Photos: China’s absurd and dangerous footpaths for the blind; the disabled face barriers
April 19, 2011Jing Gao8 CommentsAccessibility, blind lane, Blindness, Disability, footpath for the blind, health, paralympics, physically challenged, physically impaired, Social Issues, White cane, Yu Jianrong
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.
There are more from the web.