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Mainland China makes few provisions for disabled people. With the country undergoing an economic boom, many cities resemble building sites at present whit uneven, obstacle-strewn paving, intense crowds and vehicle traffic, and few access ramps. Public transport is also generally inaccessible to wheelchair users, though some airlines, as well as a few of the upmarket hotels in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and even Urumqi, have experience in assisting disabled in particular, the Holiday Inn and Hilton chains often have rooms designed for wheelchair users.

Hong Kong is about the only place in China re widespread provision is made for disabled travelers, as detailed in the Hong Kong Tourist Association’s excellent free booklet. Hong Kong Access Guide for Disabled Visitors . Macau, too, has some facilities, though they’re more limited.

Given the situation in most of China, it may be worth considering an organized tour – the contacts giver below will be able to help you arrange this or assist you in researching your own trip. If you want to be more impendent, it’s important to become an authority on where you must be self-reliant and where you may expect help, especially regarding transport and accommodation in China. Make sure you take spares of any specialist clothing or equipment, extra supplies of drugs (carried with you if you fly), and a pre­scription including the generic name – in English and Chinese characters – in case of emergency. If there’s an association repre­senting people with your disability, contact them early on in the planning process.

Contacts for travelers with disabilities:

  • Access-Able www.access-able.com. Online resource for travelers with disabilities.
  • Directions Unlimited 123 Green Lane, Bedford Hills, NY 10507 Tel: 1-800/533-5343 or 914/241­1700. Travel agency specializing in bookings for people with disabilities.
  • Disability Travel www.disabiltytravel.com Arranges all aspects of travel for the mobility-impaired, including tours to major sights in China.
  • Mobility International USA 451 Broadway, Eugene, OR 97401 Tel:541/343-1284 http://www.miusa.org/. Information and referral services, access guides, tours and exchange programmes, Annual membership $35 (Includes quarterly newsletter).
  • Society for the Advancement of Travelers with Handicaps (SATH) 347 5th Ave, New York, 10016 Tel: 212/447-7284. www.sath.org