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Airport facilities pass muster
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09:00, September 04, 2008

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· Paralympics
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After spending more than 12 million yuan ($1.75 million) on improving its facilities for the disabled, Beijing's Capital International Airport now meets international standards, its general manager Dong Zhiyi said yesterday.

As of Tuesday, the airport had welcomed more than 6,400 Paralympic Family members, including 1,324 in wheelchairs,

"The airport's barrier-free facilities have been fully tested," Dong said at a press conference.

"The airport now meets international standards," he said.

About 10,000 Paralympic Family members from 148 countries and regions, including 1,800 people in wheelchairs and 800 with visual handicaps will pass through the airport over the course of the Paralympics, which starts on Saturday, he said.

A raft of improvements has been made to help disabled travelers, Dong said.

For example, handrails and emergency alarms have been added throughout the airport, and all bathrooms now have a wheelchair-friendly cubicle, he said.

There are also 110 gender-free bathrooms for use by wheelchair-bound people whose carers are of the opposite sex, he said.

Also, at each of the airport's 153 boarding gates, a new system of flashing lights has been installed to indicate to deaf passengers when their flights are ready to board, Dong said.

Many of the changes made at the airport will remain in place after the Paralympic Games is finished later this month, Dong said.

Also, similar facilities for the disabled are likely to be introduced at airports across the country, Li Xiaomei, the spokeswoman for the Beijing Capital International Airport, told China Daily yesterday.

"We are now working on revisions to China's industry standards, and some of our measures and experiences are likely to be included within them," she said.

If the new standards are adopted, installing barrier-free facilities could become compulsory at all airports across the country, she said.

At present, such extensive facilities for the disabled are offered only at airports in Olympic and Paralympic host cities, she said.

Source: China Daily

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