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MOHRSS improves assistance and support aids for visually-impaired examinees by Jin Ling, July 13, 2017 Adjust font size:

Social workers help people to help themselves. Determined to improve their professional knowledge and give themselves opportunities to explore a new career path, in March this year 7 visually-impaired staff from Beijing Sound Wave Disabled Persons’ Social Service Center applied to sit the national social work license exam. With assistance and support aids provided by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the People's Republic of China (MOHRSS), they completed the exam on June 18 in Beijing.

Of the 7 examinees, 3 were totally blind and 4 were partially sighted. They requested aids such as Braille or electronic papers for the totally blind, large print papers for the partially sighted, authorization for magnifying equipment, and white canes, permission for guide dogs to enter the examination room, and an extended time allowance.

A visually-impaired examinee with his guide dog and support volunteer

As it was the first time that MOHRSS had organized exams for the visually-impaired, they were not able to approve the applications for extended time, Braille and electronic papers. But they provided each totally blind examinee with a separate examination room and 4 staff for assistance—2 to take turns reading the exam papers, 1 to write down answers, and 1 to monitor—thus ensuring both openness and efficiency.

Yang Qingfeng is totally blind; he worried that he would not be able to complete the exam on time: “It took me nearly 25 minutes to answer 10 questions when doing mocks with colleagues, but the volunteers read very fast and both of them had backgrounds in social work. They did not make any mistakes in terminology, which is very important in ensuring that listeners do not fall victim to any misunderstanding.”

Thanks to the help of his support staff, Yang completed all the exams on time. While he was very grateful to them all, he still thinks that providing Braille or electronic papers would be ideal: “Although the volunteers were happy to read for me, I would feel more independent and comfortable if I were able to read Braille or listen to an electronic paper.”

It was the first time that partially-sighted Jiang Jiaping had been given access to large-print examination papers, which made reading much easier for him. But when seeing the palm-sized answer sheet, Jiang felt a sudden letdown: “Just imagine the answer options for 120 questions squeezed onto this sheet—how small and close they were! Even worse, they were in light green, making it more difficult for me to mark my intended answers.”

Jiang and another partially-sighted examinee, Bai, were not able to complete the morning or afternoon examinations in the allotted time, due to the problem with the answer sheets. They hope that high-contrast, and if possible larger answer sheets can be provided in the future.

MOHRSS paid particular attention to this exam. The Director of the Examination Center in MOHRSS paid a special visit to Sound Wave Centre two days afterwards. He learned how visually-impaired people work, thoroughly assessed their difficulties in online application, and listened carefully to their suggestions. MOHRSS wants to make this exam a pilot that can serve the blind to access all its exams in the future.

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