Photos: China’s absurd and dangerous footpaths for the blind; the disabled face barriers

April 19, 2011Jing Gao8 Comments, , , , , , , , , , ,

Yu Jianrong, a famous human rights activist and sociologist, who campaigned against abducted children exploited as beggars earlier this year, made another appeal on April 15 to microblog users: Take pictures of faulty footpaths for the blind and upload them to a public page. The purpose is to pick ten most hideous “blind lanes” and alert ordinary people of the disregard for and difficulty of blind people. (Read MiniTofu coverage of Yu Jianrong’s other campaign against child beggars.)

“Blind lane,” or a footpath for the blind, is made up of colorful titles, usually yellow, that are marked on a sidewalk with a tactile surface.

The public page in Sina’s microblogosphere has had 350 followers. So far, more than 160 people have uploaded pictures.

It is sometimes painful for people with disabilities to live in China. When a blind person uses his white cane to cross the street, or two deaf people use sign language to communicate in public, people around them stare at them and murmur or tut-tut as a result of curiosity or purely sympathy, but the disabled can hardly appreciate that.

Few modern edifices or skyscrapers have accessible entrances, let alone residential or school buildings that typically have lower budgets. Most disabled children go to special schools instead of receiving mainstream education, as mainstream schools are often not ready to accept such students, and special education also makes it psychologically easier and “less special” for children with disability than if they are to be mixed with normal children who view then differently.

“I was followed up the street by curious schoolgirls and there was a guy who cycled into the back of a stationary trailer because he was staring at me,” Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson was quoted by BBC on using a wheelchair in Beijing.

Ironically, the Chinese infrastructure can be a huge pitfall. If you think you can lay back and count on bosses’ goodwill, you are wrong.

Kong Fanwei, a physically challenged man in Hangzhou, said that a lot of the accessible ramps end at a door that opens from the outside, and the door is not automated. So his wheelchair practically becomes a barrier. “The blind lane you design may have only one more turn (than it should be), but it may become a labyrinth to the blind. The ramp you design may be only five or six degrees higher, but to a disabled person in a wheelchair, it may become a high wall,” said Kong Fanwei, “Please design with your heart, not simply your brain.” (Youth Times, February 8th)

He Zuyong, a teacher at a school for the blind, wrote in a letter to the editor at Nanfang Daily, “My students said to me ‘Always trust my own white cane and never the blind lane.’ In his mind, some blind lanes are but a show…Many people in the society never realize the significance of the footpath to the blind, and therefore, they’ve thoughtlessly damaged, occupied or barricaded.”

The following are some of the pictures uploaded to the public page Yu Jianrong has launched.

blog01blog02blog-2blog04blog05

There are more from the web.

blind06

A zigzag course?

blind11ICM107BICM107Bblindblind03blind05blind04blind08

Related articles:

8 comments to “Photos: China’s absurd and dangerous footpaths for the blind; the disabled face barriers”

  1. Anonymous | April 20, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Not only are the paths for the blind dangerous, but they're also extremely uncomfortable to walk on!

    Before, during, and after the Olympics there was an ad that would play constantly on the subway cars in Beijing. It attempted to convey the idea that in preparation for the Olympics, Beijing had become a place that was more than able to accommodate its disabled foreign friends. More importantly, it sought to show how it had improved the lives of its own disabled population. It showed a disabled man in a wheelchair being wheeled towards a large intersection somewhere in Beijing by a gorgeous, kind-looking security officer who pressed the button to cross, waited for the green "walk" light, and then slowly pushed the man across the street and saw him off with a wave. The only problem with the ad? There wasn't a car in sight. No stream of cars making right turns on red, treating the light as if it had been green all along? No one honking at the wheelchair-bound citizen as he fails to make it across the street quickly enough? No scooters or electric bikes careening through the intersection as if traffic laws don't apply to them? Nope, nope, and nope. It's frightening enough crossing the street with your senses and mobility intact! I can't imagine trying to do so being blind, deaf, or disabled.

    Sadly, being disabled in China is still extremely difficult. While bigger cities might pay lip service to their needs by laying down paths for the blind or building elevators in newly constructed subway lines, what often results is inadequate by most standards. Either it's not really functional or people are unaware of how to accommodate and interact with the disabled when they eventually encounter them. But, things are certainly better than they used to be and, hopefully, as more and more awareness is brought to the handicapped, people will be more understanding of their needs and their necessary accommodations.

  2. [...] Photos: China's absurd and dangerous footpaths for the blind; the … Apr 19, 2011 … Yu Jianrong, a famous human rights activist and sociologist, who campaigned against abducted … [...]

  3. Agueda Symanski | December 10, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    The only occurrence of the word errors’ in this post is in reference to navigation errors (I think you meant *arrows*

  4. [...] and, if you ask any Chinese blind person, they will tell you they don’t use it because there are obstacles everywhere across [...]

  5. [...] and, if you ask any Chinese blind person, they will tell you they don’t use it because there are obstacles everywhere across [...]

  6. [...] and, if you ask any Chinese blind person, they will tell you they don’t use it because there are obstacles everywhere across [...]

  7. [...] and, if you ask any Chinese blind person, they will tell you they don’t use it because there are obstacles everywhere across [...]

  8. [...] and, if you ask any Chinese blind person, they will tell you they don’t use it because there are obstacles everywhere across [...]

Leave a Reply