It would be false to state that our society offers the disabled with the same functions to enjoy their rights as others. According to Korea Employment Agency for Persons with Disabilities, only 4 percent of those who took the survey stated that they were very satisfied with their cultural and leisure activities, and 38.5 percent stated that they were slightly dissatisfied.
Han Hye-kyung, an activist in enhancing the rights of the disabled, spoke of her struggles to make the world a better place “not just for me, but for us”.
Han is currently working as the president of the Korea Association of Blind College Students, as a freelance journalist in S. Economy’s, and at an audio discription supplier company named Soundplex.
She held several other positions in the past such as working as a journalist in the Korea Job and Disability Institute and has given numerous lectures about herself and her visual impairment to large audiences. She endeavors to change society through her work.
Han also manages a Facebook page called “With Guide Dog,” which introduces people to places that are accepting to guide dogs.
“Despite it being illegal to reject guide dogs from restaurants or cafes, not everyone is open with guide dogs coming into their business area.” Han said. “I created this Facebook page so that guide dog owners like me wouldn’t have to deal with the feeling of rejection on special days. I still hope that all minorities could be treated as well as other customers when paying the same price for a product. Furthermore, it would be even better if those consumers could be considered and respected according to their specific characteristics.”
She is also working for S. Economy, a magazine for Social and Solidarity Economy.
“In S. Economy, I work as a freelance journalist for a section created for myself, named For the Barrier Free World,” Han stated. “Here, I attempt to uncover the blind spots of society and tell stories about those living different forms of life, though I do end up writing about myself more.”
Han stated that her greatest interest these days is treating the difficulties blind people face when using public transportation.
“While today’s humanity travels to space, today’s visually impaired struggle to get on the bus,” Han said. “There are many reasons: they can’t see the numbers, they don’t know where the door is, and they don’t know where the stop bell is.”
Therefore, she created a team, “Barrier-free Bus," at her university, Ajou University. Her team is currently coming up with solutions to this problem. Though she apologized for not being able to state the details of the solution, she estimates for the prototype to be demonstrated around November.
Han stated that her ultimate life goal is for “everyone” to be happy. She elaborated on how unfair it is for minorities to be deprived of their rights to enjoy society to the fullest.
She added that she hopes for everyone to be respected as individuals, for their identities not to be limited just as “the disabled," and not to be pitied.
“I really like the phrase ‘Not just for me, but for us,'” Han said. “If our society is to be rebuilt for minorities, it will develop into a society which excludes no one. Though I am currently visually impaired, there’s always a possibility that I might not be able to walk or hear starting tomorrow.”
“If our society can establish a foundation to serve these minorities well, anyone will be able to continue with their life despite their disabilities. A single disability should not hinder anyone from living their life to the fullest,” Han concluded.