Once a masseuse, a career path many suffering visual impairment take in China, Dong Lina, 39, has braved all the challenges her life put before her and carved out a new possibility for her life.
Born into a farmer's family in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning province, Dong was diagnosed with congenital amblyopia and went blind at the age of 10. Like many visually impaired children, she finished compulsory education at a school for disabled people and began learning tuina, a type of therapeutic massage. In 2003, she obtained a job at a massage parlor.
Her life back then was following a preset route, but Dong was reluctant to settle.
"Teachers always told me to learn massage well as it was 'the only way out' for me, but still, I was not content, and I wanted more options in life," says Dong.
One day, she found that a public welfare organization in Beijing had a radio host training program for visually impaired youth. Dong, who had been lauded for having a good voice since childhood, realized that this might be her big moment, and she plucked up the courage and made a life-changing phone call.
"The recruitment had already ended at that time, but the head of the organization was moved by my sincerity and was willing to offer me a chance," says Dong.
After her training, Dong was recommended to a workshop at a radio station where she was the only visually impaired person in the class. Her physical handicap forced her to make extra effort in her spare time. Before each class, she needed to transcribe all the handouts into Braille.
"My pronunciation was often not accurate, yet I could not correct it by looking into the mirror. The teacher figured out a way where I would touch his mouth to imitate the way he pronounced," says Dong.
Despite all the difficulties, Dong achieved the top level in her Mandarin proficiency test, indicating that she is qualified to work as a professional anchor.
In 2010, Dong participated in a national recitation contest, in which the organizers were impressed by her passion and encouraged her to study at the Communication University of China.
In 2020, she became the host of a radio program and this year, she returned to the university to pursue a master's degree in radio and television broadcasting. She also works as a part-time teacher in a language institution, sharing her expertise with more people.
China has about 85 million people with disabilities, of which over 17 million suffer from visual impairment.
Over the decades, the country has been striving to support the education, employment and welfare of people with disabilities, enabling people like Dong to expand their career options and pursue a better life quality.
"Life may not be perfect, but we can make up for it with our own efforts and the support of society," says Dong. "As more and more attention is paid to people with disabilities, I hope more of them can realize their dreams and create their own bright future."