Ms. Ludy Lee began working with the Taiwan Digital Talking Books Association (TDTB) in 2006 and was appointed Secretary General of that organization in 2007. She has been instrumental in the implementation of DAISY in Taiwan. In her story she also shares stories of several people she has met while at TDTB. Ms. Lee has attended at least two DAISY meetings and has arranged for the translation of articles from DAISY Planet newsletter into Chinese and made available to everyone online. Those of us who have come to know Ludy wish her well in her future endeavours.
My Dream of Helping Others
I was born in 1954. Before reaching the age of 43, I worked very hard for a better life. Although my life was cozy then, somehow I felt empty inside from time to time. I had always had a strong desire to help others since I was young, so in 1997 I made a decision and resigned from the biggest law firm in Taiwan. In order to fulfill my dream of helping others, I started my new career with non-profit organizations and have worked with non-profits since then.
I joined Taiwan Digital Talking Books Association (TDTB) as a project manager in 2006. One year later I was appointed to play a more important role, Secretary General of TDTB. Before joining TDTB, I had worked for two not-for-profit organizations – a home for the elderly (for 1 and a half years) and then for a refuge for women who suffered from domestic violence (for 5 and a half years). I never thought I would one day join an NPO to assist visually impaired people.
Challenges We Faced
The services of TDTB focus on assistive technology for visually impaired people. We promote DAISY to schools for the blind, group of/for people who are blind, and also to individuals. However, I found it was not an easy job to change people's mindset and reading habits. The major difficulty we came across in Taiwan was acquiring mobile DAISY Players. At the early stage of promotion, most DAISY Players had to be imported and were expensive. Most people who were blind could not afford them. The situation however has been improved since China began to develop DAISY players (Bo-Lang, E6) beginning in 2012 and onwards.
Another difficulty in the promotion of DAISY is "content". In 2009, Mr. Ma Ying-jeou, President of Taiwan, was invited to visit TDTB's office. When he realized the significance and powerful function of DAISY, Ma instructed the Ministry of Education to support increasing the number of DAISY books. It was a pity that the project lasted only three years. In 2010, TDTB made the decision to establish an on-line platform of DAISY e-Books of its own. We followed the example of Bookshare.org by transferring e-Books to DAISY format. There are over 2,600 e-Books provided on the TDTB DAISY Platform at the moment. At the time of this writing, there are about 6,000 titles of DAISY books produced in Taiwan.
Stories that Inspired Me
During my years at TDTB, some visually impaired people and their stories moved me very much, and I would like to share a few of those with you.
Mr. Chu was totally blind since he was 3 years old. When he was 46, he registered for a 3-month computer training course at TDTB. Before that he never went to school, nor had he accessed a computer. After completing the training course, he was capable of typing the 26 letters of the alphabet and using one of Chinese input methods.
Mr. Chen is a 26-year-old young man who had begun his studies in the U.S. before he was ten years old. When he was in university in the U.S. he suffered from serious depression due to the academic stress – his family decided to bring him home to Taiwan. Due to his depression Mr. Chen had an accident in which he fell from a building. The fall resulted in him becoming totally blind. Following a TDTB home visit and introduction to a "screen reader", he enrolled in a vocational training course at TDTB. When he completed the course he was offered a job at TDTB for a short period. He then returned to the U.S. and continued his university studies a year later. In February this year (2013) Mr. Chen obtained 3 Bachelor Degrees (Aerospace, Physical, Mathematics).
Ms. Ku is a 31-year-old woman, with a height of only 1.2 meters. She is totally blind and also has kidney disease. She was very shy and seldom went out due to her fear of strangers. A broadcast program inspired her to call us. She visited TDTB with her mother one day. Since then she has experienced a wonderful change in her life. She has so far taken quite a few courses, such as computer, handicrafts, etc.
A Wonderful Experience
I am glad to see the changes these people, our clients, have made because of our services. Hopefully they will be able to help other people who are visually impaired once they grow strong.
Here and now, I would like to thank Dr. Jerry Wang, the Ex-Chairman, Director of the TDTB Board – his full trust allowed things to go smoothly. Although I am no longer with TDTB now, I appreciate the wonderful experiences I had with the organization for the past 7-and-a-half years. It has indeed made my life meaningful.