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01.11.2003 General News

The marginalisation of the disabled bemoaned

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Kumasi, Nov 1, GNA - Mr Nicholas Halm, Secretary-General of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled, has bemoaned the marginalisation and the denial of access to education health and employment to the 1.8 million persons with disabilities in the country.

He said it was for this reason that many persons with disabilities flock the streets to beg for alms for a living.

Speaking at a day's seminar on "Positive portrayals of persons with disabilities" for media personnel in Kumasi on Friday, Mr Halm pointed out that changing attitudes was difficult, but said if disability issues were portrayed in a more positive light in the newspapers or on radio and television, it would go a long way to change people's perception about the disabled.

The seminar was organised by the Federation and sponsored by Action for Disabilities and Development (ADD), a British Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) with its Ghanaian counterpart based in the Northern Region.

"We believe that if disability is given more coverage in a non-emotional, factual manner, people will begin to question the prejudices and stereotypes that exist in the Ghanaian society today about the disabled."

Mr Halm said if the Bill on Disabled Persons was passed, it would compel organisations to employ skilled disabled persons to minimise their taking to streets to beg for alms.

Mrs Patience Dapaah, Assistant Programmes Manager in-charge of Advocacy and Communication, Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP), urged the participants to be sensitive to the special needs and abilities of the disabled.

She advised parents to accept their handicapped children and train them to fit into the society with their special abilities, saying that they could limit the number of disabled who beg on the street. "They are exploited for the benefit of their own relatives. This is not acceptable and these and many other forms of exploiting the disabled need to be brought to the fore," she stressed.

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