Saturday June 23, 2012
Blind IT manager looks past criticism to live his childhood dreams
By JOSEPH KAOS Jr
KUALA LUMPUR: Silatul Rahim Dahman already had big dreams as a boy. However, no one took the boy seriously back then he had lost his sight after suffering from chickenpox at the age of five.
Teachers belittled him when he talked about wanting to work with computers.
“Don't be crazy, a blind person will not be able to handle a PC,” Silatul Rahim painfully recalled one telling him.
“Polish your Malay and English, you can be an efficient telephone operator,” another shot at him.
These words only served to fire up the Jitra boy's determination to realise his dreams. The rest is now history.
Silatul Rahim is said to be the country's first blind person to obtain a computer science diploma, obtaining the qualification from the Overbrook College for the Blind in Philadelphia in 1991.
“My parents had faith in me. I knew it when they sold their farmland to send me to the United States,” he said yesterday.
These days, the 44-year-old is a role model to the visually-impaired, encouraging them to live independently using his pet interest.
He spends time teaching them how a computer can be used to make a living.
Silatul Rahim, an assistive technology and web accessibility specialist who works as an IT manager at the Malaysian Association of the Blind, has imparted his knowledge to more than 5,000 blind students from across the region.
“This is the one thing I want to keep doing in my life ... to exploit technology for the benefit of my fellow blind.
“I am happy to note that many of those whom I have taught have become successful in their careers, some have even become lawyers and accountants,” said the father of four.
Yesterday, Silatul Rahim attended the launch of the new Special Persons Secretariat placed under the Umno Youth Community Complaints Bureau, of which he is the chairman.
The secretariat will serve as a one-stop centre for people with special needs and help them to seek employment, welfare allowances and insurance cover.
“When we attend interviews, employers always judge us based on our disability. This is sad,” he added.