A new university for people with disabilities in Wuhan

Society & Culture

Prejudice and even official policies have made access to education (and work) difficult for China’s more than 85 million people living with disabilities. A new school in Wuhan aims to change that with programs that offer special needs education and teacher training.

More than 85 million people in China said they were living with disabilities in the 2010 national census according to (in Chinese) the China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF). But according to Sixth Tone, “Most Chinese see disability as something to be overcome or pitied, not something to be accommodated through accessible infrastructure [and] in China’s public spaces, they are largely invisible.”

Wheelchair ramps that are too steep to use, tactile sidewalks for the visually impaired that guide pedestrians straight into walls, and other badly designed “accessibility” infrastructure — or more often, its complete absence — are some reasons that people with disabilities are rare on Chinese streets and in malls and office buildings: It’s simply too difficult for many of them to go out. Even worse, because of prejudice and sometimes official policy, many people with disabilities are unable to attend schools and face discrimination in the job market. Prejudice remains, even though China has passed various laws to better integrate people with disabilities into society since the 1980s. 

This week, however, brings good news for the 3.8 million people living with disabilities in Hubei Province: Central China Normal University and the Hubei Provincial Disabled Persons Federation have jointly announced (in Chinese) the establishment of a School of Integrated Education in Wuhan. The school will provide education for people with disabilities, train teachers in special education, and produce “national-level” curriculum resources and teaching materials.  

Central China Normal University has been at the forefront of special education in China since 1989, when it became the first university in China to offer master’s and doctoral degrees in special education.  

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