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Zhang Haidi: An extraordinary Woman

Four Americans women involved in politics, human rights and accessibility in our continent.


Zhang Haidi: An extraordinary Woman

Zhang Haidi was born in September 1955 in Jinan, Shandong Province. She became a paraplegic at age five. Due to pathological conditions in her blood vessels near the dura of her spine, she underwent six major operations to have six of her spinal plates removed between 1960 and 1976. As a result, she became paralyzed in her lower body.
Unable to attend school because of her disability, she taught herself to university level. She learned multiple foreign languages, including English, Japanese, German, and Esperanto, and became a translator and writer. In 1993, Jilin University awarded her a master’s degree in philosophy

She wrote many books, including Beautiful English, written in both Chinese and English. Her novel A Dream in Wheelchair has been published in Japan and Korea. She also translated many Western literary works into Chinese. Her translation of Ralph Helfer’s Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived won a national prize for translated works. She is a member of the China Writers Association and was a visiting scholar at the International Künstlerhaus Villa Concordia in Bamberg, Germany from 2007 to 2008.
In November 2008, she was elected Chairperson of China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF), succeeding Deng Pufang.
In 2013, the University of York awarded her an honorary doctorate degree.

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