April 2018 / Issue 6
Street artists struggle to brighten up Hong Kong legally
In This Issue 04 After Pyeongchang 2018 Hong Kong lacks facilities and support for emerging winter sport
12 ElsaGate: Invisible trap for children Violent cartoons roam free on the internet
Young athletes meet
Street artists struggle to brighten up Hong Kong legally
Diocesan Schools defend their crowns for inter-school athletics meet
20 Girl Power Women push for more gender equality in sports
24 Breaking down the visual boundary How do the visually-impaired enjoy art
Letter from the Editor Since the last issue of TYR, we’ve seen the best Oscar winning movies and athletes compete at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. That came just in time for our new sports desk here at TYR. It’s all new to us, but we are bringing you a photo essay from this year’s Division One Inter-school Athletics Competition. We also look into gender equality in sports, and our city’s need for support in Winter sports. Some have called Hong Kong a “Cultural Desert”. But here at TYR, we wonder if that is a misconception. In putting together this issue, we found ourselves wandering around the streets of one of our busiest districts, admiring street art on the walls of back alleys.
Alexandra Lin Jade Li James Allen Kenji Chan Lloyd Hewitt-Robinson Raphael Blet Robert McGain Sammi Chan Windy Li Yolanda Gao
Angie Chan Caroline Kwok Michael Shum Michelle Ng Art Directors
Candice Wong Dorothy Ma Erica Chin Erin Chan Distribution Officers
Einderdeep Singh Ezra Cheung Social Media Editors
Last but not least, we also find out how people with vision impairments can enjoy movies and paintings. We, as the new generation of Hong Kong, believe in actions speak louder than words! Sincerely, Holly Chik Chiu-wai Editor-in-chief
Elisa Luk Melanie Japson Sharon Pun Multimedia Editors
Elly Wu Kobie Li Maggie Liu Scout Xu Wing Li Yoyo Chow Zinnia Lee
Amy Ho Anna Kam Cara Li Izefia Nie Katherine Li Melissa Ko Nadia Lam Oasis Li Phoebe Lai Rachel Yeo Shane Wang Tomiris Urstembayeva Vanessa Yung Wallis Wang Yetta Lam
Jenny Lam Robin Ewing Printer The Young Reporter Volume 50 No. 5 2018
Department of Journalism School of Communication Hong Kong Baptist University
Reported by Melissa Ko Edited by Jade Li and Yolanda Gao
Photo credit to Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey
Children are attending the ice hockey training programme provided by Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey. Photo credit to Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey
Hong Kong’s first Olympic skier and only athlete in Pyeongchang this year, Hong Kong-born Arabella Ng, 16, has raised the city’s interest in winter sports, but locals say they shouldn’t have to move to Canada, like Ms. Ng did, in order to enjoy them.
With a sub-tropical climate, Hong Kong is obviously not the first place a winter athlete might think to train. The last time the Hong Kong Observatory reported “slight snow” was in 1975.
adapted it to include “floor curling” as a reaction to the city’s lack of ice. The government was not financing any sporting facilities or infrastructure for the sport, he said.
However, he said the Hong Kong But there are several local curling team has had “signifiwinter sports activities, includ- cant growth in world ranking “A young athlete suddenly ing ice skating, ice hockey, after the games,” he said. “Their representing Hong Kong skiing and curling, in Hong aim now turns to 2022 Beijing in the Winter Olympics has Kong, said Mr. Li, who is also Winter Olympic Games.” shocked everyone,” said John a former lecturer in recreation Li Shek-chong, the founder and and sports management at the The leaders of winter sports associations should share the president of the Hong Kong University of Hong Kong. responsibility of improving Curling Association. The city is developing ice skat- facilities, he said. Of the 994 public sports facilities ing and ice hockey at a faster in the city - such as soccer pitches, pace, he said, while the facilities “All Hong Kong-based winter squash courts and sports cen- for skiing and curling are still in sports associations should tres - none can be used for winter the early stages of development. form a winter sport federation to voice their opinions sports, according to the 2016-2017 annual report of Leisure and Cul- Mr. Li started the local curl- and govern the winter sports ing association in 2014, and development in Hong Kong tural Service Department.
