China's drivers put best foot forward
More than a dozen people with a left leg disability have gained a driving license after taking training lessons at Shanghai's first drivers' training center for the disabled established in April.
Shanghai Liannong Drivers' Training School co-invested in the center with Shanghai Disabled Persons' Federation to provide an environment for the disabled to learn the skills and pass the exams.
People with a left leg deficiency are allowed for the first time in the country to obtain an automatic geared car license, called a Z license.
The Ministry of Public Security amended the law last September.
The law still prohibits people with other kinds of disabilities from driving.
Seven Shanghai driver training schools including Liannong now offer training courses on Z licenses.
After a negotiation with Shanghai disabled persons' federation, Liannong school management invested about 50,000 yuan (US$6,024) to set up special classrooms and facilities for the disabled.
"The center has been equipped with obstacle-free facilities such as a special channel that offers straight access from the classrooms to the training site," Wu Jiande, a school official, said yesterday.
"Trained workers also stand by to help the special students."
The school charges 5,200 yuan for the 18-week training course for a Z license and offers an 11.7 percent discount to the disabled students, he said.
The disabled persons' federation offers tuition support of several hundred yuan to the applicants, according to Gong Jiatao, a federation spokesman.
Most disabled course participants already own a car or are planning to buy one soon, Wu said.
Automatic gears are few in the city, so the school has only three automatic transmission cars to cater for Z license applicants and about a quarter of them are those with a leg disability.
Wu said they had no plan to introduce more such cars to the training classes and the management didn't expect the less popular course to offer a good profit.
Other schools that offer the training course at similar prices seem to be losing interest in this product and are considering calling it off because of a much smaller enrollment compared with licenses for other car types in the city, according to a recent report on the industry.