This week is New Zealand Blind Week. The Christchurch Press interviewed CP as part of the promoting of it. In the article CP discusses the need for people to be tolerant and to ask if they are unsure what to do. Follow the link to read the article on Stuff, or if it drops off there here it is in full:
A talent for taste has helped blind Christchurch winemaker Chung-Pin Lin build a rich life.
Lin, 38, is an ambassador for the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind’s annual Blind Week appeal starting today.
Lin, who lost his sight to retinal cancer at age two, is winemaker at Waipara’s Mountford Estate, and a vineyard consultant in Australia, Europe and the United States.
He said the blindness had not affected his winemaking skills, although the perception he had heightened senses was incorrect.
“I certainly do use the other four senses more because when you lose one you do tend to compensate a bit more, but to say I’m better because of the sight loss, that’s actually not true,” he said.
“You still have to be born with the talent for tasting and have the understanding of the wine industry. It’s more the fact that I’m good at what I do.”
However, talent did not always result in tolerance from others.
Lin said he told classmates while studying at Lincoln University in 1995 that his goal was to make the best Pinot noir in New Zealand.
“Quite a lot of my classmates laughed. It was not a very good response.”
It typified the attitude Blind Week aimed to change, he said.
“If you meet a blind person and don’t know what to do, just ask. If you’re not comfortable with something, you tend to avoid it.”
Lin said he had also been guilty of judging in the past.
“I remember when I was younger if I came across people in wheelchairs or the intellectually disabled, I always felt slightly uncomfortable – even though I have a disability myself.
“I can appreciate why people look at me and think `that guy’s blind, we’d rather avoid him than go up and talk to him’.”
Lin, who moved to Christchurch from Taiwan in his teens, lost both eyes to retinoblastoma, a cancer that develops in the cells of the retina.
Although most sufferers would now retain partial sight, he said blindness for him at the time was “just life”. “You either live and you can’t see, or you die. There’s not really much choice.”
Lin hoped his achievements would inspire other blind people. “I’ve been one of the pioneers of getting things done that other people thought could not be done.
“I think that gives encouragement to other blind people that they can do it.”
Blind Week runs until November 2. Call 0800 DONATE (366 283) or visit http://www.blindweek.org.nz