There are more than 85 million disabled persons in China, of which more than 17.5 million are visually impaired (including blind persons with multiple disabilities).
China’s “13th Five-Year Plan” lasts from 2015 to 2020.Its overall aimis to build acomprehensive well-off society in an all-round way. In this process, the Chinese government attaches great importance to the disabled groups. President Xi Jinping pointed out: “To achieve a moderately prosperous society in all respects, no disabled person shall be left behind.” To this end, the Chinese government has formulated a series of major policies that benefit disabled persons, such as the Outline of the“13th Five-Year Plan” to Accelerate the Well-off Process for the Disabled.To achieve this, we havemade development plans in various fields, such associal security, poverty alleviation and rehabilitation,benefiting all of thedisabled persons, including the blind.
In terms of social security, a social welfare systemwas implemented throughout the country in 2016, including care subsidies for severely disabled persons and living allowances for disabled persons living in poverty.We helped disabled persons in rural areas get rid of poverty through various measures such policies to guarantee basic living, industry support, one to one help and establish archives for targeted disabled persons in order to achieve effective results. Wealso provided fundto support poverty-stricken disabled personsin carrying out renovation of their dilapidated houses.
In the aspect of education, the Chinese governmentrevised Regulation on Education of Persons with Disabilities in 2017. The Regulation puts education rights of disabled students as well as justice in a prominentposition by providing“ forbidding any kinds of discrimination to education based on a student’s disability”. The regulation defines the development direction for education of disabled students by promoting the concepts of equalization and inclusive education, as well as policy of zero refusal to school enrollment and education support. The Chinese government has implemented two development plans on special education, i.e. the Promotion Plan on Special Education (2014-2016) and the Second Stage of Promotion Plan on Special Education (2017-2020), which have significantly improved the quality ofeducation of disabled students and increased their enrollment. China also issued two mandates to strengthen vocational education for disabled people, vigorously develop high education for disabled students based on vocational education. By 2016, the enrollment of children with visual, hearing and intellectual disability has reached 90% and every disabled student in poverty can get free of charge12 year education from compulsory to high education.
China also adopts measures to provide reasonable accommodation to help disabled people in education. In 2015, the Chinese Ministry of Education and China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF) jointly issuedMeasures for Disabled Persons to Participate in the General College Entrance Examination, providingconveniencesuch as Braille papers, large-print papers, and extended examination timefor disabled persons, including the blind, to take part in the national college entrance examination, so that they can have the opportunity to receive higher education.From 2015 to 2017, more than 4,700 visually impaired students were admitted to General College.Moreover, the Chinese government implemented the National Action Plan on Standardization of Sign Language and Braille (2015-2020). Research and revision tothe current Braille systemwas carried out to establisha national universalbraille system, whichis to be promoted nationwide in 2018. Farther more, China Braille Library has established a Braille digital library with rich resources underthe support of the government. After registration, the blind persons can access free of charge a large amount of online resources including electronic texts, audio and video resources and academic papers. For the purpose of facilitating the reading of the blind persons and enhance their cultural quality, the Chinese government implemented the “National Project of Promoting Digital Reading for Blind Persons”in 2017. More than 200,000reading devices with Wi-Fi function were distributed for blind persons and 1,000 plus Braille typewriters were donated to schools for the blind. The Literature Committee for the Blind was also established to organizeessay competitions, recital contests and a large number of online culture lectures for blind persons each year.
With regard to employment, the Chinese government implements a quota scheme in the employment of people with disability. Government departments,enterprisesand public institutions are requested to arrange employment for disabled persons in proportion, so that the disabled persons, including the blind, can have access to various workingfield. In particular, the blind massage enjoys special favorable policy in vocational education and training, employment and businesstart-ups. In doing so, blind massage has become a vocation that effectively solves the problem of employment of the blind and is being well received by the society. To help the blind persons enter medical institutions, with the joint efforts of CDPF and China Association of the Blind (CAB), the Law of Traditional Chinese Medicineauthorizes blind medical massagiststo engage in medical workin 2016. Since then, the well-educated blind personshave an opportunity to become a respectable medical practitioner in the hospital. To offer more career opportunities for the blind, CAB founded the Blind Piano Tuners Committee, which carries out annual piano tuning training for the blind, and assists the blind piano tuners in participating in the national piano tuning skillcompetition and vocational qualification examination.CAB also supportspsychological counseling by blind counselors in recent years, and over 200 blind persons have obtained professional qualifications. Blind psychological counseling has become a promising new occupation. To tackle the problem of employmentfor rural blind persons, CAB has launched the programs of blind massage training as well as planting and breeding training. Through a series of training programs, we expanded channels of employment for rural blindpersons and helped themlive a well-off life.
With respect to accessibility, CDPF and CAB have worked together to incorporate accessibility into a series of national laws and regulations, and introduced the 13th Five-Year(2016-2020)Development Plan on Accessibility. CABtook the lead todraftthe National Standards of the Guide Dog,and established the Steering Committeefor the Work of Guide Dog to standardize the industrial management and promote social recognition of guide dogs. A blind person with his guide dog should be allowed to receive services was includedin relevant service specifications of the aviation, railway, banking and other industries. CAB alsoputs much emphasisonthe information accessibility. It set up the Information Accessibility Promotion Committee,and took the lead indrafting several national standards on information accessibility, such as information accessibility standards in mobile terminal and banking service. To promote the information technology level of the blind persons, CAB has also organized trainingsof computers and smart phoneseach year. Italso emphasizes to usethe Internet to provide services for the blind persons, and conducts network training, lectures and various competitions through the Internet every year.
However, many problems still exist in the services of the blind people in China. For instance, we still face manychallenges in helping all the blind persons get rid of poverty. The overall educational level of the blind persons needs to be further improved. The implementation and supervision of the laws and regulations on accessibility need to be strengthened. Much work needs to be done in the information accessibility of the blind persons. The final approval of the Marrakesh Treaty needs to be promotedfurther. Here we are glad to exchange work experience of the blind persons with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Let’sgo forward hand in hand for the well-being of the blind population!