Wang He, 20, a blind but gifted piano player from northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, is busy preparing for his college life in Beijing, while his peers are waiting for their university entrance exam results.
"My dream finally came true. I still can not believe it," said Wang, who received an offer from the department of Music at Beijing Union University special education department.
Benefitting from the school's independent recruitment, Wang took its general knowledge and piano tests in April.
"The school also required me to pass the piano tests at both China Conservatory of Music and Zhejiang Conservatory of Music. These tests exempted me from taking the national college entrance examination," said Wang, whose eyesight was damaged by a severe fever at the age of two.
He said he also owed this opportunity to China's supportive policies for visually impaired students to pursue their college dreams.
In 2015, the Chinese Ministry of Education and the China Disabled Persons' Federation jointly issued a notice to provide a braille version of the national college exam, give disabled students more time to finish the test, and exempt them from the English listening portion.
Wang, then in junior highschool, was living in Xiji county on the bank of Yellow River when another blind girl told him about the new exam exemptions.
This gave him the courage to apply for Ningxia's Special Education High School, a step towards achieving his dream of going to college. If he had not applied, he says he would have gone to a vocational school to learn a skill, for example traditional Chinese massage, a common job for many blind people in China.
Wang said his world became totally dark at the age of 10, which made it impossible for him to stay in his public primary school.
His father Wang Qiwen discovered his son's interest in music, and hired two teachers for him, one teaching braille and the other piano.
"I hoped music could light up his world and keep him company," his father said.
At first, his mother Zhang Haiping read the musical notes to him so he could memorize them before practice. Three years later, Wang He learned to read braille sheet music by himself.
"He loves playing the piano so much and is truly gifted. He practices at least seven hours a day and passed the 10-level piano exam in just three and a half years," said his father.
While playing the piano, Wang He also caught up on his school classes.
In 2014, while enrolled at the Ningxia Special Education High School located in Yinchuan, Ningxia's regional capital, he took part in the Seventh United Kingdom Royal International Academy Contest and placed first in the China Region.
At the award ceremony, he was invited to play the award-winning piece Beethoven's Symphony of Fate.
"It was a surprise for me. I never thought of winning. Then I remembered that hard work always pays off," Wang He said.
"I hope to become a piano teacher after gradation so I can help blind children in Ningxia," he said.
In 2017, Chinese universities and colleges enrolled 10,808 disabled students, and another 1,845 disabled students were admitted to special education higher learning schools.
(Xinhua News Agency June 13, 2018)