September 4, 2008

Barrier-Free Airport Serves Accessible Paralympics

Barrier-free airport serves accessible Paralympics

BEIJING, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Beijing has promised to stage an accessible Paralympics, and a barrier-free airport is a good place for thousands of Paralympic family members to start their accessible journey in Beijing.

Locating in Shunyi district, the Beijing Capital International Airport(BCIA) consists of three terminals and three runways. It is serving as the main airport for Beijing Olympics and Paralympics.

"Since the first Paralympic delegation, Ukraine, arrived on August 14th, BCIA had welcomed 381 Paralympic flights and 6,425 Paralympic family members including 1,324 wheelchairs by September 2nd, based on the principles of ensuring security and respecting personality as well as privacy,"said Dong Zhiyi, general manager of Beijing Capital International Airport Co Ltd, in a press conference here on Wednescday.

According to Dong, BCIA has invested more than twelve million yuan(about 1.7 million US dollars) to improve the barrier-free facilities and transportation, including widely deployed ramp and blind walkways, lower service desks and telephones, braille reminder on handrails, barrier-free toilets, elevators and drinking fountains.

"In order to bring convenience to wheelchair users, BCIA built up 12 one-touch information telephones outside the entrances of the terminals. Passengers with special needs only need to pick up the phone and dail one button to call for help. Flashing light reminder at boarding gates can clue on people with hearing impairments. And service guides in braille can well inform people with weak sight of the basic information about the airport,"added Dong.

The airport also established four massage areas and passengers with special needs can enjoy the service. And shuttle buses within the airport are free for people with disabilities too.

The airport also provide simplified inbound procedures for Paralympic family members, setting exclusive areas to separate them from ordinary passengers. According to Dong, wheelchaired passengers only need to use lift twice to finish the procedure and leave the airport.

Seeing-eye-dogs are allowed to enter the cabin with their master and only need to go through an easy veterinary test in the airport before moving to the Paralympic Village. The 30-day quarantine for ordinary import animals is replaced by a more convenient quarantine procedure carried out directly in the Village.

"The barrier-free facilities in the airport can reflects the whole improvement of accessibility in Beijing. We have developed a transportation system with easy access and famous sightseeing spots like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall also have barrier-free passes. Our aim is to develop Beijing into an accessible city," said Wang Hui, Director of Media and Communications Department of Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG).

"The Beijing Paralympics is not only a sports gala, but also a festival for the disabled people. The facilities will serve the Paralympic family members as well as disabled people from all over the world," Wang added.

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