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Easy access for the disabled to the Paralympic Games
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By Zhang Yunxing
China.org.cn staff reporter

After watching the Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony and events on TV, seventy-year-old Wang Shufen had a dream. She wanted to go to the National Stadium (commonly called Bird's Nest) in her wheelchair to watch a Paralympics competition. Today, her dream has come true.

"I can't believe this is true. Three hours ago I was at home, and now I'm here with all these others watching Paralympic Games competitions," Wang said with a smile. "The volunteers and subway and bus workers were really helpful. Without them, I would never have made it".

Getting to the Paralympics venues

A barrier-free sign in a subway station in Beijing.

A barrier-free sign in a subway station in Beijing. [Xinhua]

During the Paralympic Games, the Beijing Subway Company is providing special services for people with disabilities. They only have to call the subway service hotline (6834 5678) to tell the subway company when they expect to arrive at the station and where they plan to go, and subway workers or volunteers will wait for them at the entrance and assist them to their destination. Although the service needs more investment and manpower, according to a subway company official who declined to give his name, the Municipal Government has promised to make it a long-term policy.

Braille instruction in a subway station in Bejing.

Braille instruction in a subway station in Bejing. [Xinhua]

According to Liu Zhi, spokesman for the Beijing Paralympic Games, the Organizing Committee has provided wheelchair users with 70 barrier-free taxis during the Paralympics, accepting phone appointments on 961001. Beijing also has 2,835 low-floor barrier-free buses and 600 barrier-free buses for the disabled.

Inside the venues

A barrier-free toilet inside the Bird's Nest.

A barrier-free toilet inside the Bird's Nest.  

Disabled people in the Paralympics venues can easily locate and access various barrier-free facilities. The Bird's Nest has reserved 200 seats with a good view for spectators in wheelchairs. The section is easy to reach by dedicated lifts. People with hearing difficulties can use audiphones and a radio broadcast system interface provided by the stadium. There are special toilets designed for disabled people in the Spectator Service Areas on every floor of the stadium.

Moving around the Olympic Park

The Organizing Committee has provided 50 battery-powered cars in the Olympic Park to transport disabled or elderly people from one venue to another.

(China.org.cn, September 9, 2008)

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