IV. Protection of Disabled Children

China has all along attached great importance to protecting disabled children, making great efforts to create favorable conditions for their survival and development.

Protection of Disabled Children's Rights and Interests

The Chinese Government has devoted much attention to guaranteeing the rights and interests of disabled children. Among children aged 14 and under, there are over 9 million disabled, accounting for 2.66 percent of children of the same age group in China. The Chinese Constitution and relevant laws contain clear statements regarding the rights and interests of the disabled, including disabled children. The Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons contains all-inclusive, systematic provisions guaranteeing the legitimate rights and interests of the disabled. It states clearly that the disabled enjoy equal rights with other citizens in all spheres: political, economic, cultural, social and family life; that discrimination, insult and harassment against the disabled are prohibited; that the state should develop disability prevention programs; and that the rights of the disabled to rehabilitation, education, labor, entertainment and welfare should be protected. While all these provisions also apply to disabled children, the law includes specific statements on special protection of disabled children.

In order to protect rights and interests of the disabled and promote their cause, the China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF), an organization that represents the disabled, serves their interests and administrates the work concerning the disabled, has been established with the approval of the Chinese Government. One of its principal tasks is to protect the lawful rights and interests of disabled children. Also, local disabled persons' federations at the provincial (autonomous regional and municipal), prefectural and county levels have been established to serve the disabled, including disabled children in the region, and administrate their affairs.

Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation

Following the policy of putting prevention rst, the Chinese Government has adopted a series of measures to prevent children's congenital disability.

China has expended great eorts in strengthening the immunization program and in planned, large-scale replenishment of iodine for children. In order to further control endemic diseases and curb environmental pollution, it has taken effective measures such as replenishing iodine, improving soil and purifying water in regions where goiter, cretinism and Kaschin-Beck disease are rampant. The Marriage Law, the Law on Health Protection of Mothers and Infants and relevant regulations for preventing congenital disability have been strictly implemented by governments and medical and health institutions at all levels. In order to curb harmful heredity and improve prenatal, birthing and postnatal education and administration, services like premarital check-ups and education, prenatal examinations, heredity consultancy, birthing-process care, mother-baby care and early education have been strengthened.

The Chinese Government has expended great efforts and attained remarkable achievements in helping disabled children recover maximum health and in enhancing their abilities to participate in social life.

China has actively developed the ``Three Recoveries'' program (rectifying polio sequelae, training deaf children in hearing and speech and performing cataract operations). By the end of 1995, China had rectified 360,000 children of polio sequelae (a success rate of 98 percent), helped more than 60,000 deaf children recover their hearing and speech abilities (10 percent of which had entered regular kindergartens and elementary schools to receive regular education), had provided 30,000 poor-sighted children with sight aids and helped 100,000 mentally retarded children enhance their cognitive capacity and self-suciency. At present, China has established the National Rehabilitation Research Center for Deaf Children, in addition to 26 provincial-level rehabilitation centers for deaf children and over 1,000 rehabilitation stations, kindergartens and training classes for disabled children.

Community rehabilitation service systems for disabled children also have been set up. China has fully used the urban-rural three-level network of health services to develop community rehabilitation, helping most disabled children in grassroots areas enjoy basic rehabilitation services. Moreover, under the leadership of local governments at different levels, community rehabilitation leading groups have been founded, consisting of public health departments, civil administration departments, disabled persons' federations and other relevant departments, which coordinate and cooperate with each other to mutually formulate community rehabilitation plans and manage their implementation.

In 1982, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs started to cooperate with the UNICEF in the Community Rehabilitation for Disabled Children project. By the end of 1994, the rehabilitation network for disabled children covered 32 cities and counties in 23 provinces of the country and systematically trained disabled children's parents and rehabilitation instructors. These efforts were successful in effectively improving the management of the rehabilitation work for disabled children.

Education for Disabled Children

Regarding disabled children's education, the Education Law, the Compulsory Education Law, the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons and the Regulations for Disabled Persons' Education clearly and completely state the duties, characteristics, guiding principles of development, channels for running schools and methods of instruction, etc. According to relevant laws and regulations, the education of disabled children is compulsory.

After years of efforts, China has formed a compulsory education set-up for disabled children, which takes special-education schools as the backbone and special-education classes attached to, and attendance of individual disabled students in, ordinary schools as the main body. By the end of 1995, China had set up 1,379 special-education schools for the disabled, an increase of 400 percent over 1980; there were also 6,510 special-education classes attached to ordinary schools with 296,000 disabled students (including those attending regular schools), an increase of 800 percent over 1980. In 1995 the national average school enrollment rate of blind, deaf and mentally retarded children reached 60 percent; in the economically developed areas enrollment reached 80 percent.

Social Environment

The Chinese Government has done a great deal of work to mobilize various circles in society to care for, in various manners, the development of disabled children, to greatly encourage the spirit of unceasing self-improvement among disabled children and to advocate the social virtues of unity, friendship and mutual aid. The Chinese media actively reports on the life conditions of disabled children and the work concerning the disabled. Virtually all radio and TV stations offer specific programs for disabled children, compounded with sign language and captions. To create a favorable social environment for disabled children's survival and development, China has worked out and gradually implemented Standards for the Design of Urban Roads and Buildings for the Disabled's Convenience, which require obstacle-free structures when municipal works and various buildings are constructed.

Since 1991, the Chinese Government has legally established National Helping-the-Disabled Day on the third Sunday in May every year. Children actively take part in Young Pioneers Helping the Disabled activities while young people enthusiastically participate in Volunteers Helping the Disabled activities. Meantime, the broad masses of people all over the country also widely participate in various activities to help the disabled. Closely looked after by the government, disabled children have also been receiving many types of help and services from various circles in society.