Easy access for Games athletes, says Beijing
Beijing has declared itself ready for the Paralympic Games, after making preparations to ensure people with disabilities can move around easily.
Reconstruction and improvements at major venues and infrastructure have all been completed. The Paralympic village opened on Saturday following renovations in Qingdao , the city hosting the sailing events. Organisers have installed lanes for the blind and wheelchair ramps, and advance team members from the US and Hungary have already checked in.
Beijing has recruited 44,000 volunteers and trained them for three years on how to serve people with disabilities. Access to Beijing's transport systems and top tourist attractions has been upgraded.
According to Xinhua, the municipal government spent 67 million yuan (HK$76.64 million) in adding freely accessible facilities in 60 tourist attractions, building over 12,000 square metres of ramps and nearly 3,200 metres of hand railings.
The report also claimed that the country's first fleet of accessible taxis had been rolled out.
Disabled access to the Great Wall, for example, includes two lifts and a 180-metre wheelchair ramp to the Badaling section of the wall, which offers some of the best views.
In the Forbidden City, at the Palace Museum a 1,000-metre-long path has been readied, allowing wheelchair-bound visitors to roll freely along the palace's central axis.
The Silk Street market, another popular attraction for foreigners in Beijing, has completed construction of a 160-metre road that caters to the visually impaired. Sixteen parking spaces are ready for disabled shoppers. More than 100 road signs in the market point the disabled towards help. Service desk staff have been trained to use sign language to give shopping information.
Xinhua said people with disabilities had already been taking advantage of the renovations and were shopping as the Paralympics kick-off neared.
China Central Television promises to broadcast live at least three events per day during the Games.
Sign-language interpretation would be broadcast simultaneously with every event, for people with impaired hearing.
The programme's producers said they would aim to present the fighting spirit of all Paralympics athletes, and avoid focusing solely on who gets the gold medal.
Officials claimed all accessible facilities for the Beijing Paralympics had reached national standard, and that five of the stadiums had reached international standard.
Four hundred accessible buses will be running on 16 special bus routes to take people to venues.
Every stop on eight train lines will have at least one gateway where a wheelchair can be elevated from the ground to the platform. The 22 designated hospitals and 16 designated hotels have been rebuilt. The IOC published guidebooks and applied wireless hearing aids and video sign language translation software.
There are 20 stadiums for competitions and 6 independent training stadiums for the Beijing Paralympics. These are mainly located in the Olympic Centre and on university campuses.