My Perspective on “Still Struggling for Access-Implementation of Universal Accessibility in Public Places Still a Far Cry” by Sajata Awale, Perspectives, Page 1 Sunday November 3 and “Let’s Not Treat Anyone Different-People Speak”, Page 8

Full Text Sharing

I’d like to applaud the Himalyan Times for covering disability issues in its November 3 edition.  It is vital that the general public is made aware of issues such as universal accessibility and what the government. private sector and all of us can do to further incorporate People Living with Disability into society.  This is vital given that between 6-10% of any country’s population are Persons Living with Disability, a large human resource too large to “waste”.

Given the fact that new buildings and roads are being built in Kathmandu, this provides an incredible opportunity to develop further accessibility for Persons living with Disability and the elderly, and to be a model as to what is possible, even in so-called “developing countries”.  This really doesn’t take much, but the power of those in political office and the will of civil society.  Accessibility isn’t about “extra cost”, but is about how deeply we feel and care about those living with a disability in creating an inclusive society.

This isn’t about “us” and “them”, as many refer to those living with disability, but is about all of us.  It’s not about people being “handicapped” or living a “normal” life because as we know we are all “handicapped” and nobody is really “normal”.  This is about an acceptance of diversity,  of knowing that none of us can make it without collaborating.

The government can help by being sensitive to and  fully implementing the UNCRPD, of which  Nepal is a signatory.  This would mean that Persons with Disabilities would enjoy full rights and be provided with full opportunities to participate in society.  This would also equate to providing accessible sidewalks in all new road contracts and as part of public buildings.  The private sector can also be much more in tune with accessibility issues by providing reasonable accommodation and accessibility measures in all workplaces. 

Disability in no way is a “curse”, something put upon those who have done evil in past lives.  Disability is primarily about genetics, maybe the “luck of the draw”, but occurs a lot, not only in the human race but throughout the planet.  While working at the National Trust, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, I co-coordinated, along with my Indian colleagues a disability awareness raising campaign called, “Badhte Kadam” (BK) .  This November marks the 5th anniversary of BK, which has become an important part of the work that the National Trust does to dispel “disability myths”.  One thought would be to conduct a similar campaign throughout Nepal in order to enable further awareness about Persons living with Disability.

Living with diversity, no matter what this might be, i.e. disability, religious, ethnicity, etc. requires a tremendous amount of tolerance and compassion, a willingness to listen and understand others.  However, living with diversity isn’t often practiced, as observed through daily news broadcasts.  Dialogue and appreciation of others, letting go of past differences is key  if we are to create a world in which we are all accepted for who we are.

Position: Lover of Life-Change Agent

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.