Disability Rights

Progress in human rights of persons with disabilities over the 40 years of reform and opening up in China

Updated: Dec 13, 2018 China SCIO Print
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This is an excerpt of a white paper titled "Progress in Human Rights over the 40 Years of Reform and Opening Up in China" published by the State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China on Dec 12, 2018.

The laws ensuring the rights and interests of persons with disabilities have been improved, and the government has placed work in relation to the disabled high on its agenda. As society promotes equality, participation and sharing of benefits for the disabled, they have fared better in terms of quality of life, development, and participation in social affairs.

The mechanism for ensuring the rights and interests of the disabled has improved. China has formulated a system of laws to ensure disabled persons’ rights, including the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons. By April 2018 the state had promulgated more than 80 laws and 50 administrative regulations directly relating to the protection of the rights and interests of the disabled. Having included the development of disabled persons in the national development strategy, China has released seven five-year plans for the development of the disabled, including overall plans for ensuring their rights. China has also established a Disability Prevention Day. All levels of government have improved their work mechanisms in matters related to the disabled, coordinating efforts for their wellbeing. By 2017 China had 2,600 legal assistance centers and 2,500 legal assistance windows for the disabled, as well as 1,746 legal assistance stations funded by disabled persons’ associations at various levels. The government has significantly increased spending on the disabled. In 2017 the central budgetary investment grew by 458 percent compared to the previous five-year period, establishing 3,822 service facilities for the disabled.

The disabled persons’ right to social security is ensured. China has established a subsidy system for the living expenses of disabled persons in need and to pay the nursing costs of persons with severe disabilities, benefitting 21 million disabled persons. By 2017 a total of 26.15 million disabled persons were covered in old-age insurance schemes in both urban and rural areas, with 10.42 million receiving old-age pensions. Of the 5.47 million severely disabled people under the age of 60 who took part in such schemes, 5.29 million had received insurance subsidies from the government, which paid for 96.8 percent of their premiums. Impoverished disabled persons subscribing to basic medical insurance pay a reduced premium, and kinesitherapy and 28 other medical rehabilitation programs are now covered by basic medical insurance.

The system for ensuring disabled persons’ right to rehabilitation has improved. China has introduced programs on preventing disabilities and implemented targeted rehabilitation programs, so that every disabled person has access to rehabilitation services. The state has issued the Regulations on the Prevention of Disabilities and Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons, building rehabilitation centers with standard practices and operating models, and developing professionals capable of delivering consistent quality services. By 2017 there were 833 rehabilitation facilities at the provincial, city and county levels nationwide, and 8,334 professional rehabilitation services for the disabled, with a team of 246,000 professionals. More than 2,000 counties (cities, districts) provided community rehabilitation services. A mechanism for providing rehabilitation services to disabled children has been established. Eight provinces and municipalities now provide subsidies to the disabled when they buy assistance devices, lightening the economic burden of families with disabled members. The state has improved the work-related injury rehabilitation system, and increased compensation for disabilities caused by work-related injuries. In 2017 65.6 percent of disabled persons were covered by rehabilitation services.

Disabled persons’ right to education is better protected. China ensures that the disabled enjoy equal right to education. The government has promulgated and revised the Regulations on Education for the Disabled, including their education in China’s Middle- and Long-Term Education Reform and Development Program 2010-2020 and the Program for Equitable Access to Basic Public Services During the 13th Five-Year Plan Period. China has twice implemented the Special Education Promotion Plan, striving to develop special education and inclusive education to increase the level of education for the disabled.

The state has established a funding system for disabled students from kindergarten to higher education. In autumn 2016 China began to provide 12-year free education from primary to senior high school for disabled students from poor families. By 2016 over 90 percent of children with impaired eyesight, hearing or mental disability had received compulsory education, and children with other types of disability also had increased access to education. The state encourages special education schools to run preschool courses or kindergartens, and has provided funding for disabled children receiving preschool education. In 2017 China had 112 senior high classes (departments) in special education, with 8,466 students on campus, and 132 secondary vocational schools (classes) for the disabled, with 12,968 students. 1,845 disabled persons studied at colleges of special education. China strives to develop inclusive education. In 2017 more than 300,000 disabled students – over 50 percent of all disabled students receiving compulsory education – studied at regular schools during the compulsory education phase, and 10,818 disabled persons were enrolled at regular institutions of higher learning.

Disabled persons’ cultural rights are ensured. Cultural services for the disabled have been included in the nation’s public cultural services system. By 2017 China’s provincial- and prefecture-level television stations had run 285 programs employing sign language. Broadcasting stations had aired 223 radio programs specially for the disabled, and public libraries at the provincial, prefecture and county levels had set up 959 reading rooms with books in Braille and audio books, providing some 25,000 seats. Each year, more than 2 million disabled persons take part in cultural weeks and enjoy charity performances and exhibitions nationwide. To develop disabled arts, the state holds a national disabled arts variety show every four years, with some 100,000 disabled persons attending each time. Art troupes of the disabled have grown quickly to 281 in number, and nearly 300,000 disabled persons work in the culture and arts industry. The government provides cultural services to impoverished disabled persons, and to their families and communities. Through the “digital reading” promotion program for visually impaired persons and many other programs, China offers quality cultural products and services to its disabled population.

Disabled persons’ right to employment is effectively guaranteed. The basic right of disabled persons to employment is strictly protected by law. In China, the provincial, city and county governments have established offices in service of disabled persons seeking employment. By 2017 there were nearly 3,000 such offices with a staff of 15,000. China has initiated an occupational skills promotion program for the disabled, setting up 500 state-level and 350 provincial-level vocational training bases. Since 2013 the Chinese government has kept files on employment and training for 18 million disabled persons, and each year some 333,000 disabled persons enter the workforce. By 2017 more than 9.42 million registered disabled persons were working in urban and rural areas.

More barrier-free facilities and assistance devices have been provided. China has released the Regulations on the Building of Barrier-Free Environments, with provisions on the building of barrier-free facilities, information exchange, and community services, in an effort to ensure that disabled persons can participate equally in social life. By 2017 a total of 451 laws, regulations and normative documents on the construction and management of barrier-free facilities had been issued at the provincial, prefecture and county levels. Between 2016 and 2017 the government helped 1.83 million families with disabled members renovate their homes with barrier-free facilities. China is moving faster to provide barrier-free information services. By January 2018 more than 500 government organs had set up barrier-free public service information platforms, and more than 30,000 websites on government affairs and public services are barrier-free. A total of 9,053 fitness facilities for the disabled have been established, and 222,000 families with severely disabled members have received rehabilitation and fitness services. In 2017 2.44 million disabled persons were provided with tactile sticks, visual aids, artificial limbs and other assistance devices. The disabled persons’ right to drive motor vehicles is protected. Some 160,000 disabled persons who have obtained their drivers’ licenses can now travel and take part in various activities more freely.

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