A document to provide specifications on how buildings, roads, recreational centres and other public places should be designed so as to make them accessible to all, especially Persons with Disability (PWDs) has been launched in Accra yesterday.
“The Ghana Standards on Accessibility Designs (GSAD)” is expected to be a useful tool for people involved in the design, implementation, supervision and decision making on various programmes where accessibility is a component to ensure they were disability friendly.
The document had become necessary after a moratorium to ensure that owners and occupiers of public buildings made their buildings accessible to and available for use by persons with disability had expired on August 11, this year.
In 2006, Parliament passed the PWD Act (Act 715), to ensure the protection and promotion of the rights of PWDs with section 60 of the law enjoining stakeholders to ensure that public places where disability friendly, however, little or no efforts had been made to achieve that goal.
Launching the document which was jointly developed by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) in consultation with the National Council on Persons with Disability (NCPD), the Deputy Minister of MoGCSP, Mrs. Della Sowah noted that, accessibility and inclusiveness in society was a human right that must be protected and upheld in all facets of society.
“One of the key elements of empowering PWDs is by ensuring that all public spaces and facilities are accessible to everyone. This we believe will help reduce stigma and enhance integration measures for PWDs”, she maintained.
Mrs. Sowah explained that government would work with the NCPD to create awareness on the PWD Act and the GSAD to ensure they were complied with.
“We are committed to ensure that PWDs have access to public places as required by law so we will provide training to relevant institutions on the requirements of the standards and also set up monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the standards are implemented to the latter”, she pointed out.
The Deputy Minister disclosed that the GSAD would be put in both braille and audio formats to make it more accessible to all persons in the society.
She assured government’s commitment to integrate issues of PWDs in social protection policies to make their lives much easier and comfortable adding that, “disabled persons deserve equal rights as all of us here and that is what we will promote as a government”.
The Deputy Executive Director of the GSA, Mr. Kofi Nagatey noted that ignorance and lack of enforcement has impeded previous accessibility laws especially for PWDs and was optimistic that the new document would ensure quality and non-discriminatory standards for PWDs in the country.
“Though this document should have come a long time ago, it is better late than never and we believe it will help us to take action against marginalisation of the disabled in our society”, he said.
Mr. Bashirudeen Koray, a board member of the NCPD called for stringent efforts to address the gaps in protecting the rights of PWDs in the country especially as Ghana was a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD).
The launch was attended by representatives of the Ghana Architects Association, Town and Country Planning, Ghana Institute of Engineers and Planners, Disabled People Organisations (DPOs), Coalition of non-governmental organisations on disability, traditional rulers and other state institutions.
Sets of tricycles were presented to the National Federation of Physically Challenged Persons to promote their mobility in the society.
By Abigail Annoh