,为国内的改革者提供了新的、尽管也受到限制的推动变革的手段。2014年,中国宣布允许盲人学生参加高校招生全国统一考试,也就是可怕的高考。这一突破是官方拖延了多年之后实现的。2015年,全国近950万考生参加了高考,其中使用布拉耶盲文或大字号特殊试卷的视障生只有八名。中国没有官方的盲校学童人数统计。但是,如果参考正式注册在案的美国视障年轻人的比例,那么每年参加高考的学生中按理说应该有多达八万名视障生。
Alas, this also remains a frustrating moment to be blind and Chinese. Of 10.7m students who sat the gaokao this summer, just five took the Braille papers for the blind. Since 2015 candidate numbers have never exceeded ten in a single year, leading some Chinese to grumble about “wasting national resources” on the Braille gaokao, says Mr Cai. That ignores other hurdles still to be dismantled, he argues, noting that only about 30 Chinese universities admit blind students, and that even some of those fail to offer accessible tests and textbooks on a systematic basis. Other universities exclude the blind with medical tests and other gambits. Education officials do see a need to look after the disabled, he says. The problem is low expectations, and an attitude towards the blind and others that “what we give you is what’s best for you”. Doctors play a role in making families timid, too, says Mr Cai, who lost his sight at ten. Once they decide a progressive disability cannot be cured, they too often abandon hope and counsel risk-avoidance.
可惜,对于中国的视障人士来说,眼下仍旧是个令人沮丧的时刻。今年夏天,1070万名学生参加高考,只有五人领取了盲文试卷。自2015年以来,每年的视障考生人数从未超过十名,这导致一些中国人抱怨盲文试卷是“浪费国家资源”,蔡聪说。他认为这忽视了其他仍需消除的障碍,并指出只有约30所中国大学录取视障学生,但即使是这些大学也有一些尚未能系统性地提供无障碍考试和教科书。其他大学则通过体检和其他招数将视障生拒之门外。他说,教育部门官员确实认为需要照顾残疾人。问题是人们的期望值低,对视障人士和其他残障人士的态度也是“我们给你的就是最适合你的”。医生也是导致父母们胆怯保守的一个原因,十岁失明的蔡聪说。一旦医生认为某种进行性残疾无法治愈,他们常常会放弃希望并建议规避风险。
Nonetheless a handful of blind students manage to stay in the mainstream school system and achieve gaokao scores that entitle them to apply for elite colleges, a feat that reflects luck, talent but also years of grinding toil. One such student, Ang Ziyu, a serious youth from the inland city of Hefei, attended the Shanghai training course. He must wait until late August to learn if his score of 635 is enough to enter Beijing Normal University, a teacher-training school. He expects no special allowance to be made for years of having schoolwork read to him by his parents, or the trickiness of taking the gaokao in Braille, a tactile form of printing that is ill-suited to transliterating Chinese characters. Mr Ang currently leans towards teaching at a blind school after graduation. But he has heard that attending college often leaves students eager to explore new possibilities. “I feel like that, too,” he says shyly.
尽管如此,仍有少数视障生留在了主流教育系统中,并在高考中取得了足以申请名牌大学的分数。取得这样了不起的成绩既有赖运气、才华,也靠多年的艰辛努力。参加了此次培训的昂子喻来自内陆城市合肥,个性稳重。他要等到8月下旬才能知道自己635分的成绩够不够上北京师范大学。他不指望因为父母多年给他念课本,或者用盲文考卷参加高考有多难(因为盲文这种靠触感的印刷文字不大适合转化汉字)就能得到特殊待遇。昂子喻目前希望毕业后能在盲校任教。但他听说大家在上大学后往往会渴望探索新的可能性。 “我觉得这也挺好。”他害羞地说。
The soft bigotry of low expectations
低期望带来的轻度偏执
Each year a few hundred blind students take simplified admissions tests set by special disabled colleges or sections of ordinary universities. That is the path taken by Zhang Shuxun and Huang Kan, two teenage girls from the southern province of Guangdong. Speaking at the Shanghai training camp, they volunteer that the education they received at high schools for the blind was “vastly different” from that of a normal senior school. Ms Zhang plans to be a music teacher. Already her father has offered to buy her a flat so she need not worry about earning a living—an offer not open to her two younger brothers. Indeed, her mother was reluctant even to let her attend the course in Shanghai, thinking it risky.
每年有几百名盲人考生参加特殊教育学院或普通大学的特殊教育学院系的简化入学考试。来自广东的两名少女张舒勋和黄侃走的就是这条路。她们在参加上海培训营时发言说,她们在盲人高中接受的教育与普通高中“有很大的不同”。张舒勋计划做一名音乐老师。她的父亲已经表示要给她买一套公寓,这样她就不必担心生计了——她的两个弟弟都没有这个待遇。事实上,她的母亲因为担心她的安全,连上海的培训都不大愿意让她来参加。
Ms Huang’s parents would not let her attend an ordinary high school. “They worried I would get in danger or impair my vision further,” she says, conceding: “A lot of us have lived a very closed-off life since we were young.” She credits the internet and screen-reading software with connecting her to the world. She hopes to become a psychotherapist, and to help other Chinese know that the blind are as capable as others. “I have a lot of dreams,” she says. Unexpectedly, the thought brings on tears, but she wants no sympathy, instead apologising for her loss of control. These stubborn, impressive students know what they need: equal chances to show what they can do. Pity is of no use to them.
黄侃的父母不让她去上普通高中。“他们担心我会碰到危险,或者进一步损伤视力。”她承认,“我们中许多人从小就过着与外界隔离的生活。”她认为是互联网和屏幕阅读软件把她与世界连结了起来。她希望成为一名心理治疗师,还想让其他中国人知道盲人和其他人一样有能力。“我有很多梦想。”说完她不禁湿了眼眶。但她不想别人同情她,倒为自己“失态”而抱歉。这些固执、令人印象深刻的学生知道自己需要什么,那就是展示自己才能的平等机会。怜悯对他们没有用处。