By Sefakor Komabu Pomeyie, Advancing Leaders Fellow 2013, SIT Graduate Institute 2013
The invisible child in our schools around the globe today has at least one type of disability which makes him or her practically neglected in the educational system. People with disabilities cry out to be educated, but they often must stop schooling because the school buildings are inaccessible. They become illiterate adults kept from employment opportunities.
As part of the effort to break this chain of societal rejection and exclusiveness, my organization – EEPD AFRICA – is taking the lead on advocating for school accessibility through the use of Universal Design.
What exactly do we mean when we say “Universal Design”? This term refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products, and environments that are inherently accessible to people without disabilities as well as people with disabilities. A great example of an accessible school environment is Gallaudet University’s (Washington, DC) newest residence hall with the focus on DeafSpace.
While some schools like Gallaudet are addressing accessibility issues, I do not believe Africa, and especially Ghana, will achieve the millennium development goal of primary education for all children by 2015. This is because the majority still does not understand the benefits of sending a child with a disability to school. Our new schools are still being built without access for people with disabilities despite the law passed in 2006 promising universal education in Ghana.
You can also be part of this campaign to give people with disabilities the opportunity to get an education if only to understand our pain. Look for more on this next month.
Join the Advancing Leaders Fellows in making a difference by donating to the Fellowship program. Your support changes the lives of our alumni and the communities they serve. And be sure to follow Sefakor on Twitter and on this blog as she develops her project in the coming months.
If you are a World Learning alum with your own social innovation idea, you can apply today to become an Advancing Leaders Fellow.