Thursday, July 27, 2006

A visually impaired woman finds a job as a piano tuner

Hsiang Chi is a visually impaired person who works as a piano tuner in a job that she secured through the Council of Labor Affairs' Multi-Employment Promotion Program. This job has enabled her to use her sense of hearing to find a new life. Hsiang was born blind. From the time she was young, her biggest wish was to become a musician. When she was young, she learned how to play piano. In addition, she studied in the department of music when in university.

After graduation, she performed in a band. However, life was hard for her. There were some months in which she earned only NT$6,000 or NT$7,000. It was only when she found the possibility of becoming a piano tuner, which would make the best use of her keen sense of hearing, did Hsiang Chi successfully find a new path in life. The Council of Labor Affairs introduced its Multi-Employment Promotion Program in 2002. Since the unveiling of the plan, it has helped find 72,000 employment opportunities for people throughout Taiwan.

A Council of Labor Affairs official said that the employment program aims to provide an avenue to tide over those who are unemployed while they learn new skills. Upon the completion of training, these people will them return to the workforce. This year, for example, private groups can submit applications throughout the entire year, while government agencies must submit plans before the end of April. In May and September, the Council screens the applications.

Those agencies or groups that put in an outstanding performance until the Multi-Employment Promotion Program also receive awards from the Council to cite their excellence. The Parents' Association for the Visually Impaired, which was established by parents of visually handicapped children, decided to best utilize the advantage that the visually impaired have in terms of their sense of hearing to successfully train a number of piano tuners.

This project has resulted in a number of employment opportunities for the visually impaired. The project has been so successful that the Parents' Association for the Visually Impaired was singled out by the Council of Labor Affairs for its excellence in the piano tuner training program. The chairman of the Parents' Association for the Visually Impaired, Wang Ching-wen, said that the association originally developed a plan to compile and edit books in brail for the blind. The association aimed to transfer a wide range of reference and text books into brail.

However, given the huge number of books to be transferred into brail, there was too much editing work to be done. As a result, the association began considering other professions that would be suited for the visually impaired. After carefully looking at various possibilities, the association discovered that the serving as piano tuners is a key profession for the visually impaired overseas. The association added that they on Taiwan, too many blind people relied on working as masseurs. The association therefore decided to arrange for visually impaired persons here to undergo training to become piano tuners.

Presently, three people have been trained in the profession by the association and have found employment through the Multi-Employment Promotion Program. These visually impaired piano tuners use their outstanding sense of hearing to adjust the pitch of pianos. The result has been that the adjustments that they carry out make the sound of pianos even more beautiful than that of mechanical tuners. Presently, there are four visually impaired persons on Taiwan who have received professional licenses as piano tuners, while there are six or seven visually impaired persons who have not received licenses, but work as piano tuners.

Hsiang, who is 28 years old, worked as a musician in a band after she graduated from university. The work was not steady, however, and her monthly income oftentimes was a reflection of luck. If the weather was bad outside, the number of gigs that the band would have would fall substantially. Hsiang was always on a tight budget, as her income was sparse. Since becoming a piano tuner, however, she now has a steady income and she often has a smile on her face. "I no longer have to rely on luck, since I am now a piano tuner," she said.


Post a Comment

<< Home