By Sefakor Komabu-Pomeyie, Advancing Leaders Fellow 2013, SIT Graduate Institute 2013
December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and this year, the UN chose the theme—Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all.
UN findings show that over one billion people, or approximately 15 percent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability! Around the world, persons with disabilities face physical, social, and economic barriers that exclude them from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society. They are disproportionately represented among the world’s poorest, and lack equal access to basic resources, such as education, employment, healthcare, and social and legal support systems. Persons with disabilities also have a higher rate of mortality. Still, disability has remained largely invisible in the mainstream development agenda and its processes.
In our own small way, Empowering and Enlightening People with Disabilities—Africa (EEPD AFRICA) is tackling this global challenge at the grass roots level as well as by engaging stakeholders in Ghana through the media. Most recently, EEPD AFRICA exposed the realities on the ground at Manpong—a school for deaf children, who are seriously marginalized and do not have equal access to education.
Why are we using media as part of our Accessible School Environment Advocacy Campaign?
- To increase the general public’s awareness about the value of educating persons with disabilities.
- To increase the amount of accessible primary schools in Ghana by ensuring that existing schools are renovated and new primary schools have a universal design.
- To challenge Ghanaians and all Africans to change their negative attitudes and perceptions about persons with disabilities. In Ghana and in other countries in Africa, many rely on television and radio media to be informed and educated about challenging issues. Like NPR commentator Daniel Schorr says, “If you don’t exist in the media, for all practical purposes, you don’t exist.”
We are confident that our media campaign will make a difference and ensure that children with disabilities in Ghana will have the opportunity to get an education and in turn find better employment opportunities when they graduate. Look at the graph below. Where does your town, country, continent fall? And what will you do to break down those barriers facing persons with disabilities in your own community and society?