China builds more barrier-free facilities for disabled

09:49, December 18, 2010      

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Lin Yong, born blind, has dreamed of walking freely by himself, without help from those warm-hearted individuals who would give him guidance.

"Many people would aid me outside, but still I hope I won't bring any trouble to others," Lin said.

The young man, who has lived in darkness for more than 30 years, felt that walking outside was becoming easier in recent years.

In Hefei, capital of southeast China's Anhui Province where Lin lives, more and more sidewalks are re-paved with Braille tiles that would aid the blind in walking.

Also, Lin found that traffic lights provide audio guidance when he was crossing the roads.

Moreover, the city's public bus operators began installing the first batch of Braille boards at stops in December this year.

"With these Braille signs, it is getting easier for the blind to know bus information and they don't have to repeatedly inquire," said Li Kewu with the Hefei Public Transportation Group.

Lin, as one of the 8.8 million visually impaired in China, is lucky since Hefei is one of the 100 pilot cities that first erected barrier-free facilities and support services.

Some 1,110 km of sidewalks in Hefei have been remolded with Braille tiles and more than 500 crossroads and crosswalks have traffic lights installed with audio warning devices, said Wang Bin, who is in charge of construction and installation of barrier-free facilities in the city.

All newly constructed buildings, airports, railway stations and bus stops are covered with barrier-free facilities, said Wang.

The Chinese government started a program at the end of 2007 to install barrier-free facilities and support services in 100 cities nationwide within three years.

From northeastern Dalian to southwestern Guiyang, barrier-free facilities with Braille signs and buttons and wheelchair slopes have been built.

In Guangzhou, where the 2010 Asian Para Games are being held, all parks, shopping centers and hotels, along with about 30 churches and mosques, have been created with barrier-free facilities.

Wang Naikun, executive vice president of the China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF), said at a recent press briefing that the program had assisted the disabled, and more of such facilities would enter the households of those in need.

However, the barrier-free facilities are sometimes, if not often, encroached upon by people who do not realize the importance of these services to the disabled.

For example, bicycles are often seen parked on sidewalks embedded with Braille tiles, making them impassable for the blind.

With the economic growth and fast urbanization in China, there will be greater demands from the disabled to participate in social affairs in a more active way, said Yang Yun, deputy president of the Hefei Disabled Persons' Federation.

"We need to raise the public's awareness over the importance of barrier-free facilities and create a more comfortable environment for the disabled," Yang said.

Source: Xinhua
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