The plight of persons living with disability in Ghana
Twelve years down memory lane, persons with disability in Ghana are yet to see the full implementation of the Disability Act 2006, Act 715.
It is sad to observe that the glamour and high hopes that surrounded Parliament’s enactment of Act 715 has begun to go down.
The Act, which covers key thematic provisions such as rights, accessibility, employment, transport, health and education for persons with disability, is yet to gain concrete realisation in the country.
The unbearable challenges for which the provisions were made still persist in society.
Persons with physical disability still have to be carried to access storey buildings without an elevator or a rump, persons with visual impairment can only attend seven out of over 475 Senior High Schools (SHS) in Ghana, and derogatory words are still being used to describe persons living with disability.
To start with, section 6 of Act 715 provides that an owner or an occupier of a building shall ensure that the place is accessible by persons with disability.
The question now is, how many public buildings have complied with this provision of the law? Several buildings in the country have only one alternative – the staircase. There is no provision for an elevator or a rump for persons with physical impairment.
And sometimes in places where an elevator is provided, it may not be operational.
In a situation where a student who is physically impaired has a lecture at the last floor of a building and the only alternative is the staircase, that individual has to be carried in order for him to attend that lecture.
Section 17 mandates that the Minister for Education shall by Legislative Instrument designate schools or institutions in each region which shall provide the necessary facilities and equipment that will enable persons with disability to fully benefit from the school or institution.
Twelve years counting
Twelve years and still counting, there are not enough schools that are integrated for persons with disability, especially visually impaired students. At least, each region in Ghana should have integrated schools.
As it stands now, there are only seven integrated senior high schools: two in the three northern regions, one in the Brong Ahafo Region, one in the Central Region, two in the Volta Region and one in the Eastern Region.
Section 37 states that a person shall not call a person with disability derogatory names because of the disability of the person.
Names or descriptions such as, ‘yarefor’, ‘woadi dem’, ‘apakye’, ‘a sick person’ or ‘a disabled person’ are unfortunately used to describe persons who are visually impaired or physically challenged.
The truth, however, is that physical disability does not make one a sick person. Unfortunately, persons with disability have over the years suffered from such abuse even though the law clearly prohibits such use of language.
There are many persons with disability in Ghana who have achieved great feats and done tremendously well in various sectors of the economy.
It is, therefore, time to break the silence for all and sundry to join in the fight for justice for persons living with disability.
Everybody has a role to play!
The writer is a law student and the president of the Association of Students with Disabilities
University of Cape Coast