New rules to help city's disabled, elderly

Hu Min
Regulations to come into effect from June aim to advance construction of a barrier-free environment to make life easier for Shanghai's disadvantaged residents.
Hu Min

New regulations on the construction of a barrier-free environment will be effective from June. 

The regulations were passed by the city government in February and the previous ones effective in 2003 and amended in 2010 will be abolished.

Barrier-free refers to an environment where disabled, sick or elderly people and children can take public transport, communicate and receive social services independently and safely, said Wang Haidong, an official with the Shanghai Disabled Persons' Federation. 

”The new regulations are a leap forward toward a barrier-free society," he said. 

Shanghai began its construction of a barrier-free environment in the 1980s, involving major streets and new buildings.  

After 2010, this was expanded to areas such as information, public services and other areas of people's daily lives. 

The old regulations lag behind in terms of construction standards and could not satisfy current demand, calling for new ones, said Wang. 

"The new regulations encourage the participation of social forces, clarify the construction and maintenance requirements of barrier-free facilities, promote barrier-free information communication and improve barrier-free public services to help the disabled and seniors break communication barriers and get involved in society," said Wang. 

"The new regulations are more practical and detailed and raise the fines for damaging barrier-free facilities.”

New, upgraded and expanded streets, public buildings, public transport facilities and residential complexes should meet the criteria of barrier-free facilities, according to the regulations. 

Barrier-free facilities should have clear and noticeable signs, which should be included in the city’s guide system. 

Public transport operators should install barrier-free vehicles gradually based on demand, while Metro stations should set up barrier-free facilities and connect them in transfer stations. 

Barrier-free carriages should be gradually allocated on subway trains. 

The regulations stipulate that public parking lots and parking lots at large residential complexes should set up barrier-free parking spaces with signs for the disabled, and the operators of parking lots should ask people not entitled to occupy barrier-free spaces to leave or report serious offenses to the police. 

Tourist attractions and public cultural facilities such as museums, art galleries and cinemas should provide barrier-free services such as wheelchairs, audio guides or sign language for the disabled.

Medical treatment institutions should provide priority services such as registration and guidance for the disabled and seniors and they are encouraged to open barrier-free clinics for people with hearing and visual impairment. 

Staff at public facilities should make access easier for people with guide dogs.

Old residential communities are encouraged to install elevators and improve barrier-free facilities at the homes of the disabled and seniors with subsidies offered. 

News or documentary programs should have subtitles or sign language, and cinemas, cultural venues and community-based cultural activity centers are encouraged to screen barrier-free films for the disabled. 

Libraries at city- or district-level should establish reading rooms for people with visual impairment and provide books in braille and audio materials. 

Government service portals and websites should provide barrier-free information and communication services, which should be applied to emergency hotlines 110, 119 and 120, and 12345, a 24-hour government-run public service hotline. 

Convenience should be provided for disabled exam sitters and those attending driving tests. 

Public service providers in areas such as finance and telecommunications should provide relevant services for people with hearing or visual impairment. 

Schools should provide barrier-free services for disabled students, while public transport venues such as airports, railway stations and ports should provide wheelchairs and consultation services for the disabled and the elderly. 

Social organizations are encouraged to conduct training to help the disabled and elderly use intelligent technologies. 

Any individual and working unit can report violations of the regulations to the owners or management staff of barrier-free facilities, providers of barrier-free services or government authorities. 

Anyone damaging or occupying barrier-free facilities or changing their use face fines up to 20,000 yuan (US$3,053) and will be included in the city's public credibility information platform.

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