After completing four years of study, Chang Chien, the only blind student currently studying at Taipei Municipal University of Education (TMUE) — a university specially for training future teachers — says that the school lacks an effective digital system and the educational resources necessary for blind students. He says that this has kept him from being able to sign up for classes like everyone else, and from being able to meet the basic requirements of the school’s Center for Teacher Education. Whenever he has sought assistance from the school, they simply tell him he should be content with his lot and stop complaining. In an attempt to get an equal education and not simply earn a degree out of pity, Chang finally felt it necessary to send a formal complaint to his local city councilor. The complaint included five major problems he has had with his education.
Taipei City Councilor Wu Su-yao, who received the formal complaint, also criticizes the university because it is supposed to be a school for training future teachers, which means that it should value the education of students with special circumstances. Wu also says that this problem raises concerns about whether the school is actually fit to do the job it claims to be doing — training teachers — and has therefore requested that the school hold a meeting to resolve the issues in the complaint. TMUE will also have to make a list of any needs that physically disabled students have and deal with them more effectively.
Chang says that the Web site for signing up for classes and the digital learning system both lack interfaces for the blind, and that you have to enter an authentication code in order to enter the system, which means that blind students cannot use it and must find someone else to help them.
Because of this Chang is not able to select his classes in the normal way that the average student does, and instead has to rely on others or sign up for classes by filling out paper forms. He is also not able to download information about his classes, look up his grades or participate in online discussions. Chang says that his classes, such as topography and climatology, include a lot of charts and graphs, as well as fieldwork outside of class, which for a blind student is just about as difficult as “flying in the sky.” Not only does he not receive the assistance he needs, Chang has been refused on several occasions when he approached teachers before class to get information for class that he could have an outside organization for the visually impaired convert into braille and tactile books.
Chang’s greatest dream of becoming a special education teacher after completing his degree is continually denied to him because of the inequalities in the education system, which keep him from getting the grades he needs to meet the minimal curriculum requirements for becoming a teacher as stipulated by the Ministry of Education, so he is also continually rejected by the Center for Teacher Education. Chang indignantly says, “I don’t want a degree out of pity. I just want a real education.”
The university says that it is holding an Individual Education Program meeting this week for physically disabled students, particularly to deal with resolving the five major problems that have been brought to their attention by Chang, but they say they cannot offer any specifics until a consensus has been reached.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)