Blind since the age of two, and inspired by his own teachers to turn his disability into an asset, Billy Yau Wai-lok is now a teacher himself. Sighted or not, most students face challenges and he guides them with his philosophy that 'everyone can do it' I might have lost my sight, but I have kept my vision, is the motto of Hong Kong's first blind teacher, Billy Yau Wai-lok, 23. Mr Yau, named one of the 'Top Ten Regeneration Warriors' last year, was educated at St Paul's College and graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a degree in education. He has been blind since the age of two, and he has always been a top student. Believing that a good teacher can play a significant role in a student's development, he joined a mainstream secondary school as an English teacher after graduation. Soon he realised that his mere presence was an inspiration to some pupils. He says a student once wrote him an e-mail, saying that upon seeing that his blind teacher could study so well, he felt ashamed that he gave things up so easily. Mr Yau says he has no problem doing what a 'normal' teacher does. While he cannot write on blackboards, he makes use of PowerPoint presentations, YouTube and e-books. Instead of submitting handwritten homework, students send him essays by e-mail. But Mr Yau did not start off aiming to be a teacher. As a child, he was more interested in counselling. After finishing Form One in Ebenezer School, he transferred to St Paul's College, a mainstream boys' school. He considers it a turning point in his life. 'Before, I never felt that blindness was a bad thing. When I was in Ebenezer, I joined Outward Bound and was a scout; there was no problem at all.' But at St Paul's he was not allowed to attend science and physical education classes for safety reasons. Nor could he make many new friends, since he could not join his classmates in soccer or video games. Just when he was feeling lonely and depressed, two teachers came to his aid. They took the time to talk to him, and that was when Mr Yau realised teachers could have a positive impact on students' growth. Things got better when Mr Yau joined the choir in Form Four, singing in competitions and at a flag-raising ceremony in Golden Bauhinia Square. There were doubts whether he could be a good chorister, as he could not see the conductor. 'Everything has an alternative solution,' he says. 'The student next to me would pat me on the shoulder whenever the conductor gave instructions. It was not difficult.' With computers and the internet, Mr Yau says studying is no longer a problem for blind students. 'But many companies are still doubtful of our working ability.' He says one headmaster bluntly told him it was a dream for blind people to teach and that they could not control students in class. 'That was unfair. New teachers who can see may also be unable to control the class, but people only attribute it to the fact that they are green. 'When students know that you are teaching with your heart, they will not rebel.' He says a student once accidentally dropped his Braille display unit and spilled all the pins inside. Although it was lunchtime, the whole class stayed behind to pick up the pins. Students crowded around, worriedly asking if he could still teach. 'I felt very warm because they were really concerned about me. They did not do it because they were afraid to pay for a new display unit.' His teaching philosophy is that 'everyone can do it', just as he overcame his disability to become a teacher. He says most students simply lack the confidence to use English and could improve if encouraged. 'Most teachers are university graduates who were good students themselves. Few people doubted their abilities. Not many people have my life experience. I can make use of that to encourage my students.' Mr Yau says people's mindsets 'still have room for improvement', as most employers are still reluctant to hire disabled applicants. He hopes the next generation will realise that the disabled can achieve many things in life. 'Alternative solutions always exist. The disabled are not unable.'