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Beijing Subways Improve Access for Handicapped
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Work will start in Beijing this month to make the city's subway stations more convenient for the handicapped.


The focus of the work on the city's No. 1 and No. 2 subway lines will be restrooms, tactile paths for the blind, telephones, signs and elevators.


Xizhimen Station, on the No. 2 line, will be the first to be renovated, with the entire project scheduled for completion by the end of next year.


Basins in the restrooms of the 30 subway stations will be lowered to facilitate use by people in wheelchairs. Railings will be installed on both sides of every lavatory.


The height of public telephones in the stations will also be lowered to one meter.


Tactile paths for the blind and partially sighted will be laid on all walkways in subway stations.


Signs will be installed to indicate clearly seating that is designated for the disabled. Some signs indicating directions and locations will include Braille.


Xizhimen Station will also install a special lift so that people in wheelchairs can get from one floor to another with the push of a button. It will be the first of its kind in China.


Sources with the Beijing Urban Construction Design Institute said that the blueprints for the project have been completed.


The whole renovation project will cost more than 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million), including 500,000 yuan (US$60,000) for the work at Xizhimen.


Work will be done at night and the operation of the two subway lines will not be affected.


As the first two subway lines built in Beijing, the No. 1 and No. 2 lines have been operational for more than 30 years.


The Beijing Municipal People's Congress -- the city's legislature -- adopted the Beijing Regulation on Construction and Management of Barrier-free Facilities in April. The regulation, which came into effect in May, is the first local legislation ever enacted on this issue in China.


It requires public transport facilities to take the lead in improving access and convenience for the handicapped. Hospitals, banks, public toilets and parks are also included.


China's first tactile path for the blind was installed on Beijing's Landianchang Street in 1988. More than 3,000 buildings have so far been renovated to make them more convenient for the handicapped, while 808 kilometers of tactile paths and 200 barrier-free public toilets have been built.


Among Beijing's population of 14.7 million, 622,000 are handicapped and 1.9 million are senior citizens.


(China Daily August 17, 2004)

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