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Inclusivity of Persons With Disability: A worthy cause all must pursue

Persons with disabilities make up a wholesome fraction of God’s creation; eliminate them; creation is incomplete.

The Bible clearly states that everything God created was good, including these sidelined people (Gen 1:31).

I was privileged to interview key office holders of the Ghana Federation of Disability and the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, as they shared significant insights about disability that were far too hidden. These individuals believe disability can be a condition that affects one’s ability to do something, but not entirely everything.

One may ask, what is disability? Merriam-Webster defines disability as a physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental condition that impairs, interferes with, or limits a person’s ability to engage in certain tasks or actions or participate in typical daily activities and interactions. Dr. Dwomoh, a Psychiatric resident Doctor at the Accra Psychiatric hospital, further adds that people with psychiatric disorders can also have disabilities because of the symptoms associated with them and because they affect their day-to-day activities.

Quite variedly, disability is caused by illness, medicines and injections, accidents, and what have you. And the symptoms: challenges with learning, sensory sensitivities, difficulty hearing sounds, and the likes.

The latest population and housing census by the statistical service reports that there are approximately 30.8 million people in Ghana, of whom 8% have a disability, a 5% point increase compared to previous data. Though people with disabilities don’t make up to half of the population, there is a need to be concerned about the rise in disability over the years. So, it shouldn’t be difficult to ensure inclusivity in all aspects.

It’s rather unfortunate that these people are mostly confronted with discrimination, being relegated to the background and left unattended to in churches, schools, and workplaces.

Individual organizations like the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations distinguish themselves as not only an umbrella organization but an organization that has its members at heart and ensures they are included in everything. I believe the organization notices and recognizes the potential for disability that lots of Ghanaians fail to recognize.

If the populace is educated well enough to accept persons with disabilities as one of them and has great potential, society will indeed be a better place to be. It will never lose its relevance. Major stakeholders in every sector must take it upon themselves to educate their people. In education, GES can have revised syllabuses that cater for students with disabilities, as well as make the environment conducive for teachers with disabilities to thrive.

In the Lord’s vineyard, servants of God must tend God’s flock with care and love, even if it requires having an assembly for them to worship. The Church of Pentecost is doing great so far as embracing people with disabilities; the church now has a ministry set aside for them, which is quite plausible and worth emulating.

On one cool afternoon when the sun was slightly scorching, I met up with a good old friend I hadn’t seen in years to catch up over some desserts at the Accra Mall. I noticed a couple of young children begging for alms on the overhead while my friend and I were taking a stroll to the circle/Accra bus stop. Quickly, it reminded me of some people with physical disabilities begging for alms at the Achimota Neoplan roundabout. How pathetic!

The media has a vital role to play in their media coverage of such persons; they have to be professional and sensitive as they project disability in a positive light.

I could go on and on and on and on to preach about the inclusivity of disability. But in the end, if no change or impact is made, what have we gained? I therefore appeal to major stakeholders, including well-meaning Ghanaians, to join in this worthy cause of eradicating barriers that hinder people with disabilities from reaching their full potential.

I can’t end without making mention of Hon. Joshua Gmayenaam Makubu, Minister of Oti Region in Ghana; indeed, he is a great source of inspiration to persons with disabilities to dream big, cultivate the habit of hard work, and soar higher.

By Edna Garimah 

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