Feature: China's first government work report in Braille makes democracy touchable

(Xinhua) 09:17, March 07, 2024

BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- When the second session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) lifted its curtain at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday, Wang Yongcheng was presented with a special government work report -- a version in Braille, which is a historic first for the country's top legislature.

"It is a tangible experience of democracy," Wang said in an excited tone as his fingertips traced the raised dots.

Among the nearly 3,000 deputies to the 14th NPC who commenced their five-year term in 2023, Wang stands out as the sole individual with visual impairment.

Born in Ninghua County of Fujian Province in 1967, Wang lost his sight in an accident at the age of 18. Undeterred, he embarked on a challenging entrepreneurial journey by learning massage skills and conducting non-profit training. His efforts helped over 6,000 blind individuals become self-reliant.

Following his election as a deputy to the 14th NPC, disabled friends from across the country reached out to Wang, sharing their concerns and aspirations.

He delved into each message, conducted thorough investigations, and formulated his proposals.

At last year's NPC gathering, Wang submitted four suggestions, with concerns encompassing pressing issues faced by the disabled community, such as the employment and education of visually-impaired people, and the building of an accessible environment.

One of his proposals, focusing on providing large-print textbooks for low-vision students enrolled in regular schools, was later adopted during the legislative process of the country's law on building a barrier-free living environment, which took effect on Sept. 1, 2023.

In November last year, Wang received Braille versions of replies sent by authorities to suggestions he raised at the NPC, the first of its kind in the history of the NPC.

Upon receiving these documents, Wang said that he felt "extremely heartened."

"It reflects the NPC's full respect for the people and efforts in guaranteeing deputies' performance of duties in accordance with the law," said Wang.

The Braille versions of documents, which have provided strong support for Wang in performing his duties, were drafted by a translation team, set up for the first time, consisting of Braille experts and experienced editors from the China Disabled Persons' Federation and China Braille Press. The team members have been closely communicating with Wang and constantly made adjustments to both format and typographic design to accommodate Wang's needs.

"The new move is not only an active practice of the law on building a barrier-free living environment, but also a vivid reflection of the whole-process people's democracy," said Wo Shuping, editor-in-chief of China Braille Press.

"We hope these documents can help deputies like Wang better fulfill their duties through barrier-free reading," said Yin Menglan, a team member.

China has been strengthening efforts to create a better and happier life for people with disabilities. In October 2021, the Standing Committee of the NPC adopted a decision on ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.

The treaty, which aims to eliminate copyright-related obstacles for print-disabled people in obtaining works, took effect in China in May 2022 and involved a series of measures subsequently tailored to allow people with visual impairments to enjoy easier access to specially adapted books.

As a person with disabilities, Wang is dedicated to making the voices of China's 85 million people with disabilities heard, and especially, to allow the wishes of 17 million visually-impaired people to be seen.

This year, he brought two proposals: One focusing on improving the elderly care service system with attention to the special needs of disabled elderly individuals and the other on promoting the integrated development of disability services across the Taiwan Strait.

"To me, the greatest happiness is seeing my suggestions grow into visible and tangible welfare for the people," said Wang.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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