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23.12.2019 Feature Article

Disability Not Inability

Disability Not Inability
LISTEN DEC 23, 2019

'Disability is not inability;' although that is dictated by a society. Whether a person with some kind of disability gets so recognized as a complete individual with other human functional capacities, is determined by society. It is all by a society's will. By society, I mean every individual abled or not. I say that because every creation is abled in a way. It's a matter of identifying the ability to nurture and mature for functionality.

There is no justification why society should allow itself to be swindled by people who occupy positions in government, to make millions while the same society nonchalantly sits by for schools for children with disability to close for lack of the funds others have stolen to enrich themselves.

As late as 1998, four years after arriving from Canada, where taking care of persons with disability in the public space, using public resources, was far advanced, I was disappointed with the public attitude towards the disabled. Just imagine the horror in my face when in tearful misty eyes, I witnessed in shock and dismay, a student crawling up some steps in trying to reach one of the many lecture halls in a building constructed in that year. I kept wondering how often he needed to go through that experience every week or probably more than once a week if he had that many lectures within that building.

Sadly, sadly, sadly, the practice was as much a routine ordeal for students as it was for at least one professor. To think it was a World Bank project was bewildering. It may not be for its disability unfriendliness but students chose to name it after a Rwandan refugee camp, Tenge Tenge, when the building was originally commissioned for use in all its disability unfriendliness. Students, led by the Vandal City residents, sometimes in competition with their Okponglo counterparts, have taken to naming some buildings on campus weirdly. There is the 'Diaspora' area, made up of the five big halls of residence (Hilla Limann, Alexander Kwapong, Elizabeth Sey and Jean Ackah). Then is the earlier constructed SSNIT Africa Union Hall they've named 'Pentagon', 'Pent' for short.

Pressure on the individual who is disabled through negative discrimination, discourages him or her from accepting to work and discover inborn talents and abilities that require something to be done such as education and training. It takes society's encouragement to unveil and release capability in order to do something positive about that person's condition. It's much about how society treats them. That is why I am in full agreement with the Adaklu MP, to make the law which sets our responsibilities towards persons with disabilities, work.

Whichever way one is born, able or disabled, it is society which shapes the individual to be relevant for its purpose. Society must ensure its abled support the disabled if it is to benefit from the latter contributing to its success. Society can never be successful unless its disabled are enabled. It disables and disenables itself in making efforts that would transform the poverty of its people into the wealth of a nation.

A society that does not enable its disabled ends up disenabling itself. It becomes a compassionless society, with the inability of protecting its common wealth resources from being raided by marauding individual thieves. They steal when entrusted with those resources for safe keeping and to be equitably distributed to the benefit of all, including the most vulnerable such as compatriots with disabilities.

Elsewhere, mobility and its associated freedom of movement are guaranteed by the provision of free transportation in specialized buses which a person with disability accesses by just placing a phone call. On campuses, they transport students with disabilities wherever they need to go. When it comes to learning and instruction, aids abound. It is worthy to see the implementation of LEAP/MASLOC job creation cum income generation programmes. It is most gratifying seeing persons with disability farming profitably.

Schools for children with disability never seemed to be in want of funds during the Nkrumah days. Proceeds from the Kwame Nkrumah Trust Fund and National Lottery's earnings, went into supporting those schemes. Today, as part of capacity building from the oil money, a percentage, 0.01%, of the oil revenue should be dedicated to ensuring the disabled are enabled in whatever ways possible as part of an aggressive social integration by ensuring the person with disability realizes his or her full potential.

Never again shall this motherland have the schools for her children with disability closed down. Ever shall the motherland deploy whatever resources it takes to enable her children with disability live full lives in fulfillment of whatever dreams and aspirations they have. Anything short would be shortchanging compatriots with disabilities in sharing the national cake.

By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh

Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh
Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh, © 2019

The author has 136 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KwasiAnsu-Kyeremeh

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