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Disabled find more paths to college

China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-21 09:58

Wang He, a blind pianist from the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, is busy preparing for university life in Beijing while his peers await the results from the national college entrance exam.

"My dream finally came true. I still can't believe it," said Wang, 20, who received an offer from the music department at Beijing Union University.

He took required tests in general knowledge and piano in April as part of the school's special education program.

"The school also required me to pass piano tests at both the China Conservatory of Music and the Zhejiang Conservatory of Music. These tests exempted me from taking the national college entrance exam," said Wang, whose eyesight began deteriorating at age 2 after a severe illness.

He said he attributed this opportunity to China's supportive policies for visually impaired students hoping to attend college.

In 2015, the Ministry of Education and the China Disabled Persons' Federation jointly launched Braille versions of the national college exam, and gave disabled students more time to finish the test - with art school candidates given waiver options.

Wang was in high school when he learned about the new test policy, and this inspired him to apply to Ningxia's Special Education High School - his first step toward achieving his dream of attending college. If he had not applied, he says he would likely have gone to a vocational school to learn a skill such as traditional Chinese massage, a common occupation for many blind people in China.

Wang said his world became totally dark at age 10, which made it impossible for him to stay in his public primary school.

His father, Wang Qiwen, discovered his son's interest in music, and hired two teachers - one teaching Braille and the other piano. "I hoped music could light up his world and keep him company," his father said.

At first, his mother Zhang Haiping read the musical notes to him so he could memorize them before practice. Three years later, Wang He learned to read sheet music in Braille by himself.

"He loves playing the piano so much and is truly gifted. He practices at least seven hours a day and passed the Level 10 piano exam in just over three years," his father said.

While playing the piano, Wang He also kept up with his regular school assignments.

In 2014, while enrolled at Ningxia's Special Education High School in Yinchuan, the regional capital, he took part in the China region category of the seventh UK Royal International Music Competition, held in China. He finished in first place.

"It was a surprise for me as I never thought I'd win," Wang He said. "I hope to become a piano teacher after graduation so I can help blind children in Ningxia."



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