National Disability Rights Summit

The second day of the National Disability Rights Summit on Friday saw delegates attending parallel sessions covering various topics critical to the white paper on rights of persons with disabilities being implemented.

Delegates attended commissions and discussions focusing on numerous issues affecting the quality of life of people with disabilities, and how to overcome these problems.

The sessions focused on issues, such as compounded marginalisation affecting women, children, older people and people with disabilities living in poverty, and access to information and services in rural communities.

“The main challenge in the country is unemployment,” said participant Manthipi Molamnu during the conversation about community-based services. The role of non-governmental organisations advocating disability rights was “to ensure the communities are integrated”, she said.

Sarah Rule of Create said: “It is important to combat marginalisation of persons with disabilities in rural communities.”

Issues raised during the sessions included the importance of access to quality healthcare services, strengthening disability equity, building inclusive cities, ensuring proper understanding of the role of community-based rehabilitation services, and early childhood intervention measures.

Molamnu said it was important to ensure that service-orientated organisations “are doing the work they should be doing”. Delegate Vanesssa Japtha said children with disabilities “should not be discriminated against”.

Delegates and experts conceded that building a database of knowledge around disability issues was critical. This reservoir of knowledge should include all stakeholders, including parents and caregivers.

During the robust discussion on inclusive cities, many points were made, such as the need for braille information for the blind and ensuring buildings were accessible.

World Bank global disability advisor Charlotte McClain emphasised that “basic access points like toilets need to be inclusive – it shouldn’t remain a dream, we must do something”. Steps should be taken to ensure that the white paper became a living document.

Amanda Gibberd of the transport department called on people with disabilities to “speak up and say something when a building is not accessible”. She pointed to the importance of fluid communication between all spheres of government in ensuring that cities were more accessible for people with disabilities.

Philip Thompson of IDC Consultants said the safety of citizens, including people with disabilities, was an important issue to factor in when planning and building inclusive cities.

Source – iol


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