Sunday, February 21, 2016

Disability Not Inability

In 2013, on December 3rd - the International Day of Persons with Disabilities - Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, stated: "Disability is part of the human condition; almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in life.  There are currently more than a billion people with disabilities around the world – that's around 15% of the population of the planet.

Many of the challenges for persons with disabilities are obvious, such as physical obstacles.  But a major challenge is one that may be unseen and can, at times, seem almost insurmountable: the ignorance and misconception about disability that fuels stigma and discrimination.

Let’s focus on what many of us already know - that fairness to  persons with disabilities is not charity, just good sense.  Let's stress that they have equal rights and are valuable resources that are good for the bottom line.  Above all, let's spread the word – that disability is NOT inability."

Two and a half years later, in this week's Tanzania Daily News, reporter Iddy Mwema reported: "The Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for People with Disabilities, Dr. Abdallah Possi has implored the media to ensure fair coverage on people with disabilities and avoid using discriminatory words against them.

He said people with disabilities have the same right to receive information as any other citizen in the country and therefore he directed television stations to provide sign translators during education programs and important events of national interest like parliamentary proceedings and the president's speeches.

He cited the Persons with Disabilities Act No. 9 of 2010 section 55 (1) which states that 'All television stations shall provide a sign language inset or subtitles in all newscasts, education programs and other programs covering national events.'

According to him, the Minister responsible for people with disabilities shall direct media houses to use sign insets and proper words that will not show any sign of discrimination to the group and requested the media to immediately start implementing the Act.

'Media houses have been champions in various group movements including the gender equality movement and the media should direct the same efforts as well by having a good number of education programs to educate people with disabilities and the society in general,' he said.

He referred to one report that showed a state of discrimination.  This is when people with albinism fought at State House.  'I was there that day and what I saw was people fighting and not albinos fighting as it was reported by most of the media the next day.  Why albinos?  We should change this kind of reporting,' he said emotionally.

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