Taufik Faturohman: An Inspiring Lecturer with Low Vision Eyesight

Taufik Faturohman is a lecturer at the ITB School of Business and Management, and is a member of the Business and Financial Risk Expertise Group. Taufik has a special condition when caused by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) he experienced. RP is a degenerative eye disease that attacks the retina. This disease is genetic and causes severe visual impairment and even blindness. At present the vision condition is around 5%.

Taufik graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Materials Engineering in 1998. After graduating starting a business in the field of plastic waste treatment, Taufik decided to continue his studies in the ITB MBA program, discussing his improved vision. After completing the MBA program, Taufik joined SBM ITB as a case writer. In 2008, Taufik was assigned to run a Doctoral program at Curtin Business School, Curtin of Technology, Western Australia, on a scholarship from Putera Sampoerna Foundations.

The Doctoral Program issues something that is easy to do first with very little vision requirements. Two years ago in a foreign country, Taufik really struggled, both inside and outside the studio. Everything is new and all must be done alone. Although Alhamdulillah, there are many colleagues and friends who are always ready to help. Many tricks that he did to make his activities easier, including:
1. Store items in a place that is easily visible and easy to chat.
2. While waiting for the bus, he will ask for help from others to tell the bus number that passes. Actually the number is quite large, plastered on the windshield, but it still doesn’t look resistant. Automatically he should not be shy or reluctant to ask. But this way he can get acquainted with many people. Male, female, old or young. Not only local residents, but also residents and migrants from various parts of the world. From workers, students, to ex-asylum seekers. Very interesting. But most interestingly, it’s nice to meet people invited from a city or country with a strong soccer tradition. Waiting for a bus feels bad to be approved. But if there is no one at the bus stop, releasing him will stop all passing buses.

3. He tried to memorize the situation in places he often visited. His position, the surrounding trees, anything that makes it easy for him to identify the place. For example, the supervisor’s room is the third door to the elevator. So he counted the door, not reading the name on the door of his room, because it was difficult to read it. Believe it or not, he memorized the number of stairs and stairs along the main main campus road. The goal is that he does not fall when passing through the stairs when he must be somewhere immediately.

Taufik memorized number of stairs in front of SBM ITB Building

4. When making a research presentation, he must understand the material very well, because he cannot rely on the writing on the slide. Even if he can read it, it will take a long time. So at the very least, he should memorize the title of each slide, or write the title with an extra large font, so that it’s easier to read. In explaining it, he had to improvise a lot. This he did when teaching at SBM.
5. Pray a lot and ask for prayer, so that God makes things easier for him. 

There are still many tricks and routines that he does to simplify his activities. Most of the time it works. However, it is not uncommon to fail too. Often he could not find the item he kept because he forgot where to store it. Or take the bus wrong. Or mistakenly entered the room. He even went into the women’s restroom wrongly. That was an honest mistake. Crashing into something (someone), falling down a ladder, or tripping is normal for him. The most severe only bruises, small cuts, or torn clothing. In a dark place he could barely see anything. In such situations he must be led or walk very slowly while groping. But he is still grateful because many people can not see at all.

When submitting an application to take a PhD program at Curtin Business School, he did not mention his poor vision. He does not feel disabled. At that time he was very confident that he would pass this doctoral program well, because he had already obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree from ITB, one of the best educational institutions in Indonesia. Self-confidence that turns out to be excessive, even approaches arrogance.

On campus he gets the support he needs. He has supervisors who are very competent and understanding. Later, Taufik was also advised to consult with a disability counselor. Initially he was reluctant to do so because he was not sure they could help solve the problem. And once again he does not feel disabled. But apparently, a lot of assistance and facilities they provide to assist their activities, especially in studies and research. At the Robertson Library located on the main campus, there is a special room provided for students with special conditions like himself. He just realized, apparently he was not alone. This room is truly exclusive. In front of the door of this room there is an alias scanner to scan student cards. The door to this room will only open when accessed by a student card that has been given security clearance.

In this room there are many sophisticated tools. There is a type of projector that can display hard copy books or text on the screen. There are also computers that can display interfaces with magnifications and colors that we can set. This computer can even read what is listed on the monitor, including reading documents in the form of soft copy. Not enough with that, he is also equipped with ZoomText, a software that can make his PC more intelligent. As smart as a computer in the library that can be adjusted magnification and contrast, and he ordered to read what was on the screen. His laptop became able to read and talk. Still not finished there. He also lent an electronic magnifier. Tiny tool that turned out to cost almost ten million rupiah. This tool called SmartView really helped him in reading books and other forms of hard copy. Something that was very difficult to do, even with the help of glasses.

ZoomText and SmartView really helped him, so Taufik didn’t need to deliberately come to the library just to read. Thank God, he received a lot of help. From the campus both at Curtin and ITB, sponsors, supervisors, friends, family, even from strangers. Of course, support from parents with prayers that can vibrate the sky. Without understating all that, Taufik received extraordinary support from his beloved wife. He tirelessly and with almost unlimited patience so faithfully accompanied him. Not only morally encouraging, he also helped Taufik’s research. He is a good partner in discussions, reliable typists, and painstaking data input.

Teaching in Economic subjects class

Aside from studies, Taufik is also active in various social activities. Not only because it was required by the sponsors, but because Taufik could not be separated from social activities. He had participated in Curtin Volunteer activities, in the “posse operation” to relocate kangaroos. He was also a lecturer at the Al Qur’an Education Park at Curtin University Mushalla. During his studies in Perth, Taufik was assigned several times as an MC at the Eid and Eid al-Adha prayers held by the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Western Australia. He was also given the mandate as Secretary General of the Perth Indonesian Study Association (PPIP).

Despite all its limitations, Taufik finally was able to complete his studies and obtain a Doctorate, the highest academic degree with excellent results. Everyone has their own exams and problems. But Taufik is convinced that God will not burden His servants beyond his abilities. He often remembers what Ali ibn Abi Talib’s friend said, “… Don’t tell God I have a problem, but say to the problem I HAVE GOD ALL THE EVERYTHING”.