There are over 1 billion people with disabilities in the world – World Report on Disability, 2011.
Disability is a human rights issue. It is a human rights issue for reasons that include that people with disabilities experience inequalities, often have their dignities violated and some are denied their autonomy because of their disability.Poorly enacted policies that do not consider the needs of people with disabilities; negative attitudes of health care workers, co-workers, employers and others; lack of provision of services targeted at people with disabilities; poor funding; lack of accessibility; and exclusion from decision-making about their lives, are some environmental factors that impede the participation of people with disabilities.
Globally, the rate of disability is increasing due to factors such as ageing populations and rising occurrence of chronic illnesses. Over 1 billion people are living with disability worldwide. People with disabilities are more likely to have unequal access to health care, education and employment opportunities, and experience heightened social exclusion through lack of accessible and assistive social facilities and technologies, discrimination and stigma, among others. They also experience worse socioeconomic realities and higher rates of poverty.
Disability has no one definition. In fact, the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD) states that disability is an evolving concept and defines it thus: ‘persons with disabilities 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’
To avoid barriers that hinder persons with disabilities and overcome the disadvantages they experience, the World Report on Disability recommends, among others, that governments should:
- Enable access to mainstream policies, services and systems, i.e. governments and other stakeholders should ensure people with disabilities have equal opportunities as others to participate in activities and services intended for the general public;
- Provide access to specific services and programmes for people with disabilities including provision of support services and rehabilitative equipment such as wheelchairs and hearing aids;
- Develop a national strategy and plan specifically for disability, which stipulates the long-term plan for improving the wellbeing of people living with disability;
- Include people with disabilities in decision-making and in enacting policies, laws and service provision. This is obvious as they have the best insight about their disability and situation;
- Improve funding for services, such as health care and education services, for people with disabilities; improve data collection on disabilities, strengthen research into disabilities, increase public awareness and understanding of disability and improve human resources capacity through education, especially of public officials and health care providers.
The concept of disability inclusion is not a new one, but it is more important today than ever before due to the increasing number of people with disabilities. Disability inclusion is about ensuring people living with disability have equal participation as their peers in everyday life; in making decisions about their lives and are not socially excluded in any way.
“My perception about people with disability has changed. It is not up to me to say that they cannot do it, but up to them.” – Ms. Happy Amos, Roshan Global Services Limited, Niger State
“Everyone should be involved and carried along because everyone has something to add or contribute to the National development.” – Dr. Segun Ademiluyi, National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM), Kwara State
In line with our goal to improve understanding of disability and promote disability inclusion, Propcom Mai-karfi recently organized two workshops on disability inclusiveness: one for key stakeholders and the other targeted at our staff. The stakeholders workshop brought together participants from over twenty public and private sector organisations. Both workshops were platforms to sensitize participants on disability, share findings from research and experiences, and consolidate efforts to promoting disability inclusion. At the end of the workshops, participants developed strategies to improve the inclusion of people with disabilities in their organizations and projects.