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China Health & Science

Rejected for Being Blind: Shaanxi Normal University Denies Female Student Braille Entrance Exam

No exam, no entrance – this student ran into a brick wall at the famous Chinese university.

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The story of a young blind woman whose application for a Chinese university’s entrance exams was rejected due to her visual disability has sparked discussion across Chinese social media.

Last week, Shaanxi Normal University made headlines in China for rejecting a blind student from their psychology Masters program.

Debates arose online about how universities should accommodate disabled students. The related hashtag (#盲人女孩报考陕西师大研究生遭拒#) received 41 million clicks and about 2,600 related posts on social media platform Weibo.

According to Chinese news site The Paper, the female student named Wu Xiao (吴潇) was turned down after she tried to apply for Shaanxi Normal University’s postgraduate entrance exam. The university reportedly claimed they were not equipped to teach students with visual impairments.

In an interview, the 24-year-old Wu Xiao said that, despite encountering obstacles, she had managed to study with non-blind students for the past four years already. As a fourth-year student of applied psychology at the Nanjing Normal University of Special Education, all she needed was a chance to take the entrance exam, but this request was denied. The university allegedly stated they could not provide a Braille version of the exam.

Wu Xiao said she was perplexed about the rejection, especially since Shaanxi Normal University previously organized a college tour for students with physical disabilities.

Shaanxi Normal University, located in Xi’an, is a well-known university under the direct administration of the Ministry of Education of China.

In the news report shared by Lifeweek, a staff member at Shaanxi Normal University explained the situation, saying that psychologists need to be able to see their patients in order to treat them. Students with vision loss should therefore aim for another career, the man said.

The university cited guidelines from 2003 issued by the Ministry of Education and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation. These guidelines allow for a physical examination to affect the chances of studying a certain subject.

According to article 3.6 of the guidelines, students with visual impairments are “unsuitable” to study psychology. Among other things, the guidelines also state that universities can reject students from studying journalism if they have a stammer or hunchback.

On Weibo, one of the main issues discussed was whether or not Wu Xiao was right in speaking out against the university.

Some Weibo users defended the university’s decision, arguing that nonverbal, visual communication plays a vital role in the field of psychology. There were also those saying that Wu could not demand the school to adapt to her needs.

But there are also many social media users advocating equal opportunities and equal access for persons with disabilities. “A lot of people are acting as if she’s asking for special treatment…but she hasn’t even been able to get equal access to education,” one person commented, “It’s not her fault she can’t go to this school – it is the fault of backward universities and society.”

Over the past few years, stories of Chinese blind people encountering ignorance and accessibility issues have been receiving more attention on social media.

Earlier this year, a video showing the failed design of a tactile-paved path in Inner Mongolia caught the attention of web users. The tactile paving steered blind and visually impaired pedestrians straight into trees on the sidewalk. Local authorities later fixed the paths.

Another video posted on Douyin (the Chinese version of Tiktok) in August of this year also attracted a lot of attention, receiving over 150,000 likes. The video, posted by a visually impaired blogger (@盲探-小龙蛋), showed the difficulties encountered by Chinese people with blindness or low vision when using public transportation. In Shenzhen, where the blogger lives, most buses do not have speakers announcing their direction, making it impossible for him to know which bus to take. Shenzhen has to do better if it wants to call itself a “city without hindrances” (“无障碍城市”), he argued.

Over recent years, the Chinese government has done more to strengthen the protection of rights and interests of persons with disabilities in the country. Although there is a focus on the prevention of birth defects and disability – even launching a “National Disability Prevention Day” – there seems to be a lesser focus on transforming China’s social organizations to actually help those with disabilities.

Children with visual impairments often attend specialized schools isolated from the rest of society. Only since 2015 have blind students been able to take the university entrance exam (gaokao) in Braille. According to Toutiao News, Wu Xiao was the only student in Shaanxi to take the Braille version of the gaokao.

To promote more inclusivity for disabled citizens in the workforce, China has an employment quota system in which companies must reserve at least 1.5 percent of their positions for disabled persons, yet many companies do not meet the quota.

On Weibo, some commenters argue that people such as Wu Xiao will continue to face discrimination in society unless something changes in the education system.  “We can only build a fair society if our education is fair,” one person writes: “Caring for the disadvantaged and giving them equal opportunities is a measure of a civilized society. We have to care for them and help them fulfill their dreams.”

By Saga Ringmar ( follow on Twitter

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©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Saga Ringmar is a researcher for Kinapodden, the Swedish public radio’s podcast about China. She covers digital culture and social media trends. Previously, Saga worked for City Weekend Magazine and Time Out Magazine in Beijing. She is interested in China's changing media landscape and the tensions between internet culture and politics.

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China Health & Science

China’s COVID-19 Vaccine Freebies: Get One Vaccine, Get Milk & Eggs for Free!

“Do I get free transport and a freebie with that vaccine?”

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While American vaccine incentives – where some counties would offer a free beer and fries to encourage more Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine – made international headlines, Chinese vaccine incentives have also been attracting the attention on Weibo and beyond.

Forget about free beer and fries. How about getting free milk, eggs, toilet paper, laundry detergent, or sesame oil after getting your shot? In China, and especially in Shanghai, some local vaccine sites have been offering all kinds of noteworthy freebies to encourage citizens to come and get their shots.

Since March and April of this year, netizens are sharing photos of COVID-19 vaccine posters online, such as this one, where you get a carton of milk after getting vaccinated:

Or these, where you get free vegetable oil or sesame oil:

Or how about two boxes of eggs?