Slope Infinity is the city’s sole indoor ski and snowboard centre. Photo credit to Slope Infinity
together, instead of listening to the board members’ opinions which contradict with their summer sports and the sharing of the resources from the government and International Olympic Committee,” he said. The government should transform unused sports venues into new facilities, Mr. Li added. “There are not enough venues at the present time,” said Barry Beck, general manager of Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey and former captain of New York Rangers. “Ice time is expensive in Hong Kong so we must use alternative resources like inline hockey and synthetic ice as a development tool,” Mr. Beck said, adding that more quality coaches are needed.
The Hong Kong team of four participates in the 2017 World Mixed Curling Championship held in Switzerland. Photo credit to Hong Kong Curling Association
Fione Poon, a snowboard and ski instructor at Slope Infinity, an indoor ski and snowboard training centre, said people usually “come for leisure and learning before their vacation.” Professional teams do not book Slope Infinity, she said. Ms. Ng trains at the Green Mountain Valley School Ski Academy in Vermont, United States, but not in Hong Kong.
Reported by Phoebe Lai Edited by Robert McGain Photos edited by Kobie Lee
10 CULTURE & LEISURE
People gather in an alleyway next to a quirky antique store on Hollywood Road. They snap photos in front of “The Kowloon Walled City”, a mural outside an old building. “They want to promote a kind of local Eastern lifestyle in contrast with a Western equivalent,” said Ms. Mou, “so they pay the artist to depict something very local in Hong Kong.” Emerald Mou Tian-tian, who works full-time at The Economist, conducts street art tours in Central for Accidental Art at weekends. She said most of the murals in Hong Kong are commissioned. “That means the owners of the walls pay the artists to depict what they agree to be put on the walls,” said Ms. Mou. Jason Dembski, co-founder of HKwalls, an art NGO which focuses on street art, said coming to an agreement on what should go on a wall varies in different districts. “The owners are more engaged in Central. Sometimes I would say maybe a little too much,” said Mr. Dembski. “ We have our preferences and they have theirs and the artists have their preferences on which wall they want to paint. So it’s a lot of work.”
Local artist, Neil Wang Lai-ho, is participating in the HKwalls festival this year. He was not allowed to paint on the wall of a jewellery shop because of his design. “When the shop owner looked at my design, he seemed to dislike the fact that the woman I wanted to paint wears jewellery,” said Mr. Wang. “He doesn’t want it to seem like he is showing off. He is afraid that people in the neighbourhood might have opinions.” Mr. Dembski said organising HKWalls in Sham Shui Po two years ago was much easier. The shop owners were accepting towards street art even though they didn’t seem enthusiastic.
Connections matter when it comes to commissioning street art. Stan Wu, a co-founder of HKwalls, also owns Egg Shell Stickers, a sticker company based in Hong Kong which has worked and established connections with artists from all around the world. The company was also a major sponsor of this year’s HKwalls. “He knows a lot of people and has a lot of their contacts already,” said Mr. Dembski. “ From doing this festival over the past five years, we have met a lot of people, ” He said.
“In Sham Shui Po, it’s much more local and maybe low-income as well,” said Mr. Dembski. “People there have other concerns.” Phoebe Luk Hou-hei, is a co-founder of Dreamory, a local online e-commerce store which paints the gates at shops in old districts. She said they obtain permission from shop owners mainly by getting in touch with people who know the owners. “We approach the shop owners through our collaborators, YWCA, a non-governmental association that provides community services to people in the district,” said Ms. Luk. “We then approach the shop owners to discuss what we would like to do for them.”
According to Ms. Mou, a local artist, Rob Sketche to produce this mural. He incorperates significan Hong Kong in his design.
