Friday, September 5, 2008

Long Day of going here and there.

This morning we walked from the village to the paralympic green. We saw the Bird's Nest and the Aquatic Center.

We had intended to go shopping at the large paralympic superstore, but it won't open until tomorrow. We also wanted to see some of the friends and familywho have already arrived in Beijing. The green was closed to spectators and the Superstore was closed. Since we have our athlete credentials we were ableto walk through the Olympic green without having to worry about any other foot traffic.

It was a good opportunity for the team to take photos.

After navigating through the green we said hello to the family and friends. From there we jumped onto a city bus, made one transfer and arrived back atthe village.

The city busses have flat screen TV's in them. CNN like TV programming with stock market info, business and breaking news broadcast on the city bus.

All of the buses talk in both English and Chinese, but if you don't know Chinese getting around would be a formidable task.

The talking bus announcements are something like this: Chinese announcement of next stop, English, "next stop is," followed by the Chinese words for thestop. Few people speak English, but everyone is exceedingly helpful.

There are audible crossings and count-down cross walks in Beijing- lots of them.

Beijing uses a rapid tick type of accessible pedestrian signal, but it is very different from any type I have seen in the USA. I will take my digital recorderand get some samples of the bus and the pedestrian signals.

Beijing has also taken to tactile way-finding. There are grooves in the sidewalks in and around the village for individuals who are blind to use to helpwith orientation and mobility. It appears that these were not end user tested- or the Chinese use a different type of cane tip...

I have seen way finding on the sidewalks work well when I was in Japan. I was able to navigate really easily and independently by following tiles inlaidinto the middle of the sidewalks in Japan.

Well, this is Not so true in China- though the inclusion of this type of environmental adaptation certainly represents a more inclusive way of looking atpublic spaces.

There are a lot of truncated domes in China. They are primarily made of cement. Clearly when this part of the country was being designed someone thoughtabout people with vision loss. Plastic truncated domes are installed at most stairwells and cement ones are at almost all street corners.

I have gotten a lot of great Braille here in China. All of the materials I have received have been in grade one Braille- easiest for everyone from the155 countries here to understand I suppose. There are some Braille books for sale over in one of the athletes gift shops. They are all in Chinese. WhenI went to give the books a feel the store clerk kind-of laughed- to her the books are hard to understand because they are in Braille. For me the booksare impossible because they are written in Chinese. So what exactly is contained in these books remains a mystery to us both!

Tonight we have the USA flag raising ceremony. in the International Zone. Team USA will look our best and be dressed in the delegation approved apparel.

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