One local initiative even offered free toilet paper earlier this year:

Another place in Shanghai offered bags of rice for free with your shot:

And others offered free pick-up services to those getting vaccinated:

Here you see people leaving with their milk cartons (and vaccinated!):

The freebies were meant to encourage more people to get their shots. But because of recent new COVID-19 cases in places like Anhui and Liaoning, more people are now in a rush to get vaccinated. Viral videos and posts on social media showed long queues at vaccine sites.

Popular WeChat account Xinwenge (新闻哥) reported a rapid shift in attitudes among young people towards getting the vaccine, from “do I get free transport and a freebie with that vaccine?” to “I’ll stand in line and do anything as long as I can get vaccinated.”

“Confirmed local cases will motivate people more [to get the vaccine] than eggs and milk,” one blogger from Guangdong wrote on Weibo.

Despite the surge of people going out to get their vaccine, some places still offer vaccine freebies. On social media, people are sharing the photos of their ‘vaccine souvenirs’; plastic bags with milk and cookies.

One Weibo user writes: “I was never so enthusiastic about getting my shot, until I heard they offered free milk and laundry detergent.”

Another Weibo user also shows off their ‘vaccine present’, getting free milk, soap, and rice with their COVID-19 vaccine: “And I didn’t even have to stand in line!”

By Manya Koetse & Miranda Barnes

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Health & Science

Chinese Doctor Knocks Herself Out in Controversial Self-Experiment

Dr. Chen wanted to warn about the dangers of sevoflurane and other drugs.

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A female doctor has become a topic of discussion on Chinese social media for her self-experimentation with anesthesia.

Dr. Chen (陈大夫), a Nanjing doctor who works in the Obstetrics and Gynecology department, conducted the experiment in response to an ongoing discussion on whether or not a handkerchief dipped in inhalation anesthetics could cause immediate unconsciousness (“一捂就晕”).

The discussion was triggered by news of the death of a 23-year-old woman from Foshan, Guangdong Province, on February 8. The recent college graduate was found in a hotel room and it was later ruled that the cause of death was acute respiratory failure due to sevoflurane toxicity. The victim’s company supervisor, a 39-year-old man named Peng, is now suspected of fatally sedating and raping the young woman.

The case led to speculation among netizens whether or not sevoflurane could have knocked out the woman in seconds. There have been ongoing debates on the effects of general anesthetics used to sedate unsuspected victims, with some specialists arguing that it is not so easy to make someone slip into unconsciousness within a matter of seconds – saying it would take much longer than and only if an unusually high dosage is used.

Dr. Chen posted on February 10 that she was certain that it is possible for certain inhalation anesthetics to immediately make someone pass out, but her claim was refuted by others. The popular Weibo blogger Jiangning Popo (@江宁婆婆), a police officer, was one of the persons involved in the discussion claiming Chen was wrong.

Dr. Chen is active on Weibo under the handle @妇产科的陈大夫, and with over two million followers on her account, she is somewhat of a ‘celebrity’ doctor.

Instead of spending time arguing back and forth on the internet, Dr. Chen decided to put the issue to the test herself with an unopened bottle of sevoflurane that she had previously purchased for the planned sterilization of her dog. The sevoflurane had already passed its expiry date.

On February 16, Dr. Chen then asked someone else to film her doing the self-experiment and she posted the video on Weibo, in which she inhaled sevoflurane on a cloth. The doctor soon passed out in the video, which has since been deleted.

The experiment in the video lasts 64 seconds, and shows Chen:

– 00:01-00:06 Opening the bottle of sevoflurane
– 00:07-00:12 Preparing a cloth
– 00:13-00:23 Putting the sevoflurane on the cloth
– 00:23-00:26 Closing the cap of the bottle
– 00:27-00:28 Putting the cloth on her mouth and nose
– 00:29-01:33 = the time frame of losing consciousness (with first symptoms starting at 0:44) to going limp and falling on the floor (1:20) and being completely unconscious (1:21-1:33).

Dr. Chen’s experiment immediately sparked controversy after she posted the video on social media.

Although sevoflurane is a prescription drug and a controlled substance, it is also sold online as a type of drug. According to The Paper, the number of rape cases in China facilitated by drugs have risen over the past three years, with many ‘date rape drugs’ being sold and bought over the internet.

With sevoflurane being a controlled substance, Dr. Chen’s video triggered discussions on whether or not she was actually involving in a criminal act by doing the self-experiment. She also received criticism from within the medical community that she used this medication outside of the hospital environment.

Dr. Chen soon deleted the video herself and then called the police to personally explain and apologize for the incident, with the news soon going viral (#女医生拿自己做实验后报警并致歉#, 270 million views).

But despite the controversy, the doctor still defends her actions to some extend. Although Chen stated on February 17 that her self-experiment was “not right,” dangerous, and should never be imitated by anyone, she later also explained on her Weibo page that she thinks sevoflurane as a prescription drug is too easy to get your hands on and that the existing laws to prevent people from buying it are too weak.

The doctor has succeeded in raising public awareness on the dangers of these kinds of drugs. She also reminds both women and men never to leave their drink unattended, as the dangers of someone slipping something in your drink are real and the consequences can be grave.

As the incident has gone trending on Chinese social media, many commenters praise Dr. Chen for her experiment, while others also praise her for being transparent and admitting her mistakes.

 
By Manya Koetse
with contributions by Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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