Zhang Haidi, a Chinese writer, translator, and inspirational speaker, is often referred to as China's Helen Keller or Pavel Korchagin. She is currently serving as chairwoman of the 7th Presidium of the China Disabled Persons' Federation and president of the Chinese National Paralympic Committee.
Zhang was born in 1955 in Jinan, Shandong province. She began working in 1981 and joined the CPC in 1982. She graduated from the Philosophy Department of Jilin University.
She has been disabled since the age of five due to illness, but has nevertheless made great achievements in translation and literature.
Zhang Haidi discusses her reading experiences in Hefei, capital of Anhui province, on March 17, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]
Zhang contracted polio as a child and following four operations to remove tumors from her spine, was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Zhang was unable to attend school and educated herself to university level. She learned several foreign languages including English, Japanese, German, and Esperanto. In 1993, she was awarded a master's degree in Philosophy by Jilin University.
Zhang has published a dual-language book entitled Beautiful English and has translated several works of western literature. She works together with her husband and has said that disabled people should never let their disabilities get in the way of their dreams.
"Don't sell yourself short, and try your best to build a happy family life," she said to others suffering from disabilities.
Zhang has a profound understanding of the difficulties faced by disabled people in China. She uses her position on the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference to call for improvements to facilities for disabled people and for the right of disabled people to drive.