Seeing life in a new way

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 December, 2011, 12:00am


Blindness is never an obstacle to Henry Tang Ping-yip. 'It allows me to see, not with my eyes, but my conscience,' says the 37-year-old who was diagnosed with congenital blindness as a child.

Tang (pictured) first realised he was blind at the age of five, when he was unable to find things as easily as other children at school. He was often discriminated against by his own relatives who found it awkward when his parents took him out. But his parents supported him and taught him to see his own worth. They told him they were proud of him.

Some parents who have children with disabilities might be overprotective and try to do everything for them, but not Tang's.

'I'm lucky that my parents aren't like that. They knew the only way for me to learn and grow is to let me make mistakes,' he says.

Tang thinks people may not know how to deal with people with visual impairment.

'Once, when I was walking down the street, a stranger abruptly pulled at my shirt. He was trying to lead me across the road. He used such strength to drag me that it was really painful and I had to ask him to let go,' he says.

That was just one example. His experiences have made him realise that there is often a lack of understanding about people with disabilities that can lead to prejudice.

'I need empathy from people, not them feeling sorry for me,' he says.

With that in mind, he joined Dialogue in the Dark (DiD) in 2009. DiD is a social enterprise from Germany that aims to bridge the gap between people with disabilities and the rest of society.

Henry speaks fluent Cantonese, English and Putonghua, which allows him to take on more responsibilities. As an executive workshop co-ordinator, he is involved in public education events such as promoting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The initiative is led by the government's Labour and Welfare Bureau and DiD with the support of Da Vinci Education, a corporation that empowers youth through experiential learning.

Tang is passionate about helping the disadvantaged, who are often seen as a burden on society, to discover their potential in life. He also spends time helping poor people and orphans on the mainland.

'I am blessed to have people supporting me like angels throughout my life. Now it is my turn to help people who are lost and in need and help them realise their abilities.'

He thinks today's teenagers often lack goals. He suggests that they should learn more about themselves and others.

'We all have strengths and weaknesses. The key is to make use of our talents to make the world a better place, rather than focusing on our flaws and living a cynical life.'

Tang believes he can gain insight without sight.

'In the dark, you have a clearer picture of the abilities of yourself, and of others, which you do not notice with your eyes open.'

To learn more about people with disabilities, visit