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2023-01-16 09:12:15

Shanghai has ramped up its efforts to build a barrier-free environment as part of a countrywide initiative to make life more convenient for the elderly and disabled groups.

The Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress on Friday approved a new law for creating an accessible or barrier-free environment for residents. The ordinance, likely to come into effect in March, gives detailed directions for the construction, maintenance, and monitoring of accessible facilities in the city.

With the move, China’s financial hub is joining the capital Beijing in answering the state’s call to complete legislation on the construction of a more accessible environment, especially amid an aging population. The number of older people with difficulties in performing daily activities from dressing to shopping is expected to reach 59.3 million in 2030, while China has 8.8 million people with different disabilities requiring relevant infrastructure.

“We should have a long-term and more open perspective to understand the significance of promoting the construction of a barrier-free environment in Shanghai,” Jin Jing, a Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress representative and adjunct vice-chairman of the Shanghai Disabled Persons’ Federation, told domestic media. “A barrier-free environment may be your demand today, but it could be mine tomorrow.”

China started infrastructure upgrades targeting the older demographic and those with disabilities in 1989. During the initial phase, authorities focused on upgrading streets, public buildings, and transport facilities, while all major cities later included such initiatives on their agenda.

The existing facilities, however, are still insufficient to meet the demands of all individuals, and the implementation of relevant rules varies in different places. For example, there have been several complaints about urban sidewalks for the visually impaired, with many highlighting the risk posed by tactile pavings occupied by bikes and cars for parking.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: VCG)