China aims to help 50,000 blind people to become massagists in five years starting from 2006 to improve their living conditions through providing training and other forms of support, according to a national program on people with disabilities.
"That will push the total number of blind massagists to 140,000," says the program on development of the cause of people with disabilities in the 11th Five-Year Guideline period (2006-2010).
According to the program, issued Thursday with the approval of the central government, 40,000 of the new massagists will be working in medical fields while 10,000 working in general health care fields.
Massage is believed to be the most suitable job for people with visual disabilities, the number of which is estimated at 8.77 million in China.
Earning more than 1,000 yuan (around US$125) a month in some cases, blind people with massage skills enjoy relatively high living standards among people with disabilities.
Training blind massagists is just part of the national effort to help China's 60 million people with disabilities acquire working capabilities, which is "the main route for these people to improve their living conditions, realize independence and display their value in life", according to the program.
According to the program, China provided job training and practical skill training to 5.73 million people with disabilities in the past five years. Two million rural people and 1.67 million urban people with disabilities found jobs during this period.
The program has set the target of helping another 750,000 urban people with disabilities to find jobs and keeping the employment level of rural people with disabilities at 18 million in the next five years.
To make it possible, these people will be universally granted job training if they want to take any jobs, says the program.
"We need to make great efforts to solve the sticking difficulties of people with disabilities and also to promote all-round personal development of them," Chinese Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said Thursday at a national conference on work concerning people with disabilities held in Beijing.
Hui, who heads a committee under the State Council on work concerning people with disabilities, called it part of the valuable experience China has got in caring for people with disabilities.
According to Hui, other parts of the experience are integrating work concerning people with disabilities into overall economic and social development plan and meanwhile adopting special policies and measures to support development of cause of such people; adhering to the dominant role of the government in such affairs and meanwhile giving full play to participation of various sides of the society.
Hui said such practices, which have proven effective, should be carried forward and improved in future work.
At the end of 2005, 18 million rural people with disabilities had jobs while 4.64 million urban people with disabilities had jobs.
(Xinhua News Agency June 9, 2006)