Neglecting People with Disability in Our Society



Persons with disability are integral part of our society. Though in minority, their needs cannot be overlooked. A lot may have been achieved on the front of granting equal rights and opportunities to persons with disability which appear to be the main focus of many governments across the world, but for me, there are some key areas our leaders tend to underestimate.  

The Disabled Persons Act of Ghana and the UN Commitment to Advancement of the Status of Persons with Disabilities only talked about equal rights, equal opportunities, no discrimination against persons with disability among others, but fall short of stating clearly its position on the design of public facilities. This may have informed the resolve of some section of our disable community to advocate for buildings that take their condition into account.

In the recent past, that advocacy has gone on with focus on design of public buildings. The advocacy program wanted to ensure that public buildings are designed in such a way that our physically challenged brothers and sisters can easily access them with little or no difficulty. These public buildings include hospitals, schools, Government offices, supermarkets, departments and places of convenience.

Take a look at our footbridges; they are not disabled-friendly. In other parts of the world, tunnels are built alongside footbridges for persons with disability to use.

Disables go through a lot when trying to access such buildings. They often have to depend on benevolence of members of the public or relatives when they are in public places. Otherwise they would have to struggle on their own which in most cases prove almost impossible!

The advocacy, however, has not received enough public attention and therefore no policy has been put in place to change the existing trend. To be effective, we need a policy that must clearly state that all new public buildings must have such design in the building plan. If this is not included in the building plan permit should not be granted for such buildings to be put up. But in the absence any policy as of now, a number of public buildings are being put up today without any provision for disables to easily have access to them.

I was one of the many who were particularly happy when Mr Ivor K. Greenstreet was elected as the Flagbearer of the Convention Peoples Party for the 2016 polls. His election came as a surprise to many Ghanaians including myself. I really wish to see him become our next president. If there is any way I can single handed vote him into office, I will never spare the least moment to do it.  It is my belief that is the only way we can see aggressive action plan backed by a policy that is in the best interest of persons with disability being implemented. I believe he can advance cause much better than any ordinary person would normally do.


Photo credit: Myjoyonline.com
I can imagine what Mr Ivor K. Greenstreet would have to go through should he become a president. Imagine him having to watch a football match at the stadium. The VVIP stand where he would have to watch a match has not been designed for his convenience. I can also imagine how he would get on board a flight. This exactly what persons with disability go through on daily basis.

One other equally important area which has not gained attention in the advocacy program that has been embarked upon is transportation. Perhaps this aspect has been overlooked because approximately 75% of our transport system is left in the hands of private operators. The fact that there are no proper regulations in place to check operations of these transport operators make it rather very difficult for any advocacy to even be effective.

Even if you look at the Metro Mass buses, you would find that no provision has been made for the disables. If the government has failed to show the way, you can’t expect anything different from others.
In countries where public transport is operated by the government, you would find that a sitting area has been created for persons with disability. Even the bus or train stations have been designed taking into consideration persons with disability.

I think we seem to be neglecting our brothers and sisters with disability. However, until we see a policy in this direction, we cannot see any significant departure from the existing status quo. But I hope those in authority would find it necessary to take the needed action on this matter. Fighting for equal rights and opportunities for persons with disability is as important as making sure they have no difficulty accessing public buildings where most conferences and workshops are held.

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