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New Beijing court caters for physically-challenged
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Disabled local Beijing resident Qi Baolin became on Tuesday the very first to experience the barrier-free facilities at the a court near the Paralympic village, which is said to be the city's first disable-friendly court.

A stroke left Qi, 59, paralyzed in his left arm and leg. He was in court to testify in the case against his former employer, Beijng Dachao Commercial Hotel, which neglected to make payments into his social security fund when he worked there from Dec 2004 to April l, 2005.

The hotel, later renamed the Beihu No.9 Commercial Hotel, claimed there was no tangible record of Qi having worked at the hotel during that period.

As both parties required further proof, the court ruled that there would be a second hearing at a later date.

The barrier-free facilities in the courtroom of the commissary court of Chaoyang District People's Court during the 40-minute hearing were a great help, Qi said.

"The facilities enabled me to concentrate entirely on the hearing," he said

The court has seats equipped with metal supports, disabled toilets and ramps.

Disable people's needs were taken into account in the court's design, Qian Yixin, head judge at the court, said. "The first- floor layout of the courtroom includes accessible barrier-free departments, such as for file registration," Qian said.

The court also provides sign language services for the deaf, and a visiting case registration service for people with limited mobility.

So far 10 deaf people have made use of the sign language services to register their cases, the official said.

Its Foreign-Interests-Related Courtroom has a 27-seat gallery installed with a three-track simultaneous interpretation system.

Almost 70 percent of Olympics-related cases, such as personal injury, property damage and labor disputes, were heard in the courtroom last month, Qian said.

(China Daily September 4, 2008)

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