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China: Around The Nation

Blind man loses discrimination suit against China Railway for use of image verification

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 12:04pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 2:06pm

A court in Beijing ruled against a blind person who sued the Chinese railway department for discrimination, as he cannot buy tickets on its official website due to its image verification process, Beijing Youth Daily reports.

The visually impaired man, known by the alias Chen Wen, brought a lawsuit in Haidian court against China Railway Corporation and two subordinate enterprises, claiming taxi fees of 110 yuan (HK$128) and 1 yuan for mental distress. He said he encountered difficulties inputting verification codes after the prompts were changed to images in 2015.

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Chen, who was born in Gansu, has worked at a massage parlour in Beijing since 2010 and said buying railway tickets is his biggest problem every time he returns home.

He said it was easy previously to enter the security code on the official website of Chinese Railway as the code consisted of English letters and numbers, and he could use a screen reader – software to help blind people use the internet – to read those codes.

But in 2015, the verification code was updated to images, and Chen became unable to purchase tickets on the website without the help of a sighted person.

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China Railway said the verification images were introduced to prevent ticket scalping and did not discriminate against blind people as they had other ways of buying tickets.

Chen’s claim was denied after the first trial by the Haidian court, which ruled the image code affected all consumers, and did not target visually impaired people.

Chen said he would consider whether to appeal.