Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities on resourcing and improving access to education

Week 1 of Disability Rights Awareness Month focuses on resourcing and improving access to education
Disability Rights Awareness Month (DRAM) 2022. Was launchd on 3 November 2022. The theme for this year’s DRAM is: “Empowering Persons with Disabilities through resourceful, sustainable and safe environments”.

The 2022 International theme is “Not all disabilities are visible”. This year’s theme emphasizes the importance of resolving existing barriers towards disability inclusion by ensuring resourceful, sustainable and safe environments for and with persons with disabilities and also specially recognizing that not all disabilities are visible.

The month-long campaign is broken down into 4 weekly themes to highlight priorities elevated by the disability sector.
Week 1 DRAM sub-theme talks to “Resourcing the advancement of accessible communication, information and technology methodologies for persons with disabilities”.

Imagine a South Africa where everyone can move freely and access information swiftly and effortlessly, especially persons with disabilities, and where assistive devices are easily available at a reasonable cost. An environment where organisations fully understand how to align their Corporate Social Investments to the National Development Plan (NDP) with regards to empowering persons with disabilities.

The creation of barrier-free environments requires collective and concurrent action by law and policy makers, service providers, regulatory bodies, the private sector as well as organisations of and for persons with disabilities.

Article 9 of the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) emphasises that State Parties have legal obligations to ensure accessibility to persons with disabilities. In this vein, the development and implementation of national laws and policies that advance accessibility must be promoted. Accessibility can also be achieved by ensuring that services and information are tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities; by requiring the participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities; and by drawing attention to the most neglected groups within the spectrum of disability.

Six dimensions have to be addressed in order to remove barriers to access and participation:

Changing attitudes and behaviour;
Access to the built environment;
Access to transport;
Access to information and communication;
Universal design and access; and
Reasonable accommodation measures.
Addressing all the focus areas in their own right and as a holistic solution requires collective and concurrent action by law and policy makers, service providers, regulatory bodies, the private sector as well as rights holders and/or their representative organisations.

Assistive technology is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices and services for persons with disabilities, which enable persons with disabilities and learning differences to attain independence. They include for example, loop systems, sub texting and alternative input for cognitive assistance and computer or electrical assistive devices.

When information and communication platforms and technology are available, affordable and accessible, they significantly improve the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society.

Within the context of #DRAM2022 regarding assistive technology, government’s intention is to emphasise the commitment to uphold and promote the rights of persons with disabilities by ensuring that all government departments, prioritise their responsibility towards the disability rights agenda.

“The new South Africa should be accessible and open to everyone. We must see that we remove the obstacles… Only then will the rights of disabled persons to equal opportunities become a reality”. – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, 1995

To this end, provision of assistive technology will significantly improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities in South Africa.

Source: Government of South Africa

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