VII. The Rights and Interests of the Disabled

There are 60 million disabled people in China, accounting for about 5 percent of the total population. The Chinese government puts great stress on the protection of the rights of the disabled, and is going all out to implement the Outline of the Tenth Five-Year Plan for the Disabled in China (2001-2005). By way of taking important measures such as improving the legal system, implementing state programs, mobilizing social forces and providing equal opportunities, the Chinese government endeavors to give special help to the disabled, establish and gradually improve the system for the protection of human rights of the disabled, encourage them to participate in social life on an equal footing, and share the material and cultural achievements of society.

The state will continuously improve its socialized rehabilitation service system, implement the key rehabilitation projects, and help disabled people to improve their physical functions, self-reliance in daily life, and social adaptability.

In 2003, a large number of disabled people overcame their handicaps to varying degrees: 570,000 people suffering from cataracts received operations to recover their sight; 31,000 people suffering from poor sight were provided with visual aids; 18,000 deaf children received training in hearing and speaking; 77,000 physically handicapped persons and children suffering from cerebral palsy and mental handicaps participated in rehabilitation training; 2.43 million people suffering from serious mental diseases underwent comprehensive medical treatment and rehabilitation training; more than 3,800 persons suffering from leprosy-related handicaps received corrigent surgical operations; and a total of 1.22 million devices for aiding the disabled were supplied.

The disabled persons' right to receive education has been better protected. The Chinese government has included education for handicapped children in the state compulsory education system, and implemented such education according to overall planning.

Currently, the number of special education schools for blind, deaf and mentally handicapped children has reached 1,655, and that of special education classes attached to ordinary schools is 3,154, with a total student body of 577,000 in both.

Some disabled students from poor families have received financial support. More than 10,000 handicapped children, for example, have been given financial aid for schooling under the two programs "Aid the Disabled for Schooling" and "Enrolling Blind Children for Schooling in the Central and Western Regions." In 2003, more than 3,000 disabled students were admitted to institutions of higher learning, and 490,000 disabled people went in for vocational education and training.

The state protects the rights of the disabled to labor and social security. According to statistics, now 1.09 million disabled people are employed in urban entities specially set up for the handicapped; 1.236 million are employed by social sectors under specified apportioning; and still another 1.7 million work on their own account or find employment in entities organized by themselves of their own accord.

In rural areas, 16.85 million disabled people engage in crop cultivation, fish breeding and poultry raising or household handicraft making. The rate of employment for the disabled has increased year by year. In 2003, 1.23 million poverty-stricken disabled people in rural areas no longer had the problem of having enough to eat and wear through the help-the-poor projects.

At present, there are 2.59 million disabled people in China who benefit from the minimum living standard program. Four hundred and forty thousand disabled people live in welfare homes or homes for the aged, or enjoy the government-sponsored "five guarantees" (of food, clothing, medical care, housing and burial expenses) program, or live at separate homes of residents having regular links with welfare homes or homes for the aged. Some 2.46 million disabled people receive temporary relief or subsidies and 1.03 million are covered by social security schemes.

The cultural and sports life of the disabled has become increasingly rich and active. In cultural centers, libraries, gymnasiums and stadiums, more and more conveniences and services have been provided for disabled people. Nationwide, 1,618 cultural venues for the disabled and 131 art troupes made up of disabled people have been established. TV and radio stations, newspapers and magazines give wide coverage to the lives of disabled people, including special programs and topics.

A national comprehensive sports training center for the disabled is being in preparation for construction. In 2003, China successfully held the Sixth National Sports Meet for the Disabled. Besides, disabled athletes from China have won 177 gold medals in important international sports meets.

The state endeavors to create a social environment of care and help for the disabled. The National Help-the-Disabled Day, the third Sunday of May each year, has been observed for 13 years, with a rich variety of activities. In recent years, help-the-disabled activities in various forms have been carried out, such as "Volunteers for Helping the Disabled," "Red Scarf Movement for Helping the Disabled," "Cultural Circles' Help for the Disabled," "Help for the Disabled from Science and Technology Circles" and "Legal Assistance for the Disabled."

More than 40,000 liaison offices of help-the-disabled volunteers have been established throughout the country. Today, the number of registered young volunteers is upwards of 1.86 million.

Much headway has been made in building easy environments for the disabled. A large number of sloping passages, paths for the blind, handrails and audio traffic signs and other facilities for the disabled persons' convenience have been either built or renovated on the major roads, in shopping centers, hospitals, hotels, cinemas, theaters, museums, airports, railway stations and residential areas in the large and medium-sized cities. Many news programs on TV are accompanied by sign language. More and more TV programs and films have subtitles.

For years, the great efforts and achievements made by China for the protection of the human rights of the disabled have won wide attention and appreciation from the United Nations and the international community.