BEIJING - A spokeswoman said here on Monday that staff workers at the Beijing Paralympic Village have done their best to create a barrier-free environment for the athletes, and have so far received many letters of commendation while seeing not a single complaint letter.
"Different from the Olympic Village, residents of the Paralympic Village are mainly physically and visually disabled athletes, so we try to provide barrier-free infrastructure facilities and services, " said Deng Yaping, spokeswoman of the Beijing Paralympic Village, at a press conference at the Main Press Center for the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
A volunteer helps members of the Mexican delegation at the Paralympic Village in Beijing Sept. 4, 2008. [Xinhua]
Deng, a four-time Olympic table tennis champion, told journalists that it only took the village staff 26 hours to convert the Olympic Village into a barrier-free Paralympic Village.
They equipped and improved 180 ramps in the commercial area and the fitness center, paved 210 sidewalks for the visually-impaired in the village, widened the entry and exit passages in the flag raising square, and established special platforms and parking areas for the disabled at the welcome center and bus stations.
They also set up the classification center, the artificial limb and wheelchair repair center, and the wheelchair storing center within the 26 hours, and replaced all the Olympic logos in the village with the Paralympic logos, said Deng.
She said that "the village staff paid much attention to details when providing services for the Paralympians."
In a bid to provide more conveniences for the Paralympians, the height of all switches and hooks in their apartments have been lowered, soaps in all bathrooms replaced with squeeze-type bath lotion, and umbrellas substituted by raincoats.
Apartment cleaners worked on two shifts and cleaned the apartments once every 1.5 hours in order to ensure a clean and comfortable living environment for the athletes. Buses in the village are equipped with wheelchair fixers for the safety of wheelchair users.
"Staff in the commercial areas have been required to provide `squat-style` service for customers in wheelchairs, so that they can talk to each other at a parallel level," said Deng.
For the convenience of the disabled athletes, only the first three floors of the village`s 42 apartment buildings, which have six to nine floors, were put into use, she added.
VILLAGE ACCOMMODATES OVER 7,000 ATHLETES, OFFICIALS
By September 14, the Beijing Paralympic Village had received 7,379 athletes and officials from 147 countries and regions, 1,736 of whom are wheelchair users, Deng told the press.
The village has already provided 147,349 bottles of water and replaced in all 30,806 bed sheets, pillowslips, quilt covers and 54,729 towels and bath towels for the residents.
The athlete`s dining hall has served a total of 224,315 meals. As the Muslim`s holy month of Ramadan started from September 2, the dinning hall made special arrangements to cater to the need of the Muslim athletes, serving food to them after sunset and till 3 a.m. the next day.
When China`s traditional Mid-Autumn Festival fell on September 14, the dinning hall also provided the village residents with mooncakes of different flavors, as well as written introductions of this Chinese festival in three languages of Chinese, English and French.
To date, the village clinic has provided medical treatment for 2,899 persons from 137 countries and regions, and the religious service center in the village has received 1,665 persons from 61 countries and regions, Deng said.
"While serving the Paralympians whole-heartedly, our staff were also deeply moved by the optimistic attitude and unyielding spirit of the disabled athletes," Deng noted.
"We hope that the athletes will go home not only with medals, but love and affection from all Chinese and foreign staff in our village," she added.