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Disabled man compensated for missing train in C China


08:32, August 09, 2012

ZHENGZHOU - A disabled man who was unable to board a train in Central China's Henan province on Monday because of a failure to unlock the station's wheelchair passages has been compensated for the incident.

Wang Jinlei, who lost the use of both of his legs to polio, received 3,000 yuan ($471) from the station in accordance with a national regulation on improving accessibility for disabled people that went into effect less than one week before the incident.

Wang was scheduled to leave the Zhengzhou Railway Station at 1:49 pm, bound for the city of Chongqing in Southwest China. Wang said he arrived at the station at 1:00 pm, but was unable to enter the locked wheelchair passages, thus causing him to miss his train.

"I even dialed the number on the note posted outside, but no one answered for half an hour," said Wang, adding that he believes dereliction of duty is to blame for the incident. He asked for compensation the same day, receiving it along with an apology from the station's management committee.

The national regulation states parking lots, commercial centers, living quarters, transportation facilities and other public infrastructure facilities must be accessible for disabled people, adding that the owners or managers of the facilities should maintain them and compensate disabled people who suffer injury or loss of property due to improper maintenance.

Since the station's dereliction of duty caused Wang to miss his train, it therefore has the responsibility to compensate him for his loss, said a committee official surnamed Shen, adding that the station will take action to make sure its handicapped-accessible facilities are properly maintained.

Although accessibility for disabled people has improved in recent years, some problems remain, Wang said.

In the city of Hangzhou, the provincial capital of East China's Zhejiang province, older buildings, including hospitals, markets, libraries, schools and governments, have no handicapped-accessible facilities. Attempts to design handicapped facilities in new buildings have been met with technical difficulties.

Building new facilities and purchasing equipment for disabled people, as well as renovating existing facilities, is incredibly expensive and time-consuming, which has discouraged some companies and government departments from making the changes, the Hangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau said.

"The country and society have offered more economic support for the disabled, but they should really be paying more attention to their living standards," said Zhou Wei, a professor at Sichuan University.

"People's consciousness, systems and infrastructure facilities are not enough. There are some weaknesses in regulation and it's still difficult for disabled people to protect their own rights," Zhou added.

Wang's case will serve not only to encourage other disabled people to demand fair access, but also remind relevant departments to make more efforts to cater to disabled people, said Lu Jun, a staff member working for a non-profit organization in Beijing that fights for discouraging discrimination against the disabled.

Official statistics show that China has 85 million people with some form of disability. Last year, the government issued a five-year blueprint for improving the lives of the disabled.

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