University entrance now possible for blind students in China

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Thursday, 17 April 2014 15:09pm

Thanks to a change in regulation, blind and vision impaired students in China will be given access to mainstream higher education.

The Chinese government has released regulations stating that the national university entrance exam must be made available in Braille and electronic formats. Prior to this, these students were unable to attend mainstream universities, which drastically reduced their chances of employment and equal participation in society.

The news has been welcomed by the international human rights community, with Human Rights Watch’s China director Sophie Richardson saying, “Making exams accessible to the blind would help to minimize discrimination against and maximize respect for people with disabilities in China. This is an important breakthrough after years of advocacy by disability rights advocates in China.”

Last year, Human Rights Watch published a report on the barriers to equality experienced by people with disabilities in China. This included access to participation in education, and the provision of accessible materials in schools, colleges and tertiary institutions.

Under Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which China ratified in 2008, all students are entitled to childhood and tertiary education. The Convention states that signatory countries must facilitate “the learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication and orientation and mobility skills, and facilitating peer support and mentoring.”

Australia is also a signatory to the Convention. The Disability Discrimination Act protects the rights of people with disability to access all levels of education. In 2013, Media Access Australia released Australia’s first report on how access for blind and vision impaired students can be provided in schools, and how education can be made more equitable.

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