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March 5, 2003

Bus workers learn to sign

From:, China - 05 Mar 2003

Bus conductors in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province in the northwest, are being trained to use sign language to provide better service for deaf or mute passengers.

The Lanzhou Public Transport Co. has trained more than 1,600 conductors on seven bus routes between the central railway station, major commercial district and tourist destinations.

"We have started with bus routes that carry large numbers of travelers who need to be told precisely where they are so they don't get lost," said Yang Weihai, an executive with the company.

According to Yang, all bus conductors in Lanzhou will be trained to use sign language in the near future.

After a four-day training course in mid-February, Gao Xiuyun, a conductor on route No. 74, still finds sign language "difficult."

"In fact, we rarely have passengers suffering from significant hearing loss or who can't speak at all," she admitted.

However, Gao said the move to promote sign lang-uage on buses was "signifi-cant" and "worthwhile."

"At least we know how to communicate with these people," she said.

Deafness in varying degrees affects more than 20 million Chinese, more than any other disability, a report from the All-China Disabled Persons' Federation shows.

Sign language is the third language for Lanzhou bus conductors, who have been taught English since last October for the convenience of the growing number of overseas tourists to the city.

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