PWDs demand access to public buildings

BY: Salomey Appiah
Some members of the Ghana Federation of Disability with placards during a march to mark the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. Picture: EDNA ADU-SERWAA
Some members of the Ghana Federation of Disability with placards during a march to mark the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. Picture: EDNA ADU-SERWAA

More than 100 persons with disability (PWDs) on Monday marched through some principal streets of Accra to demand the inclusion of accessibility features in all public facilities and infrastructure in the country.

In their crutches, wheelchairs, with their white canes, among other aids, the PWDs marched from the Accra Rehabilitation Centre to the Ministries to draw attention to their plight.

They displayed placards, some of which read: “We want accessibility now”, “10-year moratorium is over” and “The talking is too much: time for action is now”.

Event

The peaceful march was organised by the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD) and it formed part of activities marking International Day of Persons with Disability.

December 3, every year is commemorated all over the world as International Day of PWDs.

This year’s commemoration was on the theme: “Empowering persons with disability and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.

The event is aimed at promoting the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of life and to increase awareness of the situation of PWDs in their political, social, economic and cultural lives.
 
Petition

The marchers later presented a petition to the ministries of Roads and Highways, Works and Housing and Gender, Children and Social Protection which have oversight responsibility over infrastructure, construction projects and activities of PWDs.

The lawyer for the GFD, Ms Esther A. Gyamfi, who made the presentation, said “we have been marginalised and neglected for far too long”.

“We are recommending that the above ministries promote access to public facilities and spaces by ensuring that plans and designs for the construction of buildings and other infrastructure adhere to the accessibility standard,” she said.

Ms Gyamfi further urged the Gender Ministry to sanction institutions that failed to comply with accessibility provisions in the law.

For his part, the President of the GFD, Mr Yaw Ofori-Debrah, in an interview, said the government needed to implement and enforce the law, in line with United Nations conventions on disability.

He said access to information for persons with hearing impairment was another problem which needed to be addressed.

He, therefore, urged the Ministry of Information to ensure that television stations had interpreters to interpret news to those with hearing impairment.

At the Ministry of Roads and Highways, the Chief Director, Mr Edmund Offei-Annor, said his outfit was now incorporating accessibility features in its new infrastructure designs and planning.

He pledged the ministry’s commitment to ensure that PWDs were not left out in road development projects.

Act

Section Six of the Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) stipulates: “The owner or occupier of a place to which the public has access shall provide appropriate facilities that make the place accessible to and available for use by a person with disability.”

Section Seven of Act 715 also states: “A person who provides service to the public shall put in place the necessary facilities that make the service available and accessible to a person with disability.”

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