The time was 8:00 pm on September 6, when the Paralympic opening ceremony had just begun; the place was a 30-square-meter room in a quadrangle at Drum Tower Street West. Some 40 blind people were sitting in front of a television set, and three volunteers were taking turns interpreting what was televised alive to this special audience.
This gathering was the brainchild of Wang Weili, founder of the Beijing Hongdandan Cultural Exchange Center, a non-profit organization providing barrier-free information to the disabled, the visually impaired in particular.
He has been running such television-“watching” sessions every day since the opening day of the Beijing Olympics. “To engage the visually impaired friends in the great event and keep them posted about it, I make a point of explaining the games of the day to them, no matter how small the audience is,” Dawei told this reporter. “In fact, they are as interested in all the major sports as you and me, such as diving and swimming, volleyball and basketball.”
Before the Olympics turned it into a television room, this place was a movie center. Since it was opened July 2005, people with visual disabilities have frequented it during weekends, and took in one movie after another through the seeing eyes of Dawei and his friends.