HKwalls has reached out to people who they have known for some time, for funding and other resources to make the festival a success. Sylvia Lam Yee-shan, works for Montana Colors, a company that produces and designs spray paint specifically for street artists that is a sponsor of HKwalls festivals, said many of the artists participating in the festival have worked with them in the past. Ms. Luk from Dreamory, however, said it can be hard sometimes to start street art projects in Hong Kong because it’s difficult to find sponsors and resources.
erman, corporates with Hotel Madera Hollywood nt figures from Hollywood and the landscape of
“Usually, we start without any funding,” said Ms. Luk, “we buy paint and brushes with our own money, and hopefully, when you start getting attention, you get funding and resources from people who believe in what you do.”
The Hong Kong Arts Development Council focuses on annual art surveys to tap the trends in the local community. Through questionnaires, they gather the views of local businesses on art sponsorship and cultural activities.
Ms. Lam believes there are lots of opportunities for street art in other cities.
Over the past year, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council provided more than $15 million in grants, mainly to theatre, music and film operations.
In Bristol, UK, for example, the government invested a huge sum of money in Upfest, a three-day street art and graffiti festival where artists from around the world gather. Upfest is the largest festival of its kind in Europe. To promote local talent, Bristol-based artists are given more space than artists from anywhere else. In Amsterdam, the government also puts money in the Urban Art Festival, which includes mural exhibitions and street art tours in partnership with more than 50 artists. In Hong Kong, HKwalls rented a venue in Central where artists can showcase and sell their work such as stickers and t-shirts. Ms. Luk said the Hong Kong government has shown support for local art development by funding the Hong Kong Arts Development Council but she doubts whether the council has clear directions on how to spend the money on developing street art.
But Mr. Wang Lai-ho, a local artist, believes street art has its audience in Hong Kong. “I saw many photographers follow the work of HKwalls by wandering around this area,” said Mr. Wang. “People gather around to watch us paint.” Media coverage of the festival has been extensive. Ms. Lam said street art has the potential to develop in Hong Kong because young people like it, but the progress can be faster if the government is willing to keep up with the trend. “I think the difference is that governments in other countries are more open to new things and experiences,” said Ms. Lam, “maybe it’s not that the Hong Kong government is not acceptive of new things, but just they are used to what they have always been doing.”
ElsaGate: Invisible trap for children Reported by Phoebe Lai and Izefia Nie Edited by Elisa Luk, Michelle Ng, Michael Shum and Angie Chan Photos edited by Scout Xu
Ian Lai Yee-shun, a primary 4 student, watches violent cartoons on YouTube.
A child scrolls through his smartphone, watching how Minnie Mouse in a revealing swimsuit hits Mickey Mouse with a surfboard continuously at the beach.
In Summer 2017, “ElsaGate” has officially become a hashtag on Twitter. An “ElsaGate” discussion group was formed on Reddit and it attracted thousands of internet users.
channel based in Canada, Webs & Tiaras – Toy Monster Compilations, the third most-viewed YouTube channel in the world in 2016. It gained around 1.7 billion views over its first video.
This is only one of the many scenes of “ElsaGate” videos that are still available on YouTube. These videos are named under some of the most popular cartoon characters now such as Spiderman, Joker and Disney characters in situations with violence, toilet humour and sexual content inappropriate for kids.
Some videos follow a plot which Elsa and Spiderman fall in love and have babies with scenes showing characters flirting, kissing and having intimate body contacts. Another video shows Peppa Pig being hanged, shot, possessed and attacked.
This channel produced videos of compilations of people dressed up as superheroes and princesses with odd plots. For example, a pregnant Elsa is being taken care of by a midwife, who happens to be the Joker.
The video following this parThe Guardian reported in ticular plot gained over three November 2016 on a YouTube million views on YouTube.
I did not search for them on purpose, these videos appeared on my recommended list of videos.
Ian Lai Yee-shun Primary 4 student
According to Socialblade, a statistics website that collects and analyses data from YouTube, Twitter, Twitch and Instagram, the channel earned around US$61,000 to US$976,500 ($478,500 to $7.7 million) each month from its videos in 2017. The New York Times published an article in November 2017 highlighting the prominence of these disturbing videos in households worldwide.
