Social insurance and better service for disabled people will top the agenda of China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF) for the next five years.
Federation chairman Deng Pufang said this at the opening ceremony of the 5th CDPF national congress at the Great Hall of the People on Tuesday.
President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other state leaders attended the opening ceremony.
China has made excellent progress in the past 30 years in improving the life of the disabled, Vice Premier Li Keqiang said in his opening address made on behalf of the central government.
A total of 612 delegates are representing about 83 million disabled people in the country at the two-day congress.
Held every five years, the congress is the highest national platform for the physically challenged to speak about their difficulties and improve their living conditions.
Li urged organizations at all levels to provide the disabled with more help and services. Governments at all levels should raise their awareness about disabled workers, pass more favorable policies and spend more money to build more disabled-friendly public facilities.
According to a report presented by Deng, the country has over 19,000 rehabilitation centers, 1,655 special education schools, 3,127 employment agencies and 5,998 law service centers for the physically challenged.
These institutions' efforts have helped rehabilitate more than 8.5 million people, and the low-cost cooperative healthcare system has benefited 86.9 percent disabled people in rural areas, the report said.
Disabled athletes have benefited greatly from the special training program, which has nurtured 2.6 million people.
The 332 athletes who helped China top the medal table in the Paralympic Games two months ago were products of such a program, too.
The remarkable performance of Chinese disabled athletes in the Paralympics and the Shanghai 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games prove how effective the development program is, Deng said.
"We are standing at a new starting line, and have to accelerate the development of our disabled people," Deng said. "We expect the living standards of all disabled people to reach a relatively comfortable level by 2020."
But obstacles, such as discrimination against the physically challenged, still need to be overcome before complete rehabilitation of the physically challenged is realized, he said.
"The disabled (then) will move with the rest of the people toward a bright future," he said.
(China Daily November 12, 2008)