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Opinions of Friday, 5 September 2014

Columnist: Blege, Alex

The ability act of persons with disability

Disability can befall anyone at anytime. No individual is above what nature can decide to put in his or her way. Anybody is vulnerable to become disabled.
Human societies will always need to deal with the challenges that confront it through many ways. The enactments of laws and absolute adherence to those laws are one of the ways of ensuring that human societies serve justice to every citizen.
In 2006, a bill was passed into law to become the Disability Act, Act 715 (2006). This Act purported to reduce if not eliminate total discrimination towards persons with one form of disability or correct the erroneous perception that able bodied men and women have about disabled bodied men and women and children inclusive.
There are various aspects of our system that is still discriminative towards persons with disability. It ranges from transportation, education, poverty, infrastructural, employment, healthcare, and provision of recreational facilities and the construction of places of worship.
In the transport sector for example, we disable disabled persons without blinking an eye. Our vehicles that run ‘trotro’ for example disable the person with disability. Is it not possible for us to have a policy that ensures that our vehicles that run as public transport are disability friendly? The Metro Mass Transit Bus that moves across the length and breadth of this nation equally is guilty in this respect.
Has it ever occurred to anyone how the deaf and dumb receive medical attention in our health facilities? I mean in the pharmacy shops, clinics, hospitals, and polyclinics. Do we have our health workers having any knowledge in sign language? Do we assume that all citizens of Ghana can hear and talk? These are the ways the system disables the person with disability.
What about the road signs for the blind? Do we have walk ways by our roads where the visually impaired can walk without any hindrance? When a visually impaired person comes to a traffic light, are the ways that alert the him or her to stop, get ready and go?
There is the Disability Common Fund which I believe is to assist persons with disability to overcome their economic challenges and to empower them to become persons with ability in any appropriate shape or form; how then has it been used to change the lives of persons with disability?
I once spoke to a man who is disabled and he found it offensive when churches who organise crusades advertise that the lame, blind, deaf and dumb should be brought for healing.
He says, it rather makes disabled people a centre of unnecessary attention. It is true that a lot of people who were born disabled or got disabled through one misfortunate situation or the other would like to be like their friends who are not disabled in any way.
The best that can be done for any disabled person is to empower that individual to overcome poverty, illiteracy and ignorance of his or her fundamental human rights- this in itself is healing.
There are a few schools that are assisting persons with disability through education and the acquisition of skills. One of the ways any person with disability can be made an able bodied person is to equip that individual with adequate skills to ensure that he or she is indispensable in the development of his or her community.
Persons with disability cannot play their roles in the development of this nation if all we do is to pay lip service to how the nation can empower them. Consequently we kill their morale by making them objects of pity. Sad?
The idea that persons with disability are supposed to be pitied has resulted in the situation where the persons with disability believe that they can only make ends meet when they beg on our streets. This is what has caused many persons with disability to accept that they can only live a fulfilled life by begging on the streets.
The Disability Common Fund should be used to create skills and training centres where persons with disability can be assembled and taught an entrepreneurial skill. This skill and training centre can be one of the ways that they can be taken off the streets and discouraged from begging.
This suggestion in my opinion is one way of involving persons with disability in the development and total independence of our society.
Disability Act 715 (2006) should not just be a law that makes persons with disability feel that they are thought of; it should set up real structures that promote their wellbeing, which taps their talents, and skills. It should establish structures that will give persons with disability confidence to rub shoulders with all and give them independence.
Writer’s email: kw.ameblege@hotmail.com/www.gudzetsekomla.blogspot.com