January 25, 2006
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    City builds more facilities for disabled
Cao Li
2004-09-14 05:30

SHANGHAI: To make life easier for the half a million disabled people in the city, Shanghai is planning to make its facilities, from apartments to parks, more accessible.

Shanghai will start by upgrading its residential complexes to make them more user-friendly in a series of steps to be completed by the end of next year, officials announced recently.

First on the list are 1,500 housing blocks within the Inner Ring Road, where renovations will be completed by the end of this year. In addition, the city plans to upgrade another 3,670 public facilities to better accommodate the disabled.

"Shanghai will invest 300 million yuan (US$36 million) in the next four years, aiming to make the city more convenient for the disabled," said Fan Zhaopeng, deputy director of the Shanghai Handicapped-Accessible Facilities Supervision Centre, part of the Shanghai Disabled Persons' Federation.

There are approximately 520,000 disabled people in the city, or one in every five families on average, according to the Shanghai Disabled Persons' Federation.

The city's renovation will take several forms.

A total of 15,000 sites, including residences, schools, public buildings, post offices, clinics and parks, will be equipped with handicapped-friendly facilities this year, Fan said.

By the end of 2006, 25 per cent of all sidewalks will be equipped with facilities like ramps and walkways for the blind.

"By the end of October, five key areas - the Shanghai Railway Station, the Bund, People's Square, Yuyuan Garden and Lujiazui - will all have walkways for the blind," said Fan.

The per-kilometre cost of the walkways is estimated to be around 90,000 yuan (US$1,090), according to Fan.

Some 30 wheelchair-accessible buses have already started service. Thirty crosswalks have been equipped with audio signal systems designed for the blind, two special elevators built for the disabled at Pudong International Airport, and a special elevator for the overpass installed in Pudong, Fan said.

The Shanghai Metro Line 1 has already begun renovations to make it more accessible. It will install 31 special elevators in every of its stops and build 11,000 metres of walkways for the blind, said Fan.

The Shanghai Telecommunication Company has also stepped in to help, offering a cheap service package for the blind. The move has already received a warm response, Fan said.

"The disabled need our care and support. They are sometimes treated with prejudice and indifference," Bao said. "But the attitudes towards the under-privileged are changing, and the government is doing something to help them."

Besides renovating existing facilities, the city also plans to pay close attention to the disabled when designing new buildings in the future.

"All the new residential projects must include handicapped-accessible designs according to the national standard," said Fan.

(China Daily 09/14/2004 page3)


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