Hong Kong, China Country Report to World Blind Union Asia Pacific, General Assembly, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Organization : Hong Kong Blind Union & Hong Kong Society for the Blind

1. Population Profile Data of the Blind Community

According to Special Topics Report No. 62 “Persons with disabilities and chronic diseases” published by HKSAR Census and Statistics Department in December 2014, the number of people with visual impairment are 174,800 which equals to 2.4% of the total population in Hong Kong.

2. Improvement of Opportunities and Challenges

2.1. Employment

New employment initiatives have been tried by Hong Kong Blind Union in the past few years. A visually impaired baristas training programme was conducted in 2015 and finally 3 out of the 6 trainees got employment opportunities after the training. IT ambassador training and recruitment scheme was held in 2016 and 4 of our visually impaired members joined a leading technology company in 2017. Life coach training scheme was held in 2016 and the visually impaired graduates started forming their own life coach company with a professional life coach organization in 2017.

2.2. Education

In line with the world trend, United English Braille has been started from early education of the visually impaired since 2016 in Hong Kong. However, it takes some time to make it popular among the visually impaired in Hong Kong, by the production of more Braille books with UEB and training of the older adults in the use of UEB.

2.3. Transportation

NIL.

2.4. ICT

The Accessible Digital Technology Centre under Hong Kong Blind Union launched an indoor navigation project “Smart City Walk” in 2017 with an aim at empowering people with visual impairment to travel around the city independently. This four-year project will develop a tailor-made accessible mobile application with sufficient database of both indoor and outdoor venues. End-users can be guided to the targeted location or facilities with audio instructions. Other venue layout information can be provided through this APP.

To differentiate bank notes in Hong Kong is not easy for people with visual impairment due to the similar sizes between $20 note and $50 note, and between $100 and $500 note. As a new development, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority sponsored the Hong Kong Society for the Blind to develop a new mobile app that scans banknotes with camera on smart phone. It works on both IOS and Android Platforms. The app is able to read out the note denomination by speech or by vibration feedback in just a second.

2.5. Any Other Areas

2.5.1. Provision of Voice Navigation ATMs

Hong Kong Blind Union has been asking all banks to provide voice navigation ATMs to enable visually impaired people’s independence in using the machines since 2000’s. The first voice navigation ATMs has been installed in Hong Kong in 2013 while the number of machine increased to more than 30 in 2017 with the help of Equal Opportunities Commission. After Blind Union’s active negotiation with different banks in the past few years, over 600 voice navigation ATMs have been installed or confirmed to be installed by the end of 2018.

2.5.2. Audio Description Movie Show in Cinemas and Audio Description for Exhibits

Thanks to the support from UA Cinemas and the One Cool Film Production Limited, a first release Chinese movie that came with pre-recorded audio description went live on 2 August 2018 in one of the two movie theatres of the UA Cinema Circuit. The theatres are equipped with broadcast facilities that transmit audio-description via wifi to headsets worn by the visually impaired. The visually impaired audience are able to enjoy watching first release movies in cinemas together with their sighted friends. This is a new milestone for movie shown with audio description in Hong Kong. The visually impaired people in Hong Kong are now able to go watching movies with friends in theatres that equipped with the facilities. Of course, there must be more and more first release movies come with pre-recorded audio description sound track. The Hong Kong Society for the Blind will try its very best to enlist support from different film producers and different cinema circuits to make this becoming more and more popular in Hong Kong.

In addition, audio description has been made available for exhibits in arts gallery, museums and so on. This has widened the cultural horizon of people with visual impairment given the chance to read exhibits made by different artists, in addition to touching them.

2.5.3. New Batch of Hong Kong Bank Notes

The next issue of new batch of Hong Kong Bank Notes do have better accessibility features to facilitate easy identification by the visually impaired. These include Braille shown at the bottom left corner of a banknote, an embossed numeral of the note at the top left corner, and an embossed line embedded towards middle of the note that varied according to the denomination. To take care of those who do not use smart phones, note-measuring device is also still available to the visually impaired to identify the bank note denominations.

2.5.4. Services for the Deafblind in Hong Kong

Deafblind Rehabilitation service of the Hong Kong Society for the Blind (HKSB) was first started in 1995 under the Community Chest’s support to provide rehabilitation training to people aged 16 and above with dual sensory loss in vision and hearing. Apart from rendering rehabilitation programme to the deafblind, we have developed tactile sign language to facilitate the communication between deafblind and the people they encounter in the local context. It has been proved to be effective to facilitate the day to day communication, learning and social adjustment of the deafblind persons. Up to date, HKSB has produced two Deafblind Training Manuals and two sets of Chinese Tactile Sign Language Vocabulary in CD-ROM. The production of the third Chinese Tactile Sign Language Vocabulary in DVD is now underway and will be completed by the end of this year.

The first-ever Resource Centre for the Deafblind was established in 2006 to provide supportive services to the deafblind and their family members as well as the teaching professionals and rehabilitation instructors or therapists working for the deafblind.

Since 2010, Communicator training was launched to make available volunteers good at tactile sign communication to work for the deafblind. The Guide Interpreter provides one to one service to the deafblind since 2013 in the form of escort and communication service in their daily life activities, such as going to market, banks, attending medical follow up and etc. The deafblind in Hong Kong are no longer shutting themselves from the outside world and staying alone at home. They are able to go out into the community, attend social and recreational activities, and enjoy their leisure.

3. Changes in Government Policies

The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and the Equal Opportunities Commission have joined hands to organise an annual Web Accessibility Recognition Scheme to show appreciation to enterprises and organisations for making their websites accessible since 2013. From 2013 to 2016, more than 300 websites and mobile apps were recognized by the Scheme. Besides, The Hong Kong government has committed to require all websites and mobile apps under government should reach WCAG 2.0 AA level since 2014.

Civil Service Bureau of the Government has launched the Internship Scheme for Students with Disabilities since 2016 and further expands the Scheme to double the number of internship places increasing from an average of 50 a year in the past two years to 100 in 2018. The scheme allows more young persons with disabilities to gain hands-on work experience through placements in the Government, thereby strengthening their competitiveness before they enter the work force.

The Government launched a consultation exercise to gauge views on the relevant provisions in the Copyright Ordinance which might need to be amended to align with the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons with visual impairments, or otherwise print disabilities in 2017.

Immigration Department of the Government provides smart identity card with braille of the six digits of an ID number on the back in order to facilitate the visually impaired to identify their identity cards. After several discussion and trial, similar features will be added at passport in 2019.

The Government invited public views on its second United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) report in 2018. The report has to be submitted to the Central People’s Government for incorporation into its periodic report to the United Nations.

The Government has undertaken to carry out a policy review of rehabilitation in 2017. The Government has tasked the Rehabilitation Advisory Committee (RAC) to formulate the Hong Kong Rehabilitation Programme Plan (HKRPP) in two years. RAC aims to submit a report on the new HKRPP in 2019.

4. Development in Affiliates’ Capacity

Nothing to report in particular.

5. Any Development Relevant to the WBU 2016-2020 Quadrennial Strategy

To promote web accessibility, Hong Kong Blind Union has continued the research works on evaluating the accessibility of local websites since 2011. The most updated research was conducted in late 2017 to 2018 while a press conference was held in July 2018 to release the results to the public. A social enterprise was also set up in 2013 to provide testing and consultancy services on web accessibility for the public and private sectors as well as to create job opportunities for visually impaired persons. The customer database has expanded to Macau in the past two years.

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