More should be done for people living with disabilities, says Nkoana-Mashabane

Much more should be done for people living with disabilities, the Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said as she launched the Disability Rights Awareness Month and its calendar events.

Marizka Coetzer – The Citizen/Image: Nigel Sibanda

“The progress on priorities over the past year displays a great deal of leadership in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities. However, much more can be done by us all,” she said.

This year’s theme is: “Empowering Persons with disabilities through resourceful, sustainable and safe environments.”

The department focused on various points, including the acceleration of the pace of providing access to quality inclusive education for children with disabilities out of school.

“This entails improving and strengthening reasonable accommodation support measures for pupils in both special and ordinary schools,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

“We must advocate mainstream persons with disabilities in ordinary schools ensuring all learning materials are accessible, regardless of the pupil’s location.”

She said she wanted to accelerate the pace of meaningful and sustainable economic liberation of persons with disabilities.

“This includes reversing the trend of learnerships replacing decent work opportunities, promoting SMME development and public sector procurement.”

Nkoana-Mashabane said they were pushing for the South African sign language to be recognised as an official language.

She said the department was in the process of developing overarching legislation on disability rights.

“South Africa will soon ratify the protocol on the African Human and People’s Rights Charter for Persons with Disabilities in Africa. We are investigating the possibility of legislating these frameworks into the Disability Rights Act,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

She called on all government departments to be involved in the process of developing the National Disability Rights Agenda as required by the Mid-Term Strategic Framework targets.

“We need more government departments to participate in the activities and events during Disability Rights Awareness Month as part of their commitment to the integration of persons with disabilities,” she said.

his week, Gauteng health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko met Gauteng Emergency Medical Services employee Abraham Dludlu, 43.

He was given a mechanical wheelchair and workstation following an accident that left him paralysed 15 years ago.

Deon Torris from Eersterust was wheelchair-bound for most of his life and said transport and access to basic places were challenging with his wheelchair.

He said public transport was not wheelchair-friendly.

“A lot of places, especially in the townships, are inaccessible for us if you think about the spaza shops and the sidewalks,” he said.

Torris said most government buildings, shops and banks were not disability-friendly. “The ATMs are too high and hard to work in the chair.”

He said township problems made having a disability harder. “To get access to walking devices and wheelchairs is hard for the less fortunate. Not everyone has that kind of money.”

Torris said servicing the wheelchair every year was an additional cost as the tyres and the bearings had to be changed.

“The government has to cover the service of wheelchairs, but they don’t. When you get to the shop, they say you have to have medical aid before they will service it,” he said.



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