Shanghai Daily - Shanghai,China
June 28, 2006.
CHINA will begin to install barrier-free facilities for the disabled in 100 cities over the next five years to make daily life and travel easier for the handicapped.
Only a small number of the country's 600 cities have begun making public places more wheelchair accessible and installing navigation aids for the blind, says a report on disabled people.
The report says construction of barrier-free facilities in cities still lags far behind the requirements of the disabled.
Stepping onto a bus, crossing the road when the light turns green or using a lavatory are things non-disabled people do without a second thought. "But for people with impaired sight and other physical disabilities, everything can be trying," 43-year-old blind masseur Yang Xinghua said.
Yang, who has worked as a masseur for 17 years, said Beijing has many more facilities for handicapped people than in the 1980s, when it was rare to see any handicapped person on the street.
"At that time, they stayed at home because of the inconvenience and awkward stares of people," Yang said.
Beijing is now one of 12 demonstration cities that are creating a no-barrier environment for the disabled. Other cities include Tianjin, Shanghai, Dalian, Qingdao, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou.
The report shows that by 2004, 24 percent of sidewalks had been installed with special tiles to aid the visually impaired in the 12 cities. Audio signals had been installed in 1,160 intersections to alert blind people when it was safe to cross the road.
Airports all over the country have been renovated with no-barrier facilities. Straight lifts and special entrances have been built for disabled passengers in subway stations in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Buses with lower boarding platforms have been put into use along certain routes in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou, the report says.
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