Zhang Haidi, who has been described as ‘China’s Helen Keller’, is set to be inaugurated as chairwoman for Rehabilitation International (RI), an international disability rights organisation, in Edinburgh, Scotland on October 27.
Elected in 2014 after gaining 71 votes from 28 countries, Zhang will officially begin her tenure during the closing ceremony of this year’s event, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
Already president of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, Zhang has been lauded for her work promoting the well-being of disabled people in China. She is also head of the Chinese Paralympic delegation.
Born in 1955, she was left paralysed after surgery to remove spinal tumours at the age of five. Unable to attend school, she taught herself to a university level, as well as learning English, German, Japanese and Esperanto.
She also wrote and translated many books, before obtaining a Master’s degree in Philosophy from Jilin University in 1993.
Founded in 1922, RI is a disability rights organisation comprised of people with disabilities, service providers, government agencies, academics, researchers and advocates. It has member organisations in every region in the world.