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China Achieves Much in Assisting the Disabled
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China has achieved much in the past five years in assisting disabled people. The living conditions, educational achievements and employment levels of the disabled have all improved significantly and general attitudes towards them are changing with recognition being given to the valuable contribution they make to society and the country as a whole.


The Ministry of Health issued a document in August 2002 which emphasized the need to assist in the rehabilitation of the disabled. The document stated that by 2015 disability suffers would have access to rehabilitation services. The document defines the general aims of the initiative and offers general guidance on how disabled people can be assisted.


During the 1996-2000 period, 6.3 million disabled people were assisted in some way or another -- 24.3 percent more than had been envisaged. Within the total figure of those being assisted, 2.71 million cataract operations were carried out which was 35 percent more than planned; 150,000 people with poor eyesight were tested and supplied with visual aids -- one and a half times more than initially planned; more than 90,000 deaf children were taught how to communicate -- 21 percent more than planned; 5.39 million pieces of equipment were provided to the disabled -- twice the plan and 420,000 people with various difficulties received rehabilitation services.


The education system designed to assist disabled people has continually improved over the past five years, the quality of what is on offer has improved and wide range of activities have especially developed to meet their needs. In 2003, a document jointly published by China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF), Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health cancelled the former standard of physical fitness and set a new one more suitable for those with disabilities.


A notice released by the Ministry of Education said students with hearing problems didn't have to participate in the English "listening" test which forms part of the college entrance examination.


Over the five years the CDPF and Ministry of Education have developed various projects to help blind children and those with disabilities to access education and improve their standard of living.  The establishment of classes for deaf people at Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts and the special teaching school in Chongqing Normal University opened new doorways for disabled people in the western region of the country.


Eighty percent of children with eyesight problems have secured educational places and those with difficulties in oral communications or general intelligence have earned a similar success rate. In the past five years universities have recruited more than 16,000 disabled students with 90 percent of them passing the entrance examination. China now has 10 special education colleges.


The disabled persons' employment and social security situations have been improved. Over the past five years laws to protect and improve the rights of disabled people have been adopted and they provide a policy guarantee for them.


From 2001 to 2005, 2.58 million disabled people received vocational education and training. More than 1.6 million were helped in finding work -- an increase of 50 percent over the 1996-2000 period; around 7 million disabled people received various forms of social help and over 7 million were able to improve their lives with help from poverty relief projects. Up to the end of 2005 more than 4.2 million disabled people living in cities or towns were employed and around 17 million living in the countryside had found work.


Attitudes toward the disabled people have changed remarkably over the years, which indicates that modern civilization and society in general have developed significantly. The social administrative departments and public service organizations responsible for education, health, civil affairs, labor security, judicatory, culture, physical education and many others have paid more attention to the needs of disabled people and create equal and shared opportunities for them.


All circles of society have assisted disabled people in coping with difficulties they have in everyday life, for instances, general living conditions, access to medical treatment, education and employment. The construction of modern buildings with "disabled access" has greatly assisted the daily lives of these people.  


The legal system for the disabled has achieved many, very good things. Taking the Constitution as the core and the Law on Security for the Disabled as the basis, an advanced legal system catering for disabled people has been defined.


During the lawmaking process legislators pay particular attention to the views and opinions of disabled people. Some of their views have been adopted in the lawmaking process of Civil Servant Law, Law on Road Traffic Safety, Administrative Licensing Law and Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women. The country has also started to work on amending the Law on Security for the Disabled and constituting the statute on employment of disabled people.   


Being optimistic and self-sufficient many disabled people appear to want to constantly improve themselves and make a real contribution to their country's future. More and more disabled people are going to be in a position to earn a living and some, perhaps, become wealthy by their hard work.


Disabled people have already emerged in every walk of life and many more will follow. Some are representatives -- at all levels -- of the people' congress and at political consultative conference levels; some are athletes who've won honors for their country at international events and quite a number are involved in representative groups who look after the interests of the disabled. 


Up to the end of 2005, 28 provincial and municipal TV stations opened the news programs with sign language to assist people with hearing difficulties.  


Disabled athletes have so far won 676 gold medals in international competition. My Dream, a large-scale music and dance show created by the China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe has caught the imaginations of audiences at home and abroad. The troupe has been hugely received in more than 40 countries.


( by Zhou Jing, February 28, 2006)

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