Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) have accused the governors of the South-East region of not being serious with the implementation of the Disability Rights Law (DRL) in their various states.
The issue was brought to the fore on Thursday during the Ikengaonline Monthly Town-Hall Meeting tagged: Stigma, Struggle and Support: Living with Disabilities in South-East.”
Speakers at the event highlighted that despite the existence of the Disability Rights Law in majority of the states in South-East, the law has been poorly implemented because of the poor attention given to it by government authorities and those at the corridors of power.
One of the guest speakers at the event, Chidimma Ajemba, decried that despite the presence of the disability law, PWDs in South-East still face challenges that hinder their full participation and chances of succeeding in the society.
Chidimma, who is the spokesperson of Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) Anambra State Chapter, regretted that many public facilities including buildings, transportation system and recreational facilities are still not designed to accommodate the PWDs.
She said “Many schools in the region are still not equipped to support inclusive education for diverse students with disabilities.” She noted that the existential lack has deprived many children with disabilities the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills for personal growth and development.
She added that many PWDs struggle to secure meaningful employment leading to financial depedence and other barriers to economic empowerment.
Speaking further, Chidimma called on government agencies to implement policies and legislations that promote rights of PWDs and inclusion in all aspects of the society. She harped on the need to train teachers on sign language for inclusive education. She also emphasised the need for recruitment of sign interpreters at health centres for unhindered access to healthcare facilities for PWDs.
Similarly, Executive Director Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), David Anyaele, bemoaned that more than 99 percent of the PWDs in South-East and Nigeria by extension are living in poverty.
He said: “When you look at the cost of maintaining the individual, the rehabilitation and the medical costs, you discover that nothing remains for feeding and self development to participate in the society.
“No value is placed on persons with disabilities. Our people do not appreciate us. We are seen as people who cannot contribute anything to the society. The dirty words used against PWDs ends up triggering exclusion and sometimes perpetuating untimely death among PWDs.”
According to him, “accessibility determines PWDs contribution to economic and social activities within the society. If you cannot access, you can’t participate and contribute. Without changing the psyche, it will still be difficult to implement disability law in our states.