The first guide dog for the blind was introduced to Hangzhou over 10 years ago. Today, they are accepted and seen as good friends of the city, local media outlets reported on May 7.
Cai Qionghui is a blind instrument tuner living in Fuyang district. She offers door-to-door service across the city and she says her guide dog Aladdin is her best assistant.
“Some of my clients invite Aladdin in and he will be very happy, just like an innocent child,” said Cai in Hangzhou China. “I am glad that more and more people are starting to see Aladdin not as a common dog, but as a friend.”
“Sometimes I play the pipa (a Chinese lute with four strings) at charity shows. The organizers or volunteers are always more than happy to take care of Aladdin for me,” she added. “Noticing my absence, he will be upset, but calms down when he hears my music.”
Guide dog Cesar accompanies his owner on a subway in Hangzhou. [Photo/hangzhou.com.cn]
Xu Liyong in Xiaoshan district told local media outlets that his guide dog Cesar is welcome in public transport vehicles, as well as in scenic areas.
He added that when he and Cesar board a bus, the driver will tell him where the empty seats are. Cesar will sit on all fours between Xu’s seat to save more space for other passengers.
“Young people are more open-minded and are welcoming to Cesar, while some older people may be wary and question why Cesar is on the bus,” Xu said. “But a guide dog must go through meticulous training and exams to guarantee safety for both owners and the public.”
“It is more convenient for us on the subway. Staff members of Hangzhou Metro were trained to help us and most of the passengers are kind. Some of them make space for us, some explain rules on guide dogs to those who are confused, and some may come close to pet Cesar and take photos.”
However, both Cai and Xu mentioned that tactile paving on sidewalks are not maintained well enough, especially in some old streets or areas that are under construction.
According to Hangzhou’s urban administration bureau, they listed about 57,000 issues concerning visually-impaired people and guide dogs. Over 40 percent of them have been solved and the rest will be tended to this year.
“Tactile paving was added in a valley close to my work place one month after I gave my feedback. Now, a community worker will patrol the valley to clean sidewalks for the disabled,” said Cai. “I have confidence that Hangzhou will make the city more accessible for us and our dogs.”
Hangzhou leads Chinese cities in terms of the building of a barrier-free environment, said Fang Zhou, a barrier-free environment specialist at Zhejiang University.
He also noted that Hangzhou still has a long way to go before it meets international standards, citing that 3.22 million people with visual impairment have more than 10,000 guide dogs in the United States, while in China 17 million people with visual impairment have less than 200 guide dogs.
Company Name: The Information Office of Hangzhou Municipal Government
Contact Person: Cai Jingwen
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