“I have a passion for showing other blind people technologies that will allow them to be independent and do what they want to do,” LightHouse Access Technology Specialist Shen Kuan said when asked what led him to the blindness field and working for LightHouse. Shen understands blindness deeply; when he was eight-years-old he was in an accident that caused him to lose his vision. In 1986, 10-year-old Shen and his family relocated to the Bay Area from Taiwan to receive medical treatment, attend school as a blind student, and enjoy the Bay Area’s beautiful weather. In 1987, Shen became a client of the LightHouse to receive information about blindness in the Bay Area. It wasn’t long before Shen became a camper at Enchanted Hills (EHC), where he developed strong ties to other blind friends in the area.
As a client of the LightHouse, Shen discovered the deep impact of having blind role models and a resource to turn to for help and information. He became a camp counselor at EHC and began volunteering at the LightHouse in the youth services department to give back to our community. As he matured he developed a strong affinity for electronics and computers, especially devices that assist the blind, and became a certified Microsoft Systems Engineer to advance his tech skills. In 2006, almost twenty years after he first found us, Shen noticed an opening for a part-time position in the LightHouse Technology Department. He was hired and he eagerly pursued his commitment to helping blind people access and learn life-changing technologies that are transforming the way blind people live their lives.
Learning new technology can be challenging for a beginner or even someone like Shen who is on perhaps his tenth operating system. Ironically, some companies offer accessibility features that are not that easy to access. Enter Shen. He trains clients on how to set accessibility settings on PCs, Macs, and smart phones, use iPhones, as well as how to become an efficient touch typist, master Microsoft Word, learn important keystrokes that take the place of using an inaccessible computer mouse, and so much more. “Anyone of any age can benefit from training,” he emphasized. “I have trained clients from all walks of life, from twenty-something college students to retired professors.”
Shen has not let his blindness slow him down; he is fit and active. He is an excellent goalball player and has spent over 20 years perfecting his skills. When he can’t get to a goalball court, Shen loves to take brisk walks through iconic San Francisco neighborhoods.
In his spare time he loves to travel and in recent years has been to New York, Japan, Taiwan and Italy. And when Shen is not at work or exercising, he is probably watching old episodes of Star Trek and practicing his Klingonese. In the early ‘90s, Star Trek was the first movie he was able to watch with audio description. Because of Star Trek’s pioneering audio description, Shen found his imagination wandering between celestial bodies and he became hooked on the series. Though hasn’t attended a Star Trek convention yet, we know that one day we’ll catch Shen in full Captain Kirk costume as he walks down Market to join his Trekker friends.
Shen is a strong model for those he teaches, simply by doing what comes naturally, living life to its fullest. From playing a competitive round of goalball, to helping fellow blind individuals access and utilized accessible technology to achieve their goals, Shen gives his all. Don’t be shy; contact Shen if you have any questions about which technologies can transform your life. Oh, and next time you see Shen, be sure to say “nuqneH, qaStaH nug” – that’s “Hello, what’s happening?” in Klingonese. You can reach Shen at 415-694-7312 or email@example.com.