The Systems for People with Disabilities in China


With the constant economic development in China’s society, a sound and complete economic system is needed and a system for the citizens who need special care. Undoubtedly, the social system in China does not fully take care all of the social classes, especially for the people with disabilities. The systems still have a long way to go. Compared to that of the U.S, the social system, including the special education for the people with various disabilities in each age, the special physical designs that meet their needs, and most importantly, the niches that fit, is still at the primitive stage in China. To better understand and improve such flawed system, there are things about the current situation to be revealed, including both advantages and disadvantages of the system of U.S and China regarding financial aid and public equipment for people with disabilities. Finally, the paper will draw recommendations based on the current situation and the anticipation of the required systems.

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Living with disabilities is a common phenomenon both in developed and developing nations. It is estimated that all round the globe, more than 650 million people live with some sort of disability, including blindness, autism, physical deformities, hearing impairment, speech handicap, and deafness, among others. The manner in which the different forms of disabilities are conceived has changed over time. In this research, disability is defined as having one or more physical or psychological abnormality or the abnormalities in the human anatomic structure or the loss of a certain function or organ that affect the ability of an individual to carry out normal functions. In addition, disabilities hamper individuals’ participation in their social life, studies, work and various community settings. Despite the series of administrative and positive legislative actions and the numerous works of organizations that deal with disability. There is a remarkable improvement of people living with disabilities. However, they remain a highly susceptible group, and significant numbers of disabled people still encounter a wide range of difficulties in our contemporary society, which is experiencing an incredible market-oriented transition.

Numerous studies have explored tendencies and trends in disability among individual in different populations. As prevalence estimates indicate, the United States had more than 51 million disabled people aged between 6 and 12 years in 2002. The prevalence is increased by almost 19% after 3 years. According to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2015, one out of every adult has a form of disability in the United States, with the most common functional form of disability being mobility limitation. It was also found that people in the Southern states had the highest percentages of people with disabilities.

Recently, China was rated as the largest developing country in the world. More than 80 million people are living with some form of disabilities today. Despite the fact that China conceits itself in producing high-scoring and highly gifted students, it is approximated that more than 40% of people living with disabilities in are illiterate as they have never been to any formal school. Although China’s government figures display near universal admission of kids joining primary education, there is a wide gap for those with disabilities. In fact, more than 28% are not getting the basic education to which they are entitled to (Basic information about people with disabilities., 2004). Surprisingly, in higher education guidelines, the government permits Universities to bar or restrict access to the application for students with mental and physical disabilities.

Throughout China, young people with various disabilities encounter discrimination in learning institutions. In fact, some have indicated as being denied admissions, and if admitted, they are asked to transfer with no lucid explanation. In addition, learning institutions do not offer appropriate and highly needed classroom conditions that would significantly assist children with disabilities overcome the challenges related to their distinct conditions. Throughout the world, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of inclusion, with the United States championing in the trend. The concept of inclusion refers to the way of making mainstream education available and accessible to children living with disabilities, which is an essential element for apprehending and realizing the right to education. The human rights commission has recently mandated ensuring an inclusive education system all through the levels of education or the curriculum of a state.

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As mentioned above, educational systems in the United States are inclusive. People living with disabilities have been given an opportunity to enroll in the mainstream education, where they seem to do better as compared to the segregated educational system or while in the special schools designed for their special needs. In order to help children with disabilities explore the heights of their potential in school and to ensure that they engage in full educational participation, plans known as 504 plans have been developed (Hanafin et al., 2007). The 504 plans are used by the mainstream educational system and are not eligible for the special curriculum system. They are designed according to a child with disability’s specific needs, which has benefited them greatly. The 504 plans are made eligible to children with disabilities that indicate accommodations regarding the child. In fact, the 504 plan accommodations have been very helpful to children with disabilities because they present them with an opportunity to perform on par with their more able peers. The 504 plans usually include the disabled child’s assistive technological requirements, for instance, tape recorders and keyboards necessary for note taking, as well as a wheelchair that helps with mobility or ensuring that children with disabilities can access to environments just as their other peers. Providing education to all, regardless of their physical and psychological needs, has been the motto of the American learning system, which has greatly enabled children with disabilities to move from their dependence status to acquire a more independent status. Sponsorships and grants are also offered to students with special needs as well as those from underrepresented portions of the American society.

On the other hand, even though Chinese government endorsed the full inclusion system, there has been no consistent and a clear strategy to attain this vision. China continues to dedicate very few resources to the learning of students with special needs in the mainstream education system while at the same time engaging in the active development of the corresponding system of separated special learning institutions. The main advantage of an inclusive system of learning is that not only does it benefit the pupils with special needs, but also it is a system that helps in meeting the diverse requisites of all students and acts as a means of attaining more quality education and an improved inclusive society in the long run. True to say is that the Chinese government has taken strong positive strides in the promotion of the rights accorded to people living with disabilities.

