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5 Dec, 2013

About 75% of Chinese PwD’s unemployed


Beijing (CNTV) December 04, 2013 – December 3rd marks the United Nations World Day for Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme is: “Break Barriers, Open Doors.” But despite many reforms in China to boost their employment, opportunities for handicapped job-seekers in the world’s second-largest economy remain far from equal, with just over one in four disabled Chinese holding a job.

Grace Brown met one who took matters into his own hands, by starting a business of his own.

Cao Jun is a tech entrepreneur in Beijing, with more than 2,000 people working for him across China.

But success hasn’t come easy. He was born blind.

“Growing up, my greatest wish was to be like my friends. My teacher told me it would never be possible, because I can’t see. I transferred to a school for the blind. There was less pressure, but after graduating, I couldn’t find work anywhere, besides a blind massage parlor. It was exhausting, but there was no choice.” Cao said.

Cao saved up to start a business of his own, making apps to help blind people text and walk… With the help of many blind employees.

At first, no one invested.

“When they saw I was blind, people walked out of interviews. They didn’t think working for a company managed by a blind person had a future.” Cao said.

But by cooperating with China’s biggest search engine, Baidu, business is now expanding.

“Please give a text to Yang Lin.” “Ok, please say your message.” “I won’t be home for dinner tonight.” “Confirming your message: Did you say, ‘I won’t be home for dinner tonight?’ Send or delete?” “Send.” “Your text has been send.”

Reporter: “China’s new leaders are undertaking sweeping reforms, to rebalance the country’s economy and include more people in it. But when it comes to getting a job millions of China’s disabled citizens are still being left behind.”

Official data shows by the end of last year, just over 22 of the more than 82 million disabled Chinese had a job. And among those who did, most were in the countryside.

China has taken steps to close the gap, setting up a quota that demands employers reserve at least 1.5 percent of all jobs for disabled workers. But many prefer to pay the fine.

“Today, there are still many problems for disabled people getting jobs in China. Often, their skills, training or education are very different. Companies are also less willing to hire them, because they worry about many things. For one, they can’t be fired as easily, because the firm’s reputation may suffer,” Ma Guangying, deputy-director of China Disabled Persons’ Federation in Haidian, said.

Despite this, Cao is optimistic.

“I hope that through new technology, more blind people can leave the hardships of living darkness behind. I hope we can bring them light, and new ways of finding work.” Cao said.