Sunday, April 27

In July, guide dogs allowed in China

Greetings. I received the following article from a guide dog related email list. Hopefully, this new era of guide dogs being allowed in China will help improve access to public places by the blind, as well as the welfare of the blind in general in China. Enjoy.

Guide dogs given all-clear for public venues sharing the Olympic spirit

Guide dogs given all-clear for public venues
By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-25

Guide dogs for the blind will be allowed into public
places such as subway stations and buses starting
July, under a new law amendment passed Thursday.

Lawmakers said the change, in the amendment to the Law
on the Protection of Disabled Persons, aims to better
protect the rights and interests of the blind
in the run-up to the Beijing 2008 Paralympics in
September, during which many athletes will bring their
canine helpers to the capital.

Currently, ownership of large dogs in Beijing is
restricted and large dogs are barred from public
places. Since guide dogs are said to be a new
in the country, no exceptions were made.

This has caused inconvenience to a number of blind
people. Ping Yali, the country's first Paralympic
champion, complained to the media last year that her
guide dog "Lucky", a golden retriever, was always
barred from public places.

Explaining the law amendment to the Standing Committee
of the National People's Congress (NPC), Minister of
Civil Affairs Li Xueju said it was necessary
to make a change to allow the guide dogs into public
places as many other countries do.

"In bidding for the hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games,
our country has also made a commitment to foreign
athletes for them to bring guide dogs to China,"
he said.

However, although the law amendment grants the blind
the right to take guide dogs to public places,
detailed rules are needed to facilitate its
Ma Yu'e, deputy director of the legal department of
the China Disabled Persons' Federation, said.

Ma said that the federation is now working with public
security departments in Beijing and "it's very likely
that a detailed rule on guide dogs will be
made before the Paralympics".

Ma said such a change marks great progress in
safeguarding the rights and interests of the blind.

"The misunderstanding that guide dogs are pets must be
corrected," she said. "They are working dogs just as
police dogs are. And guide dogs are intelligent
and friendly. They won't cause any safety issues."

Official figures show about 12.3 million people in the
country suffer from visual impairments and there is an
increasing demand for guide dogs.

Apart from the rule that allows guide dogs into public
places, the law amendment also takes a closer look at
the rights and interests of the disabled in
regards to education, employment and medical care. It
also stipulates that disabled people who run private
businesses can enjoy favorable tax policies
and be exempted from administrative charges.

Similarly, the amendment has a special chapter on
promoting a barrier-free environment for the disabled.

Sun Shujun, a disabled NPC deputy from Liaoning
province who was invited to the NPC Standing Committee
session yesterday, said: "Not only should the
be barrier-free. People's mindsets and attitudes
towards us disabled people should be barrier-free as
well ... Equal and fair treatment is what we want

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