In January 2018, China took action in fighting against “ElsaGate” videos by holding a national campaign and deleting relevant videos on websites such as Iqiyi, Youku and Tudou etc.
“I work eight to ten hours a day, spend around one to two hours with Ian after work. I was surprised to hear that (swear words) because we have never taught him that,” said the father.
Google is currently allowing advertisements only on YouTube channels with more than 1000 subscribers and 4,000 viewing hours a year to filter out videos with ill content.
He said that he finds out what his son watches on YouTube only if his son shares it with him.
YouTube claimed on November 2017 that they have closed down over 270 accounts and removed over 150,000 videos Dr. Louis Kok Dick-shun, a child and forensic psychologist with violent content. from Hong Kong Children’s Ian Lai Yee-shun, a primary 4 Mental Center, said children student and the son of a dual- usually show signs of interest earner family, spends 15 to 60 and knowledge in sex in their minutes on YouTube on his content of speech and action, such as using more sexual jarphone every day. gons, after watching videos “I see faces of the cartoons with sexual content. becoming horrifying in the videos. They are funny,” he said. Finsen Lai Lok-cheong, father of Ian, found his son speaking these foul language after watching these videos on YouTube.
views gained by the #elsagate series videos accounts taken down for violent contents by Youtube
+ Source: The Guardian, 2016; Vice News, 2017
“I usually tell him to stop and hand over his phone whenever I hear foul language and strange noises coming from the videos he was watching.” said Mr. Lai.
videos deleted for violent contents by Youtube
I work eight to ten hours a day, spend around one to two hours with Ian after work. I was surprised to hear that (swear words) because we have never taught him that. Mr. Finsen Lai Lok-cheong Father of Ian Lai Yee-shun
He said violence reflects on children’s actions, especially after they have watched videos with violent content. “When facing injustice, they would result in hitting others to resolve the problem,” said Dr. Kok.
Dr. Kok emphasized the importance of parental care. Parents must keep an eye on what their children are watching, and use filter softwares to percolate YouTube videos.
smartphones nowadays, Dr. Kok said that there will always be a high chance of children coming across disturbing videos online because their phones provide easy access to the internet.
“There can be anything on the internet, and children do not know how to choose. This can be very dangerous, “said Dr. Kok. “Parents should take the initiative to solve the problem, they need to teach their children The Institute of Family Educa- what is right,” tion found that near half of the parents of primary school chil- Ms. Kwok pointed out that dren have spent less than seven children will know what is hours weekly with their family. wrong with the videos online only if they have the right Bonnie Kwok Ching-man, chair- values in mind. person of the Hong Kong Parent Education Association, said parents lose sight of their children’s behaviour in a highly competitive society. They allow their children to use smartphones Kwok said merely confiscation without providing guidance, of children's phones does not which lacks parental care. help solve the problem. In Hong Kong, the average daily working hour for the city’s employees is almost 9 hours according to the Census and Statistics Department.
He added that children may She suggested parents spend even have bloody imaginations quality time with their children to reinforce effective from extreme violent scenes. communication. “These videos are too tempting to children,” said Dr. Kok, The Report of Advisory Group “It would be hard to erase the on Health Effects of Use of memories from their minds Internet and Electronic Prodonce they have watched them.” ucts from the Department of Health in Hong Kong showed The expert also said a lot of that children generally do not parents are initially shocked have enough skills to protect upon discovering their chil- themselves and block inapprodren watching these disturbing priate messages when they are videos. Some parents would able to go online at a young age. have known of this behaviour for a long while before they Children having their own approach him for help.
