Why Fight Disablism? A Global Perspective: Blogging against Disablism Day (BADD) 2012

Posted on 1 May 2012. Filed under: Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Inclusion, Opinion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Why fight disablism?

The short answer takes one paragraph:  Because disablism is more than just an attitude.  Because when people hold disablist attitudes toward people with disabilities, people with disabilities are excluded, isolated, left out, left behind, and pushed to the margins of society.  Disabled people are hurt in physical ways that can leave bruises, rope burns, broken bones, and even dead bodies.  And people with disabilities also are hurt in not so physical ways that, sometimes they say are even worse.

The long answer would have to involve listening to one billion people on the face of the Earth describing the one billion ways that disablism impacts their lives.  Because one billion is the number of people with disabilities living in the world today.  And, chances are, all of them would have a slightly different answer to what disablism means.  And it’s not just disabled people and their loved ones who think that various forms of prejudice that people with disabilities is an important issue.  Two major international organizations—the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO)—have this to say about the effects of the social inequities that people with disabilities experience daily:

“Across the world, people with disabilities have poorer health outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is partly because people with disabilities experience barriers in accessing services that many of us have long taken for granted, including health, education, employment, and transport as well as information.”

They cite many inter-related causes for these effects.  And these include negative attitudes that others may sometimes hold toward people with disabilities:

“Beliefs and prejudices constitute barriers to education, employment, health care, and social participation. For example, the attitudes of teachers, school administrators, other children, and even family members affect the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream schools. Misconceptions by employers that people with disabilities are less productive than their non-disabled counterparts, and ignorance about available adjustments to work arrangements limits employment opportunities.”

If you want to read their evidence for yourself, check out the World Report on Disability that the World Bank and WHO released, with a big media splash, in September 2011:   http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report/en/index.html
This publication is available in any of the major United Nations languages, namely, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese

I’m fortunate that my passion for international disability rights coincides with my career path: I’m now at an organization based in Washington, DC, called the U.S. International Council on Disability (USICD). When people ask me what the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) does, there are a few basic answers I could give.  I can say that USICD works to mobilize the U.S. disability community to become more engaged with the international disability rights movement.  It works to promote U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which is the first legally binding international human rights treaty to specifically protect the human rights of people with disabilities.  It promotes disability inclusion in U.S. foreign assistance programs abroad.  And, via the Global Disability Rights Library (GDRL) project, which I manage, we are working to deliver disability rights knowledge to advocates and policy makers in developing countries who have limited Internet connectivity.  No, it’s not an “anti-disablism” organization per se.  But I suspect that its mission would align well with the values of many of the people participating in the 2012 edition of Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD).

I’ll probably spend a good part of May browsing through the many excellent blog posts I anticipate will be presented as part of this year’s Blogging against Disablism Day (BADD) on May 1, 2012.  For the past several years, this event has been hosted by the disability blogger at “Diary of a Goldfish”, which means her blog is the go-to link for finding all the other BADD posts for 2012.  (And for archived BADD posts from past years also.)  Usually a hundred or more bloggers participate, all with something fresh to say about what disablism means to them.  Many are themselves people with disabilities.  Many other bloggers are friends, families, and allies of disabled people.  I hope you will explore the other BADD contributions, also!  In past years, most participating bloggers have been from developed countries.  But I hope that bloggers from developing countries will also consider making contributions to the event, either this year (it’s not too late!) or in future years.  Enjoy the day!

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PAPER; NEWS: World Bank Report on Disabled in India

Posted on 1 December 2007. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Announcements, Cross-Disability, Education, Employment, Health, News, Reports, South Asian Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

New World Bank Report Finds People with Disabilities among the Most Excluded in Indian Society
Disabled adults have far lower employment rates than others – reduced from 43 % in 1991 to 38% in 2002

Contact : in New Delhi
Kiran Negiknegi@worldbank.org

New Delhi, November 20, 2007: A new World Bank report finds people with disabilities among the most excluded in Indian society Low literacy and employment rates and widespread social stigma are leaving disabled people behind. With better education and more access to jobs, India’s 40 to 90 million disabled people will generate higher growth which will benefit the country as a whole.

The report entitled People with Disabilities in India: From Commitments to Outcomes, says that as the country makes economic progress, the incidence of communicable disease-induced disabilities such as polio are likely to fall, whereas age and lifestyle-related disabilities and those due to traffic accidents are expected to rise sharply. For example, internationally, the lowest reported disability rates are in sub-Saharan Africa while the highest are in the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) countries. The report therefore highlights the need for a multi-faceted approach so that disabled people realize their full individual potential and maximize their social and economic contribution to society.

