Who Judges Progress?

Yesterday marked 100 days to the start of the Paralympics and this week, BOCOG was under fire for a guide it released for volunteers explaining how to deal with the disabled. It was something I wanted to cover, but things here are extremely busy, and China Hearsay did a pretty good job summing things up (the original Times article can be found here). Since then, BOCOG has withdrawn parts of the offending English guide.

I agree with the complaints about the article, it is a bit clumsy, but much of the blame can be placed on the translator (despite its attempt to put on an excellent Olympics, it seems BOCOG has failed to bring on the necessary translators and editors, not only in this case) and not of the actual Chinese version. In fact, the head of the Paralympics Games blamed it solely on the translator, saying "probably it's cultural difference and mistranslation."

The Times article (and its ilk) failed to go more in depth on the issue of disability in China and included a number of its own misconceptions. It also tends to focus on the negative, instead of acknowledge many of the positives, including the fact that an amended version of the Disabled Protection Law was passed this year (more on that in a future post). There was also this interesting quote:

The presence of a special guide denotes progress, according to Mike Brace, the
chairman of the British Paralympic Association. “It’s a clumsy attempt to
override years of limited awareness. It’s not ideal, but up to seven years ago,
they might not have acknowledged disabled people at all.”

The point he makes is a legitimate one and unlike a lot of minority groups, the disabled have only really gotten the respect they deserved and been included in society in western countries over the past 20-30 years. With that in mind, its hard to expect China to reach that point in a short span of time, things are moving forward here, improving each year, though the process has been slow so far, many place their hopes on the Paralympics to change all that and provide needed recognition and interaction for the disabled and the rest of society.

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