We’ve caught ourselves thinking about the difficulties of being disabled in China on many occasions: a significant amount of city spaces and public transport are simply handicapped-unfriendly. Besides the occasional beggar, you rarely see disabled people in public, which is probably thanks to the many social factors constraining handicapped people. But at a very basic level, it’s more troubling to think of the difficulties a set of stairs are for someone incapable of using them and the effect it would have on both their ability to travel and their quality of life.
Hopefully, awareness will spread in the way that social issues usually make waves: through the courts. Sina news has an interesting article on a lawsuit recently filed by a pair of paraplegics against the railroad ministry demanding better access for the handicapped on the nation’s railways.
Luan Kaiping and Xie Wenjiang were traveling from beijing to Zibo, Shandong on short notice, and were unable to secure a ticket with a seat. The next few hours were filled with awkward and embarrassing attempts by the pair to try and make themselves comfortable despite appeals to the railway workers.
According to the Protection of Disabled Persons Act – which we didn’t know about but are glad exists – failing to provide Luan and Xie with proper accommodation was illegal, and the two are now suing for increased infrastructure for the handicapped on the nation’s rails.
The Jinan railway authority claimed that while the case has raised awareness of the need to incorporate better services for the disabled, such decisions are out of their hands, and that “a process” is required for these ki
nds of systemic changes. We’ll be interested to see where this case leads: only time will tell whether the courts will provide an effective venue for addressing basic human rights reforms.
Photo from Sina.cn