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Disabled want to remove barriers of inconvenience

Updated: 2013-11-07 23:52
By Yang Yao ( China Daily)

In 2008, Beijing had built more than 14,000 barrier-free facilities — buildings that can be entered and used by people with disabilities — to meet the requirements for the Olympic Games.

It built more barrier-free facilities in that year than it did in the 20 years before the Games. Today, all of the facilities, which include lanes and ramps for the blind and disabled, are in disrepair or disuse.

Residents of Beijing say the sidewalk lanes and ramps are not being used and need to be fixed. Media reports say some lanes are sometimes blocked or are difficult to navigate.

Deng Dajiang, who relies on a wheelchair to commute to work every day, said "all of the money spent to bring (disabled people) convenience seems futile".

In 2008, Beijing introduced 70 taxis to accommodate people with physical disabilities, but Deng said he has not been able to find one. Deng said he has called and tried to book such a taxi but was told they are now out of service.

On Thursday, Bo Shaoye, an official with China Disabled Persons' Federation, said the nation must create more barrier-free facilities. He called for regulations to create more convenience for people with disabilities.

Bo said the nation's top legislature will update three regulations next year in an effort to create a more inclusive society. He also said the federation, along with several government departments, will begin inspections of existing barrier-free facilities around the country.

"People who destroy the facilities, or those who are responsible for maintaining them but are found negligent, will be punished," Bo said.

A new series of laws to help people with disabilities will go into effect next year, he said.

Wu Wenyan, an official with Beijing Disabled Persons' Federation, said the problem with neglected facilities in the capital lies in management. She said the city is trying to remedy the issue by meting out responsibilities.

"The biggest barrier for us comes from prejudice," said Li Hongwei, president of China Association of the Blind.

He pointed out that guide dogs for the blind are still rejected in public spaces.

"They are the safest tool for us to travel. But our needs are still neglected by society," Li said. "We wish to see a more caring and inclusive society that respects our rights and treats us as equals."

Lu Yong, vice-president of the China Disabled Persons' Federation, said earlier this month that society's attitude toward people with disabilities hinges on pity rather than caring.

"Respecting their rights is a way to respect ourselves," Lu said.

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