Jamaliah Mohd Yasin is a mother of two and grandmother of three. She has a deep passion for photography but what really sets her apart from the other photographers is – she’s visually impaired.
Thirty years ago, she was diagnosed with glaucoma which is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world. She was working as a customer service officer at that time but as her vision started deteriorating, she was transferred to do administration work instead. By the age of 61, she had gone completely blind and is now classified as B1 – total visual impairment.
Since she had plenty of free time at home, her nephew recommended Jamaliah to learn some life skills at the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) Training Centre in Ipoh. There, she re-learned how to walk and do house chores again.
Two months ago, Huawei Malaysia collaborated with MAB and Plus Community to launch a three-month “Sensory Photography” series of classes targetting a group of visually impaired individuals. Jamaliah heard about this and agreed to join since she came from a family of photographers.
There, the participants were taught how to envision their surroundings and express themselves using photography. All this is made possible with Huawei P20 Pro’s artificial intelligence technology. We know what you’re thinking, and no, this article is not sponsored by Huawei.
Anyway, the participants were able to take photographs using the smart voice guide and the AI-powered camera which could notify you of what’s in the frame. The class was taught by David Lok, a Malaysian photographer who founded DL Studios. Out of 15 students there, Jamaliah is the only one with B1 classification.
“Someone would bring us to a place and describe what was in front of us. I would take pictures based on my intuition. Since I can’t see, I would take continuous shots from different angles. Using the smartphone, I took over 2,000 pictures in one go,” Jamaliah said.
The smartphones have to be returned to the staff at the end of each class and that’s when Jamaliah’s talent was discovered. When browsing through her phone, the staff discovered her pictures to be very captivating, especially the mosque in the sunset.
The staff then quietly submitted a few of her pictures for Huawei’s Next-Image Photography Awards 2018, which put her in competition against photographers with perfect vision from all over the world. She didn’t win but her pictures were shortlisted until the final round! You go, girl!
Jamaliah was thrilled when she got the news and it’s as if she saw a new light in her life. Now, she would whip out her phone and take pictures whenever she feels happy, regardless of the time and location in order to capture every wonderful moment in life.
Thanks to the arrangement from the Welfare Department, she has learnt how to massage patients with stroke and Parkinson’s Disease as she wants to make herself useful. She’s now waiting for employment.
Jamaliah’s journey is nothing short of inspiring and we wish her all the best for her employment. Hopefully, she can make a career out of photography to support her retired life.