China: Enabling People with Disabilities
Supporting people with disabilities in the People’s Republic of China to build independent information platforms, change social attitudes, and take control of their own lives
Beijing One plus One has been promoting the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in China since 2008.
Beijing One plus One is an independent, non-government organisation, run by and for people with disabilities. In June 2008, we set up the country’s first independent radio production centre (OPO Sound Studio) staffed by journalists with disabilities. Our radio shows are now reaching most parts of the country and our flagship show “China Disability Observed” is broadcast through China National Radio. In a country where the media is heavily controlled by the state we have been working hard to carve out a strong, independent voice representing the concerns of disabled people and other marginalised groups. Over the last seven years we have tried to make Beijing One plus One a model of good civil society practice, encouraging open discussion, creativity and enthusiasm.
Our overall objectives are to support people with disabilities in the People’s Republic of China, to build independent information platforms, challenge social attitudes, monitor the implementation of the CRPD and advocate for policy change to bring China closer in line with its obligations under the international treaty.
- “China Disability Observed” radio programmes (Zhongguo canzhangren guancha中国残障人观察) – Production of 12-minute feature investigative radio programmes with distribution through China National Radio’s nation-wide radio station, CD, MP3 players, the Internet, Audience Focus Group, as well as in print format in ‘Youren’ magazine.
Key areas of concern in China’s implementation of the CRPD include:
- Inclusive education and the debate over China’s draft “Regulations on Education for People with Disabilities”
- Legal capacity, legal personhood and the rights of persons with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities (including China’s new Mental Health legislation);
- Issues relating to discrimination against disabled people in education and employment;
- Access to justice for people with disabilities.
“China Disability Observed” is also trying to reach out to a broad audience with an interest in social justice and the development of civil society in China. The main goal of this programme is to dig deep into some of the most crucial disability issues in both urban and rural China: education, employment and legal reform, and to push forward real changes by including policy recommendations and the voices of grassroots-level disabled people.
- “News Time” radio programme (zixun shijian咨讯时间) – Production of 12 minute magazine radio programmes and distribution through CNR, as well as CD, MP3 players, the Internet, and Audience Focus Group.
These programmes contain practical information relating to principles of the UN Convention, local, national and international information on legal rights, advocacy, education, employment, personal and marital relationships, coming to terms with disability and dealing with discrimination. The programmes are made in close consultation with disabled people and specialists, including lawyers, counsellors, and self-advocates.
“News Time” is broadcast three times a month. Besides containing useful information for grassroots disabled people living in different regions, each programme includes a 5-minute segment analysing and commenting on current Chinese and international news topics relating to disability. The topics of the discussion include:
- Anti-discrimination (反歧视): stories relating to changes in the law, education, employment, social attitudes, individuals challenging stereotypes etc.
- Accessibility (无障碍): stories relating to technology, IT, accessible environments, education and training, policy etc.
- Topical news (新闻热点、观察评论), covering recent events, both in China and abroad, seen from a disability perspective. These do not necessarily have to be specific disability events and programmes can be produced either as documentaries or as studio formats (with invited guests).
- Other programmes may relate to sports, the arts and entertainment, with a broad interest-base, but taking more original angles than usual.
At least 25% of all programmes cover rural disability issues, though some programmes relate to both urban and rural contexts.
- “Life Stories” radio programme (renwu gushi 人物故事) – Production of 12 minute interview-based profile programmes and distribution through CNR, as well as CD, MP3 players, the Internet, and Audience Focus Group.
This programme will profiling four disabled individuals who challenge stereotypes, push boundaries and overcome barriers in Chinese society, including disabled people, disability rights advocates, and others who work to promote social awareness and equality in China.
Production of interactive radio programme for the blind community: OPO Hotline
- Hotline Podcast (shizhang rexian 视障热线) – Production of 20 minute Hotline podcasts and distribution through CNR, as well as CD, MP3 players, the Internet (iTunes subscription), and Audience Focus Group.
The Hotline programme, has proved to be an effective interactive platform for blind people across China to participate in sharing information in a systematic way. Each podcast contains various questions from visually impaired callers from all over China who call in and ask for advice. Answers come from other people with disabilities (at least three per issue), experts, lawyers, policy makers and officials. Edited versions (12 minutes each) of the selected podcasts are available for OPO’s weekly window on CNR.
Broadcasting via CNR is a great opportunity to get our voice heard by the whole country. It also helps raise OPO’s profile in China. OPO has slowly built up a healthy relationship with CNR, and the radio station has increased OPO’s airtime to twice a week, which means that OPO is now producing virtually all disability-related programmes on China’s national media.
Production of pan-disability magazine: Youren
- Youren Magzine (有人杂志) – Production of 4 magazines per year, distributed both in print format and online
OPO started producing Youren as part of a pilot project partly funded by Handicap International. Ever since the first issue of Youren was published and distributed, we have been showered with inquiries from disabled people and organizations from all over the country. It is the only magazine in China that focuses on disability rights-related topics, produced by disabled people and for disabled people, as well as the general public. The magazine combines investigative reporting on disability issues in China and other useful information, reviews, essays written by disabled people and rights advocates.
Supporting China’s leading independent Disabled Persons’ Organisation