GHANA FEDERATION OF THE DISABLED (GFD)
COMMEMORATION OF INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITY
3rd December, 2014
Since 1992, United Nations set aside December 3rd of each year as the International Day of Persons with Disability (IDPWDs). The annual commemoration of the day has the following objectives among others:
- Promotion of understanding of disability issues
- Mobilization of support for the dignity, rights and well-being of PWDs, and
- Increase of awareness of the benefits to be derived from the integration of PWDs in every aspect of political, economic and cultural life.
This year, the commemoration is also intended to further raise awareness of disability as a cross-cutting development issue, and to usher in the sustainable development goals which will succeed the MDGs.
Every year UN gives the theme on which the worldwide observance of the day hinges. The theme for the 2014 celebration of the IDPWDs is SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: THE PROMISE OF TECHNOLOGY”. Since the cradle of mankind, technology has always impacted in the way people live, work and play. For instance, the information technology has led to increased connectivity between and among individuals, between businesses, and has even made the world a global village, where everybody is a neighbor to the other. One may therefore not be in error to conclude that the reasoning for curving this year’s theme around technology could be to harness the power of technology for the promotion of inclusion and accessibility for full and equal participation of PWDs in society and to shape the future of sustainable development for all. In spite of the enormous benefits of technology, it is regrettable that not all people, especially PWDs, the world’s largest minority, can afford or have access to benefits of the technology. This claim is sustained by the invisibility of PWDs in mainstream development framework and processes.
Ghana’s theme for the commemoration of the Day, MAKING GHANA ACCESSIBLE FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITY: A CONCERN FOR ALL, goes beyond the international theme centered on technology to include the breaking down of environmental, especially the built environment, communication, and attitudinal barriers, to pave way for the enjoyment of full and equal rights on equal basis by PWDs.
The Ghana Federation of the Disabled will like to use this commemorative day to make the following appeals to government:
- To make assistive technology available, affordable and accessible to PWDs in the area of communication, information, and mobility
- To adopt sign language as one of the languages for official activities and for instruction, especially the training of professionals
- To without delay produce and gazette the national standards for the provision of accessibility in the country. Some section of the public are already prepared and willing to comply with Section 7 of Act 715, but due to the absence of national standards, some are constructing what can best be described as “killer ramps because they are steep with very slippery surfaces. Such ramps being dotted around the country will not be useful for PWDs and will therefore not solve the physical accessibility problem in the country. The absence of the national standards is likely to provide a haven corporate organizations and government ministries, departments, and agencies failing to meet the deadline of the ten-year moratorium which ends in 2016.
- To implement all pro-disability legislations and policies, starting the setting up of the national implementation and monitoring committee, as per article 33 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of PWDs (CRPD), to implement the provisions of the CRPD and to review the PWDs Act 715 as per article 4(b) of the said Convention.
- To convert the national council on PWDs into an authority to give it the needed autonomy to carry out its mandatory functions which include proposing and evolving policies and strategies to enable persons with disability enter and participate in the mainstream of the national development process, monitoring and evaluating disability policies and programmes, formulating strategies for broad-based inter-sectoral, interdisciplinary involvement and participation in the implementation of the national disability policy, promoting studies and research on issues of disability, providing education and information to the public on issues of Disability and maintaining a register of persons with disability, among others.
GFD also wants to call on the various religious bodies to make the gospel available and accessible to PWDs. For instance, most church buildings, parishes, and mosques are physically not accessible to PWDs. Sermons or preaching hardly includes sign language. The pulpits are not also used to sensitize the congregation on disability.
GFD further calls on the media and Civil society organisations (CSOs) to join the crusade in promoting understanding on disability, and working towards a barrier-free country where PWDs will enjoy fully and equal rights on equal basis, at all levels, with those without disability , including participation in decision-making processes.
The Federation salutes all Persons with Disabilities as we commemorate this day and pledges its resolve to work for the recognition and promotion our rights in Ghana.
Thank you and May God Bless you All.