DISABILITY INCLUSION

PWDs entitled to all human rights

If a service or programme is inaccessible to PWDs, then obviously they are excluded

In Summary
  • ‘Nothing about us, without us’ is premised on the notion that the government should provide services with PWDs rather than for them.
  • Participation needs to involve all impairment groups to ensure inclusion of most marginalised groups of PWDs, such as persons with psychosocial disabilities.
PWDs entitled to all human rights
PWDs entitled to all human rights
Image: OZONE

A study commissioned by the Ulemavu Research Institute revealed that despite the National Treasury allocating additional funds to the existing cash transfer programme, 52 percent of PWDs were unable to meet their basic needs. Only 6.63 percent of the PWDs reported to have benefited from programme.

In many countries, governments roll out interventions to promote and protect the dignity and rights of citizens such the right to life, health, education, adequate standards of living and social protection.

By using a disability database to establish the number of PWDs in a country, leaders can equitably allocate resources to communities and develop interventions to suit their needs. The World Health Organization estimates that 15 percent of the global population comprises PWDs, of which 80 percent reside in developing countries.

The 2019 national census report indicates PWDs make up 2.2 percent of the population. That is 900,000, a sharp drop in disability prevalence from 3.5 percent reported in the 2009 census. Failure to collect quality and accurate disability statistics can exclude thousands of PWDs from government plans.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which forms part of Kenyan law by dint of Article 2(6) of the Constitution, affirms the dignity and rights of PWDs. It does not create new rights but Article 1 clearly states that PWDs have equal access and right to full and effective enjoyment of all human rights.

Local legislation must be consistent with the CRPD, to give impetus to the development of disability inclusive interventions, for all sectors. Some practical strategies government can employ to achieve disability inclusive interventions include raising awareness to reduce stigma and discrimination against PWDs, which hinders them from participating in society on an equal basis. Disability laws and policies are void if individuals discriminate against PWDs.

Take, for example, a wheelchair user who is unable to wash his hands during the Covid-19 pandemic, simply because a public washing area or sink was erected at a height that is beyond his reach. Another assumption is that provision of ramps is all that is needed for disability inclusion, when in fact it just enables access for people with physical impairment.

PWDS should be actively and meaningfully engaged in all matters of nation-building, policymaking, designing, testing, implementing and evaluating of programmes. The mantra ‘Nothing about us, without us’ is premised on the notion that the government should provide services with PWDs rather than for them. Participation needs to involve all impairment groups to ensure inclusion of most marginalised groups of PWDs, such as persons with psychosocial disabilities.

Best practices for disability inclusive interventions call for a human rights-based approach that ensures eradication of barriers. Programmes are informed by international, regional and national human rights instruments. All persons have a right to full potential even when resources are scarce. This is contrary to the needs-based approach where some people are excluded because of scarce resources.

Ensuring comprehensive accessibility of interventions means physical, communication, policy and attitudinal barriers are identified and addressed. If a service or programme is inaccessible to PWDs, then obviously they are excluded. Take, for example, a wheelchair user who is unable to wash his hands during the Covid-19 pandemic, simply because a public washing area or sink was erected at a height that is beyond his reach.

It is important to remember that access by, and inclusion of PWDs, are not the same thing. Each requires a different strategy. Another assumption is that provision of ramps is all that is needed for disability inclusion, when in fact it just enables access for people with physical impairment.

Policymakers should apply participatory research methodologies. This will ensure researchers and PWDs work together towards generating evidence to aid in designing programmes that are disability friendly and specific to the needs of PWDs. The one-size-fits-all policy is not viable, because every disability is different and even those with similar disabilities have different needs, which must be supported.

Measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions should be followed by publishing the information to help others implement effective interventions. Importantly, duty-bearers implementing these interventions should be held to account.

The government must have PWDs in mind during planning and programming, so they can enjoy these efforts.