04 June 2008

Beijing Offends Everyone With Guide for Olympics Staff



I just noticed this story about China's extremely backwards attitudes towards people with disabilities. A guide went out to one hundred thousand Olympic Volunteers for this year's Summer Games. In the section titled, "Skills for helping the disabled," China's Olympic Committee brings us such gems as:

Some physically disabled are isolated, unsocial, and introspective. They can be stubborn and controlling; they may be sensitive and struggle with trust issues. Sometimes they are overly protective of themselves, especially if called “crippled” or “paralysed...

When you make eye contact, do not fuss or show unusual curiosity. Never stare at their disfigurement. A patronising or condescending attitude will be easily sensed, even for a brain-damaged patient.

Often the optically disabled are introverted. They seldom show strong emotions.

This is really offensive. I want to hope that this is just a bad translation, but I don't think that's it. The Times UK article points out that, even though there are eighty million people in China who have disabilities, discrimination against them is firmly embedded in modern Chinese culture. "The Communist Party’s desire for a healthy nation, characterised by the one-child policy, fostered deep prejudices that extended to forced sterilisations, bans on marriages between disabled people and abortions of abnormal foetuses."

After complaints from loads of disability rights groups, the manual is being revised to be less horrible. Let's hope the Paralympic Athletes get the warm welcome they deserve in Beijing, instead of being greeted by these type of archaic and offensive attitudes.

In brighter news, Paralympian Cheri Blauwet was recently featured in a Visa commercial on NBC prime time. I will try to hunt it down on YouTube to post it up here. Visa will also feature other Paralympians in their commercials as we approach the summer games.

Also, this guy who has cerebral palsy is walking 830 miles across Michigan to raise money for United Cerebral Palsy. On stilts. I wonder if the three-foot stilts make it easier to cover ground on his trek. I'm guessing not. And his pants bill must be through the roof!

Image: Shaho Qadir finishes the Great North Run half-marathon in style. A man in athletic attire and a bike helmet walks on his hands on a road. He is missing both legs just below the knee. Behind him in the distance, a man is finishing in a racing wheelchair.

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