In the international realm, China supported advancing and adopting the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). On a state level, it has formulated and enacted laws aimed at protecting individuals with disabilities (Xu et al., 2005). However, a closer look at the manner in which people with disabilities receive education exposes a grimmer picture. Official statistics indicate that 40% of individuals with disabilities have never been to school and that 15 million people live in dire poverty and live on less than a dollar per day. Although the basic education is compulsory for all, the rates of children joining primary education reveal otherwise, as about 28% of children with disabilities are not receiving a basic education. Those who are lucky to be admitted into the mainstream education system are discriminated against. While some schools require parents of disabled children to accompany them to school every day, others convince parents to take their disabled children from schools (Human Rights Watch., 2013). The Chinese government also fails to provide reasonable accommodation for students with special needs, such as in the case of the United States.

In China, rarely do students with disabilities go beyond primary education. This is because the Chinese administration upholds a system of physical examination for high school and for individuals who wish to join higher learning institutions. The government advises universities to bar people with various forms of physical and mental disabilities. Even the blind students who get access to universities face a wide range of challenges because the government does not readily provide electronic versions of the university admission exam or in Braille version. Despite the existence of grants and sponsorships in the educational system, students with special needs will always remain disadvantaged due to the governmental guidelines that hinder them from enrolling in higher learning institutions.

Inadequate human and financial resources are always the issues with Chinese systems. Mostly, the lack of teachers who specialize in special education, particularly teaching children with autism, is the biggest problem that hinders the enrollment process of children with autism being able to fit into regular schools, when it comes to inclusion (Xinhua, 2016). Nearly one percent of the Chinese population has nowadays been diagnosed with autism, while in the United States; one in every sixty-eight has autism spectrum disorder. However, in the United States, mistakes have been made as special caregivers or teachers are not able to treat learners with disabilities properly, engendering the negative impressions such as physical abuse or sexual assaults, the available and reliable system for training qualified is well-established today. Besides, thanks to the government’s funding, National Association of Special Education Teachers, which also known as NASET, is able to provide the society with its well-trained specialists. On the other hand, allocation of resources from the Chinese government is still not managed well enough to support a seamless training system.

The universal elaborative designs do not completely cover every aspect of life. The curved designs and special sidewalk for people with blindness, while partially ubiquitous, cannot be well used. The frequency of people without disabilities unintentionally walking on the sidewalk can damage the sidewalks; therefore, people with blindness might not be able to sense the sidewalk, which is troublesome. Only when public awareness improves can such designs maximize their utility to serve better the people in need. Some of the sightseeing are still not equipped with designs, although they are supposed to exist. These public restrooms without paths for the people on wheelchair seem only open to individuals can walk. Still, if more educations about the purposes of universal designs or other equipment can be involved, the rights of people who are relatively disadvantaged can be somehow respected.

Transitions occur at various stages for people with disabilities. In fact, adulthood is one of them. Setting attainable and practical goals ahead of time can go a long way in ensuring that children with disabilities are able to make easier transitions. In the United States, the transition to adulthood is much easier as compared to that of China because education prepares students with disabilities to move from the state of dependency to independence. The United States’ department of labor also promotes effective employment and work policies that ensure the labor workforce includes people with disabilities. In contrast, people living with disabilities in China are not competent and cannot be actively involved in the labor workforce due to the reason. They lack sufficient education, which is essential for competency and effectiveness in the labor workforce (Zhang, 2007). Just like in the United States, the right to employment or work is guaranteed by the Chinese law, which indicates that discrimination of any kind should not be directed to those people living with disabilities in employment, promotion, payroll for labor, an in engagement as well as in other aspects. However, they cannot match their able counterparts because of the minimal education that is provided by their exclusive educational system.

Conclusion and Recommendations

In order to ensure a system that promotes the rights of people with disabilities in China, the government should engage in various things. The Chinese government should make a commitment towards promoting an actual inclusive system of education. This can be obtained through revising the existing laws and drawing a clear strategic plan to ensure the goals are achieved. More specifically, the government of China should review the regulations and laws regarding people living with disabilities, from the time they are born their health, education and in the labor workforce. The government should also develop a time-bound tactical plan in their move towards an inclusive system, which promotes quality education and enhances inclusion in all aspects of the lives within Chinese society. Specific indicators should be developed for children living with disabilities to measure their access to education. Most importantly, the government of China should provide financial aid and other resources, including well-trained teaching personnel in the mainstream schools. Therefore, the students with disabilities will be provided with reasonable accommodation and receive all the benefits that their counterparts enjoy.



Basic information of people with disabilities. (2004).  China Statistical Yearbook 2003, Beijing, China Statistics Press.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). 53 million adults in the US live with Disabilities. Available at

Hanafin, J., Shevlin, M., Kenny, M., & Neela, E. M. (2007). Including young people with disabilities: Assessment challenges in higher education. Higher Education54(3), 435-448. Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Human Rights Watch. (2013). “As long as they let Us Stay in Class” Barriers to Education for Persons with Disabilities in China. Available at

Xinhua. (2016). “Autism’s hard inclusion into Chinese classes.” China Daily. Retrieved on April 18.

Xu, J., Wang, M., Xiang, Y., & Hu, X. (2005). Quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities in China: A cross-culture perspectives study. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research49(10), 745-749.

Zhang, E. G. (2007). Employment of People with Disabilities: International Standards and Domestic Legislation and Practices in China. Syracuse Journal of International Law & Commerce, (Spring2007, Vol. 34 Issue 2, p517-561, 45p), 517-561

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