Ms. Bonnie Kwok Ching-man Chairperson of the Hong Kong Parent
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Diocesan for i
17 Reported by Michael Shum and Michelle Ng Photos taken by Angie Chan, Candice Wong, Michael Shum, Michelle Ng, Melanie Japson, Sharon Pun, Yoyo Chow and Zinnia Lee Photos edited by Caroline Kwok and Michelle Ng
n schools defended their crowns inter-school athletics meet
Three of seven records broken by Good Hope School (GHS) proved insufficient to be in the way for Diocesan Girls’ School (DGS) to defend their 12th consecutive title. On the other hand, La Salle College (LSC) failed to cut the 31-point deficit from Day 2, making them second to Diocesan Boys’ School (DBS), who claimed their sixth consecutive title. Over 20 schools gathered at the Wanchai Sports Ground on March 9 for the Division One Inter-school Athletics Competition. After the three-day competition, DGS attained their 12th consecutive overall champion by 468 points, 85 points ahead of the first runner-up, GHS. Ally Chow, captain of the DGS athletics team said they had started their intensive practice since December, and have given up their holidays for the event. “We hope our victory this year can mark the start of more consecutive champions in the future,” she added.
Chloe Chan from GHS broke the Girls A Grade 200m record, which makes GHS the school that broke the most records this year with three records broken. She thanked her supportive classmates after the match, â€œWith their heartfelt cheerings, I think I did quite well today.â€? For the boys division, DBS claimed their 6th consecutive overall champion, with a 32-point win over LSC. DBS was disqualified in the Boys A Grade 4 x 100m relay, where points are counted twice. But they still managed to defend their A Grade title merely by 6 points despite LSC successfully snatched the first place in the relay. LSC was able to get past DBS in B Grade with a big margin of 22 points, but the C Grade results of LSC has really let them down, with a 38-point gap between them. DBS went on to win the whole competition, winning by 32 points over LSC.
Girl Power: Women pushing for more gender equality in sports Reported by Katherine Li Edited by Lloyd Hewitt-Robinson
As the only Chinese ethnicity among all children participants, this girl starts out being shy and reserved and unwilling to participate much. However, with encouragement from the trainer, she finds the strength to try her best with throwing the football and succeeds.
Weekdays, Jess Cole is a marketing manager in Central, but come weekends, she is the only regular female player with the Hong Kong Dragons, the only Australian rules football club in the city.
but has been playing since the age of 12 in Australia, where she was born. She is not fazed by the fact that she is the only female practising and attending tournaments with more than 50 men on the team.
Ms. Cole started playing AFL when she arrived in Hong Kong two and a half years ago,
“Starting to play AFL here was difficult,” Ms. Cole said. “At first some guys were
definitely confused to see me. But when I proved myself game after game, over time there is more acceptance.” Women may shy away from contact sports for social reasons, Ms. Cole said. Academics hold more weight than sports in Hong Kong and
the definition of success differs across cultures, she said. “When girls get to a certain age, like between 14 to 16, we become more self-conscious and have more desire to fit into what most people traditionally considered as feminine. Then when they get older and have to deal with more school work or build careers, especially in Hong Kong, work is almost always prioritized over sports,” said Ms. Cole. However, on a global scale, many sporting events are becoming more gender inclusive as female athletes continue to break boundaries and organisations continue to advocate gender equality in sports, she said. Even though the Olympics did not include women in all types of sports till 2012, the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, which ended last month, had the highest percentage of female
At first some guys were definitely confused to see me. But when I proved myself game after game, over time there is more acceptance.
Ms. Jess Cole Regular player in the Hong Kong Dragons, Australian football club
Participants are helping each other practice the punches and giving each other instructions. They said that it is much easier to practice in a mutually supportive environment.
