Giving Credit Where Credits Due

Jaunted has put together an interesting series on the Beijing Olympics and a recent entry talks about Beijing's Olympic/Paralympic preprations as related to the disabled, the title being "Accessibility Is a Pipedream." I've been very critical about Beijing's treatment of the disabled and its Paralympics preparations, but in this sense, I'm a little frustrated.

Perhaps I'm just more optimistic lately about how things will go, but I think there is more than meets the eye on this issue. The article's focus is overwhelmingly on the 10,000 sign language translators that are currently in training. To be honest, I always thought the focus on sign language training for the Paralympics was a bit strange, the Paralympics don't include any deaf athletes. The article brings up a good point about what type of sign language the trainees are learning (its my understanding it is Chinese Sign Language, as well as some International Sign Language and/or American Sign Language) and how easy it will be for them to communicate with deaf people.

What the article is missing is the fact that Chinese people are learning sign language (and other lessons and skills to help them interact more conveniently with disabled people). The article states:

About 30,000 Beijing-based volunteers have now signed up for "disability
training" ahead of the Olympic Games. As we speak, they're undertaking crash
courses in how to deal with handicaps of all types, from physical disabilities
to visual and hearing impairments to learning difficulties.

The fact that this is true is what really matters. There needs to be more interaction between disabled individuals and everyone else, they need to be seen as worthwhile individuals who can be integrated into society. The more opportunities that people have to learn there is very little difference between the able-bodied and disabled, the better. Beijing's move towards making the city (and society as a whole) more accessible doesn't seem to be a temporary one, but a permanent attempt to change things.

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