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December 3, 2002

Easing the Pain for the Disabled

From:, Africa - 03 Dec 2002

Public Agenda (Accra)

EDITORIAL November 28, 2002
Posted to the web December 3, 2002


One very disturbing fact about development agenda in this country is that the physically challenged, otherwise called the disabled, appears to be completely marginalized. There is hardly any public place in Ghana with facilities for the physically challenged. In the cities, towns and villages, places of convenience, sporting arenas and even Parliament House have no place for people, who through no fault of theirs, are unable to stand on their two feet. The situation is even worse in our schools and colleges.

The result of planning without catering for the physically challenged means that quite a large number of them are unable to support any decent living and are consigned to become beggars. It is certainly not the best means of catering for people, who are handicapped right from birth. It is against this background that a forum to sensitize the media on the plight of the disabled heard an emotional threat by the disabled to boycott the 2004 elections unless government takes steps to improve their standard of living.

"If we (the disabled) people's plight is not addressed by the authorities early enough, we will contemplate boycotting the 2004 elections," said a teacher at the Savelugu School for the Deaf. Apparently, authorities at the Northern Regional Co-Ordinating Council did not even acknowledge an invitation for a representation at the forum.

As succinctly put by Thomas Issah, Country Director on Disability and Development, a Non-Governmental Organization, which co-ordinated the meeting, disability is a human rights issue and should be properly addressed in the country. Weekend Agenda shares the country director's sentiments. We do not believe this society could afford to ignore the large number of people born physically handicapped, with hearing impaired or mentally challenged.

Taking a cue from state neglect, family members abandon the disabled to their fate. The result is the large number of the disabled on the streets begging for alms, a situation that distorts the view of society's care for the extended family.

We urge an urgent review of the law on disabled rights to compel the state to provide for the disabled at public places. It is an irony of our effort at building an equitable society where every Ghanaian would be treated fairly that the House of Legislature has no place for wheel chair users entrance. The entrance to the Executive arm of Government, Castle and the various ministries, were constructed without a thought for the wheel chair user. The judiciary is also the same. In effect, the disabled has nowhere to turn to for solace. This cannot be right. We are therefore urging the controllers of the apparatus of state to lead the way in easing the disabled into mainstream society.

In Great Britain, for instance, a percentage of jobs available are reserved for the under-privileged including the disabled. Weekend Agenda believes we could learn from them and create the atmosphere for the physically challenged to be part of society. We do not believe it is too much to ask!

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