participants ever for a Winter Olympics, reaching 43 percent. The Rio 2016 Olympic Games had 45 percent female participation, a record high in Olympic history. “It is vital for women to do sports, not only for gender representation but also because skills like decision making, communication, self-confidence can be built through participating in sports, which is correlated to success in a professional environment,” said Alicia Lui, one of the founders of Women In Sports Empowered Hong Kong. WISE Hong Kong, was founded in 2016, by Ms. Lui and Cardeux Nel, Laura Fernandez, and Wanda Yuen because of their mutual passion for sports and their recognition that female athletes often face more challenges. WISE’s mission is to
support female athletes and to encourage more girls to participate in sports. ‘We have many events and lectures about translating success in sports to corporate success,” said Ms. Nel, “Just recently, we put a girl from Hong Kong International School, who plays contact rugby, in touch with a mentor for guidance.” In celebration of International Women’s Day, their Mother-Daughter Bonding sports event attracted many participants but few Chinese, she said. “Parents have a huge influence over whether or not their children lead an active lifestyle,” said Ms. Yuen, who said her parents told her not to become a professional athlete. “Local parents put a huge emphasis on academic achievements, while schools want to see high grades as well.”
“There should be more training methods that specifically aim at women,” Wei Wencheng, a guest professor in the Sports Academy of Xihua University in China. “Especially in traditionally male sports that are now inclusive.”
my calves and thighs are too muscular and told me that I should like to make them slimmer. When I asked why, he just said ‘because you are a woman’. Then I had to explain to him it’s because I do sports more frequently that my legs are more muscular,” Ms. Fernandez, said.
Prof. Wei, who was also the coach for the Chinese National Bodybuilding Team in 1998, added that hormones and bone structure affect the way men and women train.
Ms. Cole said women can start by training in groups to build a safe athletic environment. Girls can find inner confidence through physical activity, she said.
But not everyone is supportive of female athletes, Ms. Fernandez, one of the founders of WISE, said. “When I was at a local gym, a Hong Kong coach started talking about areas of improvement and said that
The Hong Kong Dragons is recruiting more female permanent players for the team, Ms. Cole said, adding that an all-female AFL team is also in the process of training and hopes to be on tour after this summer.
“I love AFL because it is a very grassroots sport that sustains mainly on passion,” Ms. Cole said, “so no matter if you are a professional or not, the most vital thing, above all else, is to have fun and enjoy the process, then at least you will reap the fruits of emotional well-being.”
There should be more training methods that specifically aim at women. Especially in traditionally male sports that are now inclusive.
Prof. Wei Wencheng Guest professor in the Sports Academy of Xihua University in China
With the encouragement from her mother, this girl throws her very first punches in the self-defence exercise.
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24 HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT
Breaking down the visual boundary: How do visually impaired people enjoy art Reported by Oasis Li and Vanessa Yung Edited by Raphael Belt Photos edited by Scout Xu
Nicole Ching Suet-kwan touches the smile of the Mona Lisa at the 5th Hong Kong Touch Art Festival.
Nicole Ching gently touched the smile on the Mona Lisa. A voice came from a loudspeaker above where she was standing to describe the artwork. “When I used to be able to see, I loved singing and painting,” Ms. Ching said. “When I lost my sight, I thought I would not able to enjoy art anymore.” Ms. Ching lost her sight because of severe optic neuritis when she was 12 years old.
“The first time I was able to enjoy art after I lost my vision, I felt so excited,” Ms. Ching grinned with delight, “then I realised I was still capable of doing something without my eyes.” Ms. Ching enjoys art through touch and taste. She binds the branches of unwanted Christmas trees into a wreath with hempen cords. Although she cannot see, she can feel the tender texture of the leaves and smell the delicate aroma.
