Monday, June 17, 2024

Differently-abled advocates push for improved conditions for people with disabilities

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By Alieu Jallow

Charles Degold Gomez, a social activist with disabilities, has called for enhanced conditions for individuals living with disabilities.

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Charles noted that, despite efforts to enhance accessibility and inclusivity in infrastructure, significant gaps persist in the implementation of policies and the provision of infrastructure for individuals with disabilities.

Mr. Gomez pointed out that The Gambia National Disability Policy, which focuses on promoting the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities by emphasizing accessibility in infrastructure and services, has seen slow implementation due to limited resources and capacity gaps.

“The Disability Act of 2021 provides a legal framework for the protection of the rights of people with disabilities, including access to education, healthcare, and employment. However, enforcement mechanisms and monitoring of compliance are lacking, leading to ineffective implementation,” he said.

The disability rights activists recognized the considerable progress in improving accessibility in public buildings, transportation, and urban areas with the addition of ramps. However, he noted that many existing structures still do not have these facilities, which limits the mobility and independence of individuals with disabilities.

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He also pointed out that people with disabilities still encounter numerous obstacles, including limited access to education and employment, caused by physical barriers in educational and professional settings, as well as societal stigma and discrimination.

“Government should implement universal design learning principles in schools to make educational content accessible to all students, regardless of their disabilities and enforce building codes to include accessibility standards for public buildings, such as ramps, elevators, accessible restrooms, and signage. They should also establish and enforce employment quotas for people with disabilities in public and private sectors,” he said.

Charles emphasizes the critical need to integrate disability inclusion into national and local development strategies, particularly in infrastructure initiatives. This requires engaging with individuals with disabilities during the planning and design phases to cater to their unique needs.

He advocates for enhancing the capabilities of government bodies, non-profit organizations, and key players in understanding disabilities, adhering to accessibility norms, and creating inclusive infrastructure, thereby highlighting the importance of executing policies effectively.

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