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Caritas explores disability inclusion

Man sawing wood in a workshop, the man is in a wheelchair
Community Based Rehabilitation program at the Inkuru Nziza Church in Kigali creates employment opportunities for people with disabilities

In the June 2013 Edition of the Caritas Africa e-Magazine, Caritas published an article discussing issues of disability in development. The article stressed the need to address the physical and social barriers faced by people with disabilities and promote equal access to health, education, livelihood and other opportunities.

Facing up to disability

In the June 2013 edition of the Caritas Africa e-Magazine, Caritas published an article entitled 'Facing up to disability' discussing issues of disability in development. This article described the scale of disability as an issue in development, it outlined the barriers faced by people with disability and called for improvements to access to health, education, livelihood and other opportunities for people with disabilities.

By publishing this article, Caritas is taking an interest in issues of disability in development, examining possible ways to promote disability inclusion and confront the barriers faced by people with disabilities in their every day lives.

Barriers to disability

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 15% of the world's population have a disability. That is one billion people who are often among the world's poorest people. Poverty is both the cause and the consequence of their disability. Their disability often compounds their misfortunes.

The article discusses the importance of distinguishing between impairment, the reduction of a person's individual capacity to perform certain tasks and disability which is understood as the relationship between a person with impairment and their society.

Disability defined in this way, is the result of the barriers an impaired person faces in society. These can be physical barriers such as reduced access to education, health and lifestyle services, as well as social barriers such as the negative attitudes confronting people with disabilities - perceptions that disabilities are the result of curses, karma or past sins and other prejudices regarding the capacities of people with disabilities to be constructive members of society.

Removing barriers and negative perceptions

The article thereby calls on the identification and removal of these barriers. It calls on the improvement of access to buildings, schools, churches, water, food and medical services for people with disabilities.  

In addition to addressing these physical barriers, the article emphasises the need to challenge negative perceptions of disability – disabilities are not something people deserve, they are not the result of Karma, the consequence of past sins or curses. People with disabilities have the same rights as anyone else. Furthermore, they have their own capacities to participate and be involved in society. Caritas therefore argues that these negative attitudes must be challenged wherever they are observed and that people with disabilities are entitled to respect and dignity, so that they may enjoy their lives just as anyone else would.

Related article

Inclusive Development

How CBM works for an inclusive world in which all persons with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential



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