DISABILITY ISSUES DESERVE ATTENTION

THE world on Monday, celebrated the International Disability Day, set aside to raise public awareness about the challenges of People With Disability (PWD) with a call for pragmatic policies to empower and help create opportunities for PWDs to lead productive lives.

The theme for the celebration was “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.”

It is a widely held belief that disability is not inability, but to what extend have we put this popular saying into practice so that we can unearth the potential of PWDs to promote inclusive society.

Prior to marking the day in Ghana, two events happened in the country that brought to question our sincerity in dealing with the issue of disability.

The issue of disability was tabled for discussion on November 26 at the Speakers’ Breakfast Meeting with the leadership of Parliament and Civil Society Organisation, during which they discussed extensively how the Disability Act 2006, Act 715 could be enforced  to give them equal attention in accessing  services and opportunities as other people.

Statistics made available at the meeting indicated that 700,000 people in Ghana live with severe disabilities and need support from society.

Indeed, some gaps have been identified in the Disability Act that needs urgent national attention to resolve. For instance 12 years after the Disability Act was promulgated, Persons With Disability are yet to have access to most public buildings because the structures are unfriendly for their use.

Interestingly a drama unfolded in Parliament House last Friday, when two physically challenged men were prevented from entering the public gallery to observe Parliamentary proceedings.

The reason given by the Marshal (head of security in Parliament) is that the two with the clutches could not be on their feet, as required in Parliamentary proceedings when the Speaker arrives in the chamber.

This approach by the Parliamentary security details appeared to have angered the Ghana Federation of Disabilities. It is ironical that while the security were preventing the disabled from accessing Parliament House, Speaker of Parliament has elevated disability issues on the business of Parliament.

Inasmuch we agree that the rules and regulations pertaining to Parliamentary practice and proceedings must be respected and obeyed by all, it is our considered opinion that there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to dealing with people with peculiar challenges.

We regret the embarrassment caused to the two persons with disabilities and we call for the parliamentary security to rethink its rules and adjust to make room for the physically challenged. Society has the responsibility and ought to help out the disabled and not to increase their pain.

On the occasion of the International Disability Day we extend warmth felicitations to people with disabilities and express our solidarity with them in their quest to take their rightful places in society.

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