WORLD DISABILITY DAY
Breaking the barriers for people with disability
When barriers are broken down and people with disabilities are empowered to participate in society, the entire community benefits. Disability inclusion is, therefore, necessary to achieve development and progress for all, writes M Taslim Uddin
THE United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, ratified by the government of Bangladesh in 2007, provides a reference for persons with disabilities to include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Persons with disabilities make up an estimated 15 per cent of the world’s population, 80 per cent of which reside in developing countries. In Bangladesh, about 15 per cent of the population has some form of disability. We must do more to break the barriers which segregate people with disabilities, in many cases forcing them to the margins of society.
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a day to celebrate and acknowledge the experience and capabilities of people with disabilities, and also a chance for people and organisations all over the world to focus on measures to support greater integration and equality for people with disabilities.
Globally, the estimated one billion people with disabilities face many barriers to participation in all aspects of society. The result is that people with disabilities do not enjoy access to society and services on an equal basis with others, including employment, education, transportation, political participation and justice.
Medical barriers that prevent disabled people from participating in society are in that they cannot be addressed by society. Illness, pain, fatigue and weakness: all these can be barriers to participation in society and leading independent, full and active lives.
Social barriers include those in the built environment, such as access into and around buildings and public transport and access to easy to understand information. Most of the government and nongovernment hospitals including Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and Dhaka Medical College Hospital do not have wheelchair-accessible ramps for easy access. The situation is worse in other public places like airports, train and bus stations. A lack of provision of services, aids and adaptations can also be a disabling factor.
Addressing the health, education, employment, and social participation needs of people living with disabilities is fundamental to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. We need to help people with disabilities to gain equitable access to opportunities to participate and contribute to their communities.
When barriers are broken down and people with disabilities are empowered to participate in society, the entire community benefits. Disability inclusion is, therefore, necessary to achieve development and progress for all. The health worker, the social worker, the political party, the NGO with the institutes and the people’s committed government need to work together to meet the challenge. A disabled person is our child, brother or sister; they have much to offer if given a fair chance to do so. We need to make a barrier free environment and society for them.
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