Sat, Jun 15, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Student excels despite having visual handicap

By Su Meng-chuan and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Visually challenged high-school student Tsai Yu-chen takes notes in class in Taichung on June 3.

Photo: Su Meng-chuan, Taipei Times

A high-school student in Taichung has achieved success in her studies, despite the challenges posed by her difficulty seeing.

Taichung Municipal Home Economics and Commercial High School student Tsai Yu-chen (蔡雨辰) has nystagmus — a condition that causes the eyes to make uncontrolled movements — affecting her depth perception and ability to focus.

With a visual acuity of only 0.1 on the decimal chart, Tsai often relies almost entirely on hearing to follow along in lectures and physical education classes.

However, despite the difficulties, she has refused special treatment.

Her perseverance has paid off, as Tsai has participated in cheerleading competitions and is at the top of her business management class.

Her academic performance has gained her admission to the National Taipei University of Business.

“A handicap does not need to be a hindrance. Your weaknesses can become your strengths,” she said on Monday last week.

Tsai, who was also born with albinism, approaches life with a positive attitude.

In her studies, she is highly self-motivated and looks for resources to help her cover course material, such as a video magnifier to help her read the blackboard from any seat in the classroom.

However, her visual limitations mean that she cannot read for long periods of time and cannot read quickly, so she trained herself from a young age to learn 80 percent of lecture material through careful listening to avoid having to rely so heavily on reading.

Tsai said that when she began taking accounting classes, she would fill out accounting forms incorrectly, as she could not focus properly on individual rows and cells.

She later realized that she could overcome this by using a ruler to line up the rows.

She realizes that her conditions and her appearance make her stand out, but she refuses to be labeled or treated differently, she said.

Cheerleading presented a different challenge, as Tsai could not clearly see the changes, but she found that she could stay in sync with her squad by taking cues from the music and by clapping to the rhythm.

When preparing for exams, Tsai limits the scope of her review material to reduce the strain on her eyes and focuses heavily on past exam questions — a strategy that has been successful, as she is one of the best performers in her class.

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