Put yourself in disabled’s shoes

wheelchair-1595802_960_720ON MONDAY, South Africa will enter the fourth week of National Disability Rights Awareness Month. Did you know this? You could be forgiven for not being aware as there seems to have been very little publicity prior to the months and few or no events – particularly on local level – held to highlight the plight of many disabled people.
The Rep recently reported on how disabled people in the Enoch Mgijima area said they felt they were being sidelined in terms of employment and inclusion in programmes hosted by both government and other bodies.
In 2014, Stats SA indicated that about 2.9 million people in the country are disabled, indicating a 7.5% national disability prevalence. Contained in a related report was that households headed by persons with disabilities had less access to basic services compared with households headed by persons without disabilities.
Persons with disabilities were also found to face more challenges than the able-bodied when it came to employment and education.
The challenges faced by the disabled are manifold and often not understood or experienced by able-bodied persons. A quick drive through one of Komani’s shopping centre parking lots will reveal many people, unhindered by physical disability, parking their vehicles in bays which are clearly reserved for the disabled.
Other problems include a lack of access to buildings, lack of assistance for the visually impaired or those struggling with their hearing – the list goes on. The launch of a mini library for the blind in Komani recently is one highlight in what is a difficult life to traverse for those facing physical challenges.
Most people living with one or more disabilities do not want pity. They just want to be enabled to live their lives as best they can. For that, they do need opportunity and thought in terms of provision and planning, however, and that is precisely the task of these few weeks in November: To highlight their needs in terms of planning for better provision in the future.
The month ends with National Disability Awareness Day on December 3. Maybe we could all do our bit on that day to make the life of someone else a little easier.

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