VI. The Rights and Interests of the Disabled

China attaches great importance to the development of services for the disabled, and protects all their rights.

The legal and policy guarantees for the rights and interests of disabled people have been enhanced. In 2004, an amendment of the "Law on Protection of the Disabled" was started, aiming to further improve the legal guarantee for the rights and interests of the disabled and for the development of undertakings relating to the disabled. At present, most counties, towns and townships in China have formulated preferential policies for the disabled and regulations on aiding them. In the rural areas, the disabled enjoy reduction of or exemption from taxes and fees. In September 2004, the State Council officially approved a second national sample survey regarding the disabled people, which would gather basic information on their present situations, and provide a detailed, reliable basis for the government to formulate and implement laws, regulations, development plans, policies and measures concerning the disabled, to strengthen and improve services for them, and to help them be better off. The government issued the "Opinions on Further Enhancing the Work of Aiding Impoverished Disabled People," which provides an overall plan for the aid, social security, employment, education, rehabilitation and rights protection for the impoverished disabled people, and which promotes settlement of their problems in basic production and living. In 2004, China Welfare Fund for the Disabled donated 1 million yuan and cooperated with the China Disabled Persons' Federation in launching the campaign of "aiding the disabled in protection of their rights," providing subsidies for handling cases involving disabled people who needed legal aid. Legal service and aid organizations provided services and aid to the disabled totaling 130,000 person-times, thus safeguarding their legal rights and interests.

The socialized rehabilitation service system has been continuously improved, key rehabilitation projects implemented effectively, and disabled people's self-reliance in daily life, social adaptability and living qualities enhanced. In 2004, over 3.30 million disabled people overcame their disabilities to varying degrees. Of them, 580,000 people suffering from cataracts received operations to recover their sight, among whom over 100,000 impoverished received free operations; nearly 30,000 people suffering from poor sight were provided with visual aids; 24,000 deaf children received training in hearing and speaking; over 80,000 physically disabled persons and children suffering from cerebral palsy and mental disabilities participated in rehabilitation training; over 2.50 million people suffering from mental diseases underwent medical treatment and rehabilitation training; more than 3,900 persons suffering from malformation caused by leprosy received plastic surgical operations; and over 1 million devices for aiding the disabled were supplied.

The disabled persons' education and employment have been better guaranteed. Education for disabled children has been included in the state compulsory education system, and their enrolment rate been risen continuously. In 2004, 4,112 disabled students were admitted to institutions of higher learning, 543,000 disabled people received vocational education and training, and over 40,000 impoverished disabled students received financial assistance. In urban areas, 305,000 disabled people were newly employed; in rural areas, 16.241 million disabled people engaged in crop farming, fish breeding and poultry raising, or household handicraft making. The rate of employment for the disabled has exceeded 80 percent.

Social security for the disabled has been better implemented. Large numbers of disabled people have benefited from the minimum living standard program. Classified assistance has been carried out in some areas, where special aid is provided for disabled people with excessive difficulties, such as seriously disabled people or families with more than one disabled members, by raising their minimum living guarantee standard and level. In some urban areas, impoverished disabled people who are self-employed are entitled to subsidies for participating in basic old-age insurance. At present, 4.469 million disabled people in China are provided with social security of various forms. The aid-the-poor development program for the rural areas continues to provide special aid to the impoverished disabled people, and people from all walks of life in the society have assisted impoverished disabled people in various ways. In 2004, 1.27 million disabled people no longer had the problem of having enough to eat and wear. To improve the housing conditions of impoverished disabled people, the central treasury appropriated 50 million yuan for subsidies and the local governments at various levels funded 277 million yuan in total to renovate the houses of over 20,000 households, benefiting 27,000 disabled people.

The cultural and sports life of the disabled people has become increasingly rich and varied. In cultural centers, libraries, gymnasiums and stadiums, more and more conveniences and services have been provided for disabled people. TV and radio stations, newspapers and magazines give wide coverage to the lives of disabled people, and launched special programs or opened special columns. A large number of publications for and about disabled people have been published, and many films and TV plays about their life produced. The Sixth Exhibition of Programs for Disabled People of People's Radio Stations, the Fourth National Joint Performance of Schools of Special Education, and the National Exhibition of Fine Arts of Schools of Special Education were held. The China Disabled People's Arts Troupe made a performance tour in seven countries, including Switzerland and Turkey, displaying their talents and dynamic spirit. The Chinese Fraternity of Disabled Writers has been founded. In the 12th Paralympics in Athens, Chinese disabled athletes won 63 gold, 46 silver and 32 bronze medals, ranking the first in total number of gold and total number of medals. Their perseverance and sportsmanship won praise of people from various countries.

A social environment of equal participation, care and help for disabled people has taken shape. On May 16, 2004, the 14th "National Help-the-Disabled Day," a rich variety of practical, effective activities was launched all over the country. Help-the-disabled activities in the society continued, including "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," solving many practical difficulties for them. More than 50,000 liaison offices of help-the-disabled volunteers have been established throughout the country. Headway has been made in building a barrier-free environment 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 public premises in the large and medium-sized cities. Twelve cities launched the campaign of building a model barrier-free city. Many news programs on TV are with sign language. More and more TV programs and films have subtitles. All these have made it more convenient for disabled people to come out of home to participate in information exchange and social life and enjoy public services. An environment where the disabled people are understood, respected, cared about and helped in the society has gradually taken shape.