The report finds that people with disabilities are subject to multiple deprivations. Households with disabled members are significantly poorer than average, with lower consumption and fewer assets. Children living with disability are around 4 to 5 times less likely to be in school than Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste children. Disabled adults also have far lower employment rates than the general population – and this fell from 43 % in 1991 to 38% in 2002, even in the midst of economic growth.

Social attitudes and stigma play an important role in limiting the opportunities of disabled people for full participation in social and economic life, often even within their own families. For example, in surveys carried out for the report, around 50 percent of households saw the cause of disability as a “curse of God”. Women with disabilities face numerous additional challenges.

“India has an impressive set of policy commitments to its citizens with disabilities”, said Isabel Guerrero, World Bank Country Director for India. “The challenge facing Indian society now is to translate those commitments into better lives for disabled people. This includes identifying disabilities in young children, getting more disabled children into school and preparing them for the workplace and family life, and most importantly working to reduce the social stigma which disabled people face”.

Despite the many challenges, concerted efforts by the Government, civil society, the private sector, and disabled people themselves, the untapped potential of this large group of citizens can be released for their own benefit as well as for society at large.

“Increasing the status and social and economic participation of people with disabilities would have positive effects on everyone, not just disabled people” said Philip O’Keefe, Lead Social Protection Specialist and main author of the report. “A simple example is increasing accessibility of public transport and buildings for disabled people – a measure which would benefit a wide range of people including the elderly, pregnant women and children. More broadly, people with disabilities who are better educated and more economically active will generate higher growth in which everyone will share,” he added.

India’s implementation capacity is generally weak in a number of areas of service delivery which are most critical to improving the situation of disabled people. It is thus not realistic to expect that all the actions needed by many public and non-public actors can be taken all at once. The report highlights the need for prioritization of the most critical interventions to maximize the benefit for people living with disability:

(i) Preventive care – both for mothers through nutritional interventions, and infants through nutrition and basic immunization coverage
(ii) Identifying people with disabilities as soon as possible after onset – the system needs major improvements in this most basic function
(iii) Major improvements in early intervention, which can cost-effectively transform the lives of disabled people, their families, and the communities they live and work in
(iv) Getting all children with special needs into school and giving them the skills to participate fully in family and economic life
(v) Expanding the under-developed efforts to improve societal attitudes to people with disabilities, relying on public-private partnerships that build on successful models already operating in India.

The study points out that it is neither possible nor desirable for the public sector to “do it all”. Instead, partnerships with NGOs, civil society, and the private sector are critical to achieve effective and lasting results. The key step in such partnerships is brining disabled people themselves into the policymaking process along with public and non-governmental institutions.

Some other findings of the report:

  • There are substantial differences in socio-economic outcomes, social stigma, and access to services by disability type, with those with mental illness and mental retardation in a particularly poor position. There are also major urban/rural differences in outcomes, Gender, class and regional variations are also significant in many cases
  • Estimates vary, there is growing evidence that people with disabilities comprise between 4 and 8 percent of the Indian population (around 40-90 million individuals)
  • Between 1990 and 2020, there is predicted to be a halving of disability due to communicable diseases, a doubling of disability due to injuries/accidents, and a more than 40 percent increase in the share of disability due to non-communicable diseases
  • Disabled people have much lower educational attainment rates, with 52 percent illiteracy against a 35 percent average for the general population.
  • Illiteracy is high among children across all categories, in even the best performing major states, a significant share of out of school children are those with disabilities – Kerala, 27 percent, in Tamil Nadu over 33 percent
  • Private sector employment incentives for hiring disabled people are few and piecemeal. In the late 1990s, employment of People with Disability (PWD) among large private firms was only 0.3 percent of their workforce. Among multinational companies, the situation was far worse, with only 0.05 percent being PWD
  • In early 2006, a National Policy on Persons with Disabilities was approved by Government of India. To date, the only states that have draft disability policies are Chhattisgarh and Karnataka. The Chhattisgarh draft state disability policy can be considered “best practice”, and could provide a model for future national and state-level policy development.

People can follow this link to learn more about the report, or download individual chapters, at:
http://go.worldbank.org/48NBTTBRJ0

Individual chapters include: Socio-Economic Profile of Persons with Disabilities; Attitudes; Health; Education; Employment; Social Protection; Policies and Institutions; and Access

Or follow this link to download the full report in PDF format (1.8Mb).


The text for this blog post is taken from a press release from the World Bank.


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