Bridging The Gap To Inclusion Of Persons With Disabilities

Bridging The Gap To Inclusion Of Persons With Disabilities

People with disabilities in our society are often perceived and treated as poor, weak, destitute and dependent persons who rely on the ‘pity’ and handouts from the ‘able’ members of the society.  However, like every other human being, they have great potentials to attain   if given the right opportunities – and “inclusion” is the word.  Persons with disabilities suffer exclusion in different aspects of life, including exclusion from their own names, as some are addressed by their deformity or handicapping condition, such as “Kuruma” for a person with hearing impairment, “Gurugu” for a person who is physically challenged, “Makaho” for a person who is visually impaired.  As long as individuals, families and the society exclude those people with disabilities, they can never reach their full potentials.

According to World Bank statistics, 15% of the world’s population experience some form of disabilities and a good sum of that percentage is from developing countries.  The global report on disability published by the World Health Organization in 2011   put the number of people with disabilities in Nigeria at 25million. This population must not be ignored. 

Persons with disabilities most often experience adverse socio-economic outcomes such as less education, worse health conditions, less employment and higher poverty rates. Even in their homes, often times they are less considered and misunderstood.

Inclusion means that all people regardless of their abilities, disabilities or health care needs have the right to be respected and appreciated as valuable members of the community and allowed to participate fully in public life according to their capacities, thus contributing to the growth of the society. Inclusion applies to every aspects of life.

Persons with disabilities need support to participate and contribute meaningfully to their society. This support ranges from making places (homes, schools, churches, mosques, market places and other public places) accessible to persons with disabilities, having a transport system that is disability friendly, giving equal opportunities to persons with disability and avoid discriminating against them.   Thanks to President Mohammadu Buhari, who signed the  discrimination against persons with disabilities  bill  into law in January this year.  This law prohibits discrimination  on the basis of disability and imposes sanctions on those who contravene it. It also stipulates a five-year transitional period for modifying public buildings, structures and automobiles to make them accessible and usable for people with disabilities.

 The implementation of this law lies within the competence not only of the government but also on individuals, families, schools, churches as well as other corporate bodies.

A person with disability has the right to access his physical environment on an equal basis with others. Therefore, considerations should be made for their accessibility into any public building.  There should be a culture of constructing ramps in our buildings so that it will be convenient for a person on wheel chair to access it. We must also change our vocabulary and perceptions such that the person with disability is not just seen in the light of his deformity but is considered as a human person created in the image and likeness of God.

Daughters of Charity


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