KUALA LUMPUR: Intense darkness, not even a tinge of light to act as a guide, only bare hands to sweep the inky, sorrowful air as a means of finding a way.
This darkness embodies the chilling reality of the struggle faced by the visually impaired with the rich imaginings of establishing awareness.
Stevens Chan Kum Fai, founded Dialogue in the Dark Malaysia (DID) in the year 2012, as a way of illuminating the conundrum of the visually impaired to the sighted community.
DID simulates everyday activities in the dark, which provokes the audience into having enlightening experiences and profound gratitude for their sight.
The tours are conducted by visually impaired individuals.
Chan was diagnosed with glaucoma, an eye condition, in the year 2002, he started losing his eyesight gradually and by 2007 he had lost it completely.
“The trouble with glaucoma is that it is silent. It has no cure and it affects everybody from babies to adults,” he said softly.
“It was a big surprise to me because I had 20/20 vision until the age of 40 when I experienced such pain that I could not even lift my head. Next thing I know, the doctors say I have glaucoma and to me, it was a strange word.”
Chan fondly mentions his wife and says that their loving bond has only been strengthened through this ordeal.
“She did not know how to comfort me. She knows that I am a very egoistic person so she silently stood by me, even when I threw tantrums,” he added with a laugh.
He then began to wax lyrical about Lashawn, his seven-year-old guide dog who has grown to be his best friend, even though Chan’s initial fear of dogs proved to be a hindrance.
Chan got Lashawn from China when he was just two years old after completing his guide dog training.
“We change as we move along. He’s very obedient, of course at times he will be in his naughty mood, but when they get comfortable, they become a part of your family,” he said, his voice laced with pride.
DID is authentic, gritty and brings forth an entirely wholesome perspective toward the visually impaired community.
When asked about the reason for the empowering activities undertaken by DID Chan says, “I want to give them dignity.”