Christine Ha: Two Years Later
When Christine Ha's story was published with the August 2012 DAISY Planet she was doing very well in the FOX Network's MasterChef Season 3 competition and was close to the finale. As it turned out, she made it to the final round and won — Christine is not a trained chef, and, she is blind. This young woman has achieved a great deal since that time, particularly in light of the fact that she said this in my interview with her: "[I did] not accept my vision loss as gracefully as I'd had hoped. It was a difficult and challenging period in my life." I thought therefore than an update on what this young woman has been up to was in order.
A TV Show Host: "Four Senses"
On her website in January 2014 Christine introduced "Four Senses", the TV cooking show she would be co-hosting with Carl Heinrich the winner of "Top Chef" Canada season 2. This cooking show is geared towards people with a visual disability and is aired on AMI (Accessible Media, Inc.) TV, a Canadian cable network designed to make television accessible to everyone, including those with a vision or hearing impairment via described audio and captioning. One of Christine's comments about this station is: "And that's where AMI comes in: to fill in those gaps of the television world for the viewer with special needs."
It is accessible, but AMI TV is a Canadian television station and is not available in the US. About this Christine writes:
"…I've had countless questions from my fellow Americans asking, 'How can we watch Four Senses in the U.S.?' Good question. We are still trying to figure that out ourselves, whether it means syndicating the show on an American network or streaming it online. Please be patient, as we are working on that. And remember, the more demand that's created for it, the more likely it will be made available. (Hint, hint.)
In the meantime, I've heard you can listen to Four Senses on the AMI podcast…"
The AMI TV Four Senses Episode Guide includes a description of each episode as well as downloadable recipes of the dishes Christine and Carl had prepared.
New York Times Best Selling Author
In addition to being a wonderful cook, Ha is also a writer. In May 2013 she published her first cookbook Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food; the Foreword is written by Chef Gordon Ramsay:
"Her signature Asian-influenced comfort-food appetizers, entrees and desserts demonstrate an innate connection to flavor and texture that I rarely experience in professional chefs, let alone amateur cooks." [Source: The blind cook]
Christine shares her experiences and thoughts on her website The blind cook. In one post "my cookbook is now accessible for those with vision loss" she talks about being asked if her new cookbook is accessible—her response is initially disconcerting to anyone who knows about accessible publishing options, but she turns it around nicely and lets her readers know that it available from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in braille and audio (NLS audio books are DAISY formatted). She even provides the braille and digital book numbers and a link to NLS for those who are not yet a member. Nicely done Christine!
She also writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and is an avid reader, using both the Learning Ally and NLS services.
Recipient of a 2014 Helen Keller Achievement Award
This year has been a big one for Christine. She is one of 3 people awarded the 2014 Helen Keller Achievement Award. These awards were established by AFB in 1994 to acknowledge extraordinary efforts and promote the achievements of individuals and organizations that have improved quality of life for all people with vision loss.
A Celebrity, an Advocate
In addition to her blog where she writes about what she has been doing and at the same time advocates for people with vision loss, Christine has more recently posted a number of YouTube videos. Episode 4 is entitled How the Blind Email, Tweet, and Blog (or "Yes, That's Really Me on Facebook!"). Those of you who read and enjoyed Christine's story will almost certainly enjoy hearing her talk on this subject and others.