Monday, November 27, 2006 – Hong Kong, China


Hi guys!  I'm taking advantage of some time before dinner, Sandra and I and about 550 other O&Mers from 31 countries are at the International Mobility Conference (IMC) in Hong Kong and it's has been very interesting so far.  I was moved this morning when representatives from the countries that had hosted the previous conferences came down the aisle carrying their flag to the sound of excerpts of anthems or songs from their country, beautifully played (the song from Israel was haunting and soft).  This is the 12th conference, they've been held in Australia, South Africa, Norway, Great Britain, the U.S. and 6 other countries but I think this is the first one in an Asian country.  In three years the conference will be held again in Germany to commemorate 30 years of IMC's (the very first one was held in Germany).


Our presentation is the day after tomorrow, and we had some adventures in the presenter planning room, working on our powerpoint (finding a computer that wasn't set for Chinese!) and trying to cut it down to 20 minutes.  I'm going to ask Stephan to put our title and the 7 principles in Chinese for the powerpoint, we'll see if that will work (the presentation is at


Tuesday, November 28, 2006 – Hong Kong, China


Wow, I thought these conference days would have nothing of interest to share but no!  Before I get into it, I have to tell you I love Hong Kong, at least the parts I see here.  This evening I went out of the hotel for the first time and in spite of the fact that I had disdained Hong Kong because it is so Westernized and not "real China," it's MY kind of place!  I guess I'm a city girl, and Hong Kong is a modern city with lots of glitz including a live billboard on the building across the street but it seems tasteful somehow, very clean and bright, lots of decorative lights (well, okay, so some of them are Christmas lights but I've never seen it done more tastefully!  A pavilion of gauze and white lights in one of the malls with a Christmas tree inside, beautiful white angels at the corners).


And it seems very pedestrian-friendly and accessible, with "braille trails" imbedded along the floors of the malls to help blind folks find the elevators and stairs.  A lot of the streets (at least in the areas I walked with Stephan tonight) are blocked off, there are tunnels for people to get across other streets and covered bridges connecting buildings above ground, and all the streets we crossed were only two narrow lanes wide.  Makes me feel like I'm some kind of futuristic fantasy land.


We went to a vegetarian restaurant, we were the only foreigners there and the place was PACKED!  We asked the owner to help us order something "Hong Kong" food-wise and he suggested the dinner for two -- again, like last night, they kept bringing us little dishes of delicious food, it was 7 courses many of which I had never had before (a "ham" made of some kind of mushroom, and a bowl of sweet bean soup for dessert).  We planned to go back tomorrow, but Stephan just came back from exploring and said he found two more vegetarian restaurants nearby!  Very different from Japan, we're going to have a real problem there.


Okay, now for the conference adventure.  As a background, there are a couple dozen people from Hong Kong here and they speak English well, and about 30-40 people here from mainland China, and most of them speak little English [LATER: correction – there are 120 people from China registered for the conference and 90 from Hong Kong, though I don’t know if all of them showed up].  Presenters from Hong Kong speak English and the mainland Chinese wear headphones to hear the translation, but presenters from the mainland speak Chinese, and it is we who need the headphones.


Meanwhile, I've been working with two other O&M specialists, Sandra Rosen and Eileen Siffermann, to prepare our presentation and powerpoint (an outline or important points that people can read on a screen during the presentation).  I thought it would be cool for our mainland China colleagues if Stephan would make the main points on our powerpoint in Chinese as well as English, and this morning, while listening to a presentation whose powerpoint was all in Chinese and I was wishing that I could understand at least some of it, I became all the more convinced that it would be great to have part of our powerpoint in Chinese so our colleagues could understand at least some of it.


Stephan agreed to do it, so we went up to the Presenters’ Room, which was manned by volunteer workers from Hong Kong.  When we explained what we wanted to do, they seemed somewhat in awe and appreciative of our efforts, and enthusiastically agreed to proofread Stephan’s work.  And what a FASCINATING process that was!  Stephan kept asking exactly what we meant so he could get the essence and meaning of it, rather than a word-for-word translation.  "Functional instruction" became "teaching practical" and "find resources" became "search for / arrive at resources" (rather than "find" as in "find a dollar on the sidewalk").


Soon the workers became involved and at one point there were 4 of them behind Stephan discussing what we intended and what would convey it best.  It was extremely enlightening to me to realize how our common English phrases, which seem so clear to me, are so easily misinterpreted and have no meaning if interpreted literally.  For example they thought that our phrase "Have high expectations for success" meant that the percentage rate of our students who are successful should be high, when we actually meant that the instructor should consider that the student will be able to do a lot.  When we came to "best practice" I had to explain that it isn't really "practice" and it isn't  really "best," it means that it's the way that people in the field agree it should be done -- I forget the phrase they came up with but it captured it beautifully.  One of the workers, Lynda Chung [photo], hung in with us for more than an hour.  She is quite a remarkable woman, very sensitive and insightful, and I hope we remain in contact with her after we leave.  And I was very touched and moved that people would care that much to get our presentation right, and it also gave me a deeper understanding of our presentation and how it should be conveyed.


LATER:  We didn’t save the powerpoint, but from Stephan’s notes I think this is what was written on the powerpoints – I’ve added a translation of the Chinese:


O&M for People With Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities


Translation: Visual impairments and multiple disabilities people O&M


Multiple disabilities multiply the effect


Translation:  Multiple disabilities make challenges bigger


When working with students with multiple disabilities, it is necessary to have high expectations for success


Translation:  Expect to reach high goals


Be functional and practical in the assessment and instruction


Translation:  Practical analysis and teaching


Be creative and flexible, and design the program for the individual.


Translation:  Be creative, flexible, and plan for the individual


Encourage participation in the community in whatever manner the student can do.


Translation:  Encourage students to enter society


Find resources and information


Translation:  Find [search for and find] resources and information


Team consultation:  Best practice for students with multiple disabilities

集體商量:  多種殘疾學生的認可模範系統

Translation:  Group consultation:  Multiple disability students’ approved/standard model system


Okay, it's time to hit the hay, I want to finally get enough sleep tonight so I'm fresh for the presentation tomorrow.  By the way, we've decided to stay in the area a few days after the conference, going by train to Guangzhou (was Canton) to see more of the "real" China again, and then come back to fly to Japan on the 4th, as we originally planned (we had signed up for a tour to the school for the blind in Nanjing, China that would finish on December 4, but it was cancelled).


Wednesday, November 29, 2006 – Hong Kong, China

Woah!  Even as late as 6:00 this evening I thought this would be a day when there would be nothing to tell, except to say simply that our presentation was this morning and I thought it went well (and I'm relieved it's over!), and that I lost my purse with camera and credit card and EVERYTHING and it was turned in by the wonderful staff here and nothing was missing (I'll have to tell you about the WONDERFUL luxury hotel we are staying, the people and everything are fabulous!), and that we took a very interesting tour of a train station and a university that has been outfitted with many accommodations for accessibility [photos].


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