Ms. Ching is a guide at the fifth Hong Kong Touch Art Festival. “Art festivals are usually enjoyed through looking at the pieces, but this one is quite different,” Ms. Ching said, “I am eager to let our friends understand that we can also enjoy art through touch, sound and smell.” Ms. Ching explained that getting a detail description of a piece of artwork may leave a visually impaired person feel
isolated. “It can be abstract for us to understand if we cannot touch the exhibits with our own hands,” Ms. Ching said. At the Touch Art Festival, artists used a relief painting technique to add subtle textures to help blind people envision the artwork. Ms. Ching created one of the artwork on display, the Temperature of the Quilt, with a sighted artist. At this exhibition, visually impaired visitors can get an audio description of every display while there are only quite a few of the tactile artwork are designed especially for the visually disabled, the rest can only be admired through seeing them. Ms. Ching explained that blind people can enjoy movies with a little help. Her favourite is Little Big Master. The narrator’s vivid description helped her understand the plot. “I remember one of the five kids dreams of becoming Miss Hong Kong, but the actress was just acting silently without any dialogue,” Ms. Ching recalled, “I didn’t realise what happened until the audio explained that the girl imagined she was gorgeously dressed up on stage and wearing a crown.” To help others understand the world of those who have lost their sight, Crossroads Foundation has created a simulation called the blind experience. Visitors are
brought to a dark room where they cannot see anything. “We are telling you that even you cannot see anything, you can use other senses to find where you are,” explained Ming Chung, who works at the foundation.
For people with visual impairment, it is not only a matter of more topics for daily conversations or social participation, but also a kind of social inclusion. Dawning Leung
Chief Executive Officer of Audio Description Association (Hong Kong)
He helped to organise Central Beyond Vision, a display of tactile paintings aimed at providing a new perspective for people, including the visually impaired, to understand artworks and city landmarks through verbal descriptions.
“I think audio description is very important because everyone should be able to enjoy art and movies even if they cannot see,” Mr. Chung said. The Audio Description Association called for use of narratives to help visually impaired people to enjoy movies, TV programmes, exhibitions and sightseeing. “The audio needs to describe actors’ expressions, movements and important scenes without disturbing the dialogue, sound effects and background music,” said Dawning Leung, the Chief Executive Officer of Audio Description Association (Hong Kong). In the movie Echoes of the Rainbow, the cobbler, Mr. Lau, pawns off his wedding ring to buy blood for his son, who has cancer. The director uses three shots to narrate this plot: a close-up of Mr. Lau’s left hand with a golden ring on his third finger, then a shot without the ring, and finally the pays for the blood. “How can a blind person know why the cobbler’s wife suddenly cries?” Ms. Leung said, “so it’s necessary for us to describe what happens in those important scenes.” Ms. Leung used to be a student volunteer who offered audio description services at the Hong Kong Society for the Blind . They were the first
to offer audio description of movies in Hong Kong. Over the past nine years, it has held more than 200 screenings for about 10,000 blind people and has issued 16 DVDs with audio description channels. Now, Ms. Leung is pursuing her doctorate at the Centre for Translation Studies, University College London, where she focuses on audio description and media accessibility. She has become the eyes of the visually impaired for more than seven years, providing numerous performances, workshops and trainings on audio description in Hong Kong. She noticed that the seats in British theatres are usually equipped with audio description channel and the visually disabled can request the service when purchasing tickets.
“The audio description channel will not bother other audiences in the theatre,” Ms. Leung said. “For people with visual impairment, it is not only a matter of more topics for daily conversations or social participation, but also a kind of social inclusion.” She believed everybody should be treated equally and have fair opportunities to receive information. “Audio description started in Hong Kong decades behind the UK,” Ms. Leung explained. “There are three legislations in the United Kingdom that support audio description: the Broadcasting Act in 1996, the Communication Act in 2003 and the Equality Act in 2010.”
The Audio Description Association holds film screening events regularly for the visually disabled where descriptors are present to describe the movie scenes for the audience. photo credit to Audio Description Association (Hong Kong)
The Broadcasting Act in 1996 states that 10% of television programmes per week must provide audio description for viewers with visual impairment. “Actually, some TV stations in the UK produce audio description for 20% of their programmes,” Ms. Leung said. “For films, they have issued at least 1,000 DVDs with an audio description channel.” In Hong Kong, she found most film companies and theatres are open to adding audio descriptions during post-production.
Yet Ms. Leung thinks that it is not the time for audio descriptions to be mandatory in the city. She thinks the government should first promote it. “I think that the most urgent thing is to let people realise how audio description can help the visually impaired gain more information,” Ms. Leung said. “Only then will they come to realise that audio description can really open up a new industry for the visually impaired community.”