CPPCC Member Zhang Haidi: the Disabled Finally Allowed to Drive
2011-03-01Editor:Lin Lin  
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From April 1, 2010, an amended regulation regarding applying and using a driving license came into force, softening the regulations concerning the terms governing a driver's physical condition.

Specifically, the new rule says that after being equipped with supporting facilities, applicants with disabilities in their lower limbs, fingers or having hearing problems are also allowed to apply for a driving license.

The new regulation was well-received. However, behind all the shouts of joy, a few people know that Zhang Haidi, chairperson of the China Disabled Persons Federation and a CPPCC member, had proposed the amendment up to ten years ago.

All her efforts in prompting the acceptance of the proposal should not be forgotten.
Zhang Haidi told her story to a reporter at Xinhua News Agency.

A Broken-winged Bird with a Flying Heart

"When I was kid, traveling on bus would be a happy moment for me, not to say 'flying' on more efficiently-equipped sedans, which was actually beyond my wildest imagination then. For a kid with a disability, there is always an intense longing for 'dynamic movements'," she told the reporter.

"Sometimes, even a colorful and flowing imagination can compensate for the physically challenged body; as I once said, our 'wings' are broken but our hearts would still like to fly."

In 1980 Zhang Haidi acquired an electric wheelchair which provided greater mobility. Before that, Zhang had been using a hand-made one with four wooden wheels. "I could not move it myself, and if I wanted to go anywhere I had to ask for other people's help," she recalled.

CPPCC Member Zhang Haidi: the Disabled Finally Allowed to Drive
Zhang Haidi attends the closing ceremony of the fifth national conference of the China Disabled Persons Federation on November 13, 2009. [cnsphoto]

The old-fashioned hand propelled wheelchair was big, heavy and tiring to use. Even so, according to Zhang, in 1985, a group of people with lower lime disabilities used such wheelchairs to travel all the way from Shaanxi Province to Beijing. Zhang told the reporter that she was deeply moved by their spirit.

"For such an incredibly long journey, their hands and arms must have hurt so much," she said.
"All the hard work was just to prove that they could make it."

Zhang Haidi also told the reporter about her trip to Japan in 1988 which had a great influence on her and actually inspired her to begin her campaign.

"One day, I was informed that the owner of a factory comprised mostly of disabled workers would like to show me around his factory," Zhang said. After boarding his sedan which had been sent to pick her up, she was asked to buckle-up and use the safety belt. "He told me that he might drive fast," Zhang recalled and informed the reporter that the warm-hearted factory owner was also suffering from spinal injuries just like her.

Zhang was surprised by the fact that he was allowed to drive in his country. And when he began to speed along the highway, Zhang could not help enjoying the free flying feeling and realized that the limited physical powers of disabled people could be compensated by fast-moving automobiles to some extent.

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