Guide dogs come to Beijing, but is it a good thing?

The issue of guide dogs in China is something I've talked about over and over again. Yesterday, there was an article in China Daily about Ping Yali and her new guide dog, Lucky. This is the first ever guide dog in Beijing and of course tied into the (Para)Olympics as Ping is a former national disabled athlete. As I'm typically the only one blogging on these sort of issues, I was shocked that I was pipped by Beijing Calling on this story. The writer behind Beijing Calling does a pretty good job explaining the situation and ends with the statement:
For me it's shocking to read she is one of the first to have a guide dog in this
country. I have yet to see a blind person on the street. Apparently there are
some 12.3 million people in China who suffer from some kind of visual
impairment.I can't help but wonder how these people function if they don't even
have white canes, let alone guide dogs. Perhaps they are hidden somewhere, never
given the chance to interact with the community and achieve some kind of
fulfilling life.
The disappointing truth is that Beijing Calling is pretty much right. The only time, if ever, most non-disabled people will have interaction with a blind person is when they go to get a massage. There are many of the 12.3 million visually impaired or blind people who do have canes, but the number who would dare to venture out alone with a cane is very, very small and of those, almost none are totally blind.

I am starting to feel like a broken record, but the article (and Beijing Calling's entry) hints at really how useless Ping's guide dog is. The article offers the quote: "We were not allowed to enter subway stations, buses and sometimes even taxis,' Ping, a torchbearer for the 2008 Olympic Games, said."

Also from the article:
In addition, the city does not recognize guide dogs but Ping said police
informed her that Lucky could be taken outside, but in a self-defeating
compromise - only in the company of an able-bodied person.
So she has a guide dog, but if she wants to go out with it, she must have an able-bodied person with her, so what's the point of the guide dog again? In what can only be assumed is a huge understatement, the article states, "But after having Lucky for only four weeks, Ping realized that she cannot fully take advantage of her companion's abilities."

It's time for the government to fully enact useful laws in this area, Deng and others have to stop sitting around and start doing something.* The Dalian Medical University, which supplied Ping with her guide dog, is doing a great job, but without national laws protecting potential guide dog users, there's really no point to the guide dog program to begin with. The great irony is in the horrible title to the article, "Nothin' but a guide dog, helpin' all the time." While it may be true elsewhere, unfortunately that's not the case in China.

PS: for those who can read Chinese, Ping Yali's blog can be found here. It appears to have only been started recently and include only the articles from Chinese news about her, but I will dig around and share what I can find.

PPS: As to the * in my entry, I'm sorry for anybody offended by the horrible "pun" about Deng, that was not my intent.


Anonymous said...

Just a few weeks ago I happened to be in a subway car with a group of blind students. They held on to each other, hand to shoulder, as they exited -- but of course there was a seeing person running interference and functioning as a guide.

Keep posting on the subject and don't worry about sounding like a broken record. You can educate self-centered ignoramuses like me who happen to catch your blog once in a while and didn't even know that the bumpy sidewalk strip was actually a máng dào for example. "Increasing awareness" has to start somewhere!

Unknown said...

My name is Laura de Haseth Meddens and I have a website you can go to at:

I have the same level of vision as Ping Yali, and have also experienced much of the same challenges and ignorance with my golden retriever Wagner, that she has with hers.

Wagner was the first guide dog in Curaçao and was trained at the Seeing Eye in New Jersey.

I am currently heading a campaign to enact Equal Access Rights legislation for blind and visually impaired people in Curaçao and the Netherlands.

If you don't mind, I'm going to feature your blog on my site where I've set up a petition page to solicit support from people all over the world for such legislation. So I hope your readers, and you will also sign it and ask everyone you know to do the same.

With that kind of support, perhaps we can also inspire the legislators in China to enact the same kind of laws and allow Ping Yali and others with guide dogs the freedom and dignity we all deserve.

I want to help you, and will do everything I can to motivate others to do the same.

Laura & Wagner

Anonymous said...

Dignity is something that all people should have, but some people will do. everything to deny other people this right.
Dr, Randall C. Rojer

Anonymous said...

It saddens to read about circumstances about the lack of guide dog laws in China. Despite being in America, I sometimes face problems when entering smaller establishments. When I entered a Greek deli, I was told that "no dogs were allowed". I tried to explain to the man that in fact, my Lab was a guid dog, but he didn't seem to understand this. If businesses in the U.S. (where service dogs are protected) can reject them, I can't imagine the circumstances in a country where laws are lacking. I would definitely like to keep abreast of this situation. Thanks for sharing this with the world.
Love from,
Tiffany and Lara (the Lab!)

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