Our takeaways from Care Women Deserve Seminar 9 – Inclusive Health: Insights on the systemic challenges and strategies that support individuals with disabilities in Ethiopia.
Here are some of the difficulties that people living with disabilities are affected by:
- Physical Barriers: Physical environments and infrastructure may not be accessible, making it difficult for people with disabilities to navigate public spaces, buildings, transportation, and recreational areas.
Solution – make public spaces, buildings, transportation, and infrastructure accessible to people with disabilities. This includes installing ramps, elevators, accessible parking spaces, and ensuring tactile paving for individuals with visual impairments.
- Limited Accessibility: Many digital platforms, websites, and information sources may not be designed or presented in an accessible format, making it challenging for people with disabilities to access information and participate fully in the digital world.
Solution – ensure the availability of social support systems and services that cater to the specific needs of disabled individuals. This includes access to healthcare, rehabilitation services, assistive devices, personal assistance support, as well as tailoring digital platforms to make them more inclusive and accessible.
- Employment Discrimination: People with disabilities often face barriers to employment due to discriminatory practices, lack of reasonable accommodations, and employers’ misconceptions about their capabilities. This can lead to higher unemployment rates and financial challenges.
Solution – create inclusive employment practices that provide equal opportunities for people with disabilities. Encourage diverse hiring practices, reasonable workplace accommodations, and career development opportunities.
- Limited Educational Opportunities: Inclusive education may not always be available, leading to limited access to quality education for students with disabilities. Barriers can include inaccessible physical environments, lack of specialized support, and negative attitudes from educators and peers.
Solution – educational systems have an obligation to create a system that adjusts for people living with disabilities, promoting an environment that creates easier learning techniques and may even offer specialized learning classes to help students catch up to others.
- Healthcare Disparities: People with disabilities may face challenges in accessing appropriate and timely healthcare services. This can be due to physical barriers in healthcare facilities, lack of accessible information, and healthcare providers’ limited knowledge or understanding of disability-related healthcare needs.
Solution – Healthcare systems should be well adjusted and be able to cater to the special needs that people with disabilities may have. This includes arranging different forms of communication, creating a safe environment where they can easily get check-ups or medical aid, and having systems in place that can respond to their concerns.
- Social Isolation: Limited accessibility and social barriers can contribute to social isolation and loneliness for individuals with disabilities. They may face difficulties in participating in social activities, building relationships, and experiencing a sense of belonging within their communities.
Solution – ensure the availability of social support systems and services that cater to the specific needs of disabled individuals. This includes access to healthcare, rehabilitation services, assistive devices, and personal assistance support.
- Limited Transportation Options: Inaccessible transportation systems and lack of accessible vehicles can restrict the mobility and independence of people with disabilities, making it challenging to access education, employment, healthcare, and social opportunities.
Solution – encourage active participation and involvement of disabled individuals in community activities, decision-making processes, and social events. Foster a sense of belonging and inclusion by valuing their contributions.
- Lack of Representation: Media and societal representation of people with disabilities is often limited, leading to a lack of visibility and recognition of their talents, achievements, and contributions. This can perpetuate stereotypes and further marginalize individuals with disabilities.
Solution – promote accurate and positive portrayals of disabled individuals in media, entertainment, and advertising. Increase visibility by featuring disabled individuals in diverse roles and showcasing their achievements.
It is important for society to actively work towards removing these barriers and creating an inclusive environment that respects the rights, dignity, and full participation of people with disabilities.