Sun, 03 Dec 2023

Democracy at fingertips

Xinhua
20 Nov 2023, 18:30 GMT+10

© Provided by Xinhua

FUZHOU, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- With his fingertips tracing the raised dots on a Braille document, Wang Yongcheng, a national legislator from east China's Fujian Province, said, "This is what democracy looks like. It's tangible, visible."

Wang was carefully reading the Braille versions of four replies to the suggestions he raised earlier this year, a historic first in the annals of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's national legislature.

Among the nearly 3,000 deputies to the 14th NPC, who commenced their five-year term in 2023, the 56-year-old Wang stands out as the sole individual with visual impairment.

In response to Wang's proposal addressing the licensing difficulties faced by blind masseurs and their clinics, the National Health Commission, China Disabled Persons' Federation, and the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine engaged in face-to-face discussions with him in June this year. Together, they embarked on a collaborative research endeavor to tackle the issue.

Relevant agencies pledged to actively facilitate solutions enabling eligible blind masseurs to secure stable employment in the medical sector.

Wang's second suggestion focused on providing large-print textbooks for low-vision students enrolled in regular schools. The Ministry of Education embraced this proposal and supported the promotion of large-print textbook publications, starting with the first grade in autumn 2023.

Wang also advocated for the introduction of preferential policies to enhance the public transportation experience for severely disabled individuals. The railway department responded by establishing special seats, reserving dedicated ticket quotas, and implementing service reservations specifically catering to disabled passengers.

Regarding Wang's proposal to bolster research and provide Braille displays for visually impaired students, the China Disabled Persons' Federation committed to active cooperation with relevant agencies. Their shared objective is to increase R&D funding, foster technological breakthroughs, enhance the construction of an information-accessible environment, and facilitate the integration of Braille display devices into schools.

Wang expressed satisfaction with the replies to his four proposals. "The entire process embodies democracy at its finest," he affirmed. "It is characterized by a holistic approach, direct engagement, and considerate and effective actions."

During the annual gathering of the national legislature in March, NPC deputies put forward over 8,300 suggestions, spanning a broad spectrum of areas, including promoting high-quality development, improving people's well-being, and addressing issues related to the rights protection of disabled persons.

Wang's proposals were among those presented.

In 1985, at the age of 18, Wang lost his sight in an unfortunate accident. Undeterred, he embarked on a challenging entrepreneurial journey, acquiring massage skills and conducting non-profit training.

Following his election as a deputy to the 14th NPC, disabled friends from across the country reached out to Wang, sharing their concerns and aspirations.

He delved into each message, conducted thorough investigations, and formulated his deputy proposals.

"Having walked in darkness, I deeply appreciate the value of light," he reflected. "As a member of the blind community, I am even more attuned to their aspirations."

Of course, proposing suggestions is just one aspect of an NPC deputy's responsibilities. Since his election, Wang's schedule has been relentlessly packed.

In March, in the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing, he fulfilled his duties as an NPC deputy during the first session of the 14th NPC. He engaged in discussions on state affairs, examined the government work report, scrutinized law bills, and participated in the election of China's state leadership.

In June, upon receiving an invitation to attend a session of the NPC Standing Committee, Wang proposed the compilation and publication of Braille and low-vision versions of textbooks for various educational levels.

His proposal was adopted and incorporated into China's first dedicated law on constructing a barrier-free environment, which took effect on Sept. 1.

On Nov. 14, Wang embarked on another journey, this time to south China's Guangdong Province. There, individuals dedicated to the rights protection of disabled persons awaited his arrival, seeking answers and clarifications. He arrived bearing the newly received replies to his proposals, infusing them with renewed confidence and optimism.

"My voice serves as a conduit for the voices of China's 85 million individuals with disabilities," Wang said. "The democratic channel functions smoothly and efficiently; I have no reason not to work day and night and give my full effort."

In his mind, Wang has already begun contemplating new research topics. Moving forward, his focus will expand beyond the rights protection of disabled persons to encompass broader social issues, such as elderly care.

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