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Surfing the Net, in Darkness

Guo Quan sat at his computer and nimbly logged onto the Internet.

Routine Internet surfing? Hardly. Guo is blind, and his Internet surfing was accompanied by text-to-voice software specifically designed to help blind computer-users surf the Internet.

Guo, 28, a masseur in Shuozhou of North China's Shanxi, and his wife Xu Ping who is also visually impaired, run a website (www.dqjy.com) in their spare time.

Generally Xu used a magnifier to take a clear look at the web page and Guo read the contents of the computer-screen with the help of adaptive technology that either prints out the text in Braille or reads the text loudly with a synthesized voice.

The website is designed for people with visual disabilities, providing information concerning health, the job market and news.

Born in Shuozhou, Guo lost his sight at the age of 5, caused by a serious disease.

Guo fell in love with his classmate Xu when studying massage therapy at Changchun University in Changchun of Northeast China's Jilin Province.

In 1999 the two graduated from the university and went to Shenzhen of South China's Guangdong Province to seek job opportunities.

They worked with local massage centres and gained considerable experience.

After getting married in the spring of 2000, the couple returned to Shuozhou and opened a massage clinic.

In the past few years business has been booming at the clinic and Guo has made a lot of friends.

Strongly recommended by his friends, Guo began to use computers in early 2001.

"The Internet was once a world beyond imagination," recalled Guo. "When we started to surf the Net, we felt like we were entering into a whole new world."

Then Guo came up with an idea to open a website particularly for blind people.

Graphic design became the biggest obstacle for Guo and Xu.
"We've thought of every detail of the website day and night. But it's impossible to turn our ideas into reality only by ourselves," recalled Guo.

With the help of Guo's friends, the couple finally opened the website in April.

So far, the family still live on the income of the massage clinic. In addition to taking care of their son, the couple have spent much of their spare time updating the website.

(China Daily Aug 11, 2003)

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