Mr George Frimpong, the Central Regional President of the Ghana Federation of Persons with Disabilities (GFPD), says prejudices, stigma, discrimination, and failure of society to accommodate persons with disabilities (PWDs) constituted physical barriers hindering the development of the disabled.
He said these challenges, mostly attributed to the social environment and culture needed transformation to the benefit of the disabled.
Mr Frimpong said this at a community sensitization forum on caring for visual impairment children at Brabedze, a Community in the Cape Coast Metropolis.
The programme was organized by the Central Regional Department of Children under the auspices of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP) with funds from the Royal Dutch Visio.
The event is to create awareness among the public to appreciate the rights of persons with visual impairment to freedom of movement, enabling them to feel and explore the environment as they continued to engage in their daily activities.
On challenges confronting them, he said the negative discriminatory attitude and stigmatization of the public had hindered the improvement of PWDs and this must end.
Mr Frimpong urged all to collectively help PWDs fight the emotional and physiological stress that comes with disability in the country.
The Regional President called on the Government to support eye screening in the country to aid early detection of the ailment to avoid further blindness.
Mr Frimpong reiterated the GFPD’s vision to promote an inclusive society for all persons with disabilities in Ghana as it hammered on its mission on their rights.
The Federation would also continue to influence policies, programmes, and activities at the national and local levels to ensure members’ rights were not trampled upon.
He appealed to all to accept and embrace them as their own because their conditions were not their fault.
Madam Ivy Amartey, the Regional Director of the Department said the highlight of the event was to demand the inclusion of PWDs, which implied the provision of a fully accessible barrier-free environment, information and other forms of support for persons with visual impairment in all spheres of development.
She said though bad sight was a weakness, such children had capabilities that needed to be strengthened to inure to their future careers.
“Visually impaired children are people created by God with capabilities and we all have to help them achieve whatever they want to achieve,” she stressed.
The Director asked the children not to be ashamed of their visual impairment but to accept it and seek guidance from people around them.
She appealed to parents to desist from abusing such children physically and verbally but empower them to strengthen their weaknesses and capabilities, saying, “they are not disabled but rather impaired”.
Madam Amartey encouraged the parents to empower themselves with the knowledge on what their wards were attaining, to help them learn at home to achieve their ambitions.
Mr Abugri Wilson, a tutor at Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind, entreated the children not to be passive learners at school but be assertive to enable them to excel academically.
“Assertiveness is a skill every visually impaired or persons with disability need to have, to be able to achieve whatever they want to achieve,” he advised.
He noted that visual challenges were not barriers to higher education, therefore parents should encourage their wards to excel in academics.