The Ashanti Regional Branch of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD) has launched the 2022 World Disability Day in Kumasi with a call on the government to step up efforts to make public facilities accessible to Persons Living with Disability (PWDs).
The day, which is celebrated annually on December 3, was set aside by the United Nations in 1992 to promote the understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of social, political, economic and cultural life.
This year’s celebration is on the theme: “Transformative Solutions for Inclusive Development: The Role of Innovations in Fuelling an Accessible and Equitable World.”
The launch was, therefore, to officially mark the beginning of series of activities lined up by various disability groups belonging to the GFD ahead of the celebration on December 3.
An incident that occurred just before the commencement of the programme highlighted the need to design public facilities to accommodate PWDs.
The Chairman for the occasion, who sat in a wheel-chair, could not access the podium because there was no ramp to make it accessible to persons, using wheel-chairs for their mobility.
The organisers had to improvise by ushering him into the hall through the back door, a situation that left participants worried about how years of advocacy for disability friendly public facilities remained a huge challenge confronting PWDs.
Mr Ntim Twumasi Kwaku, a businessman, who chaired the event in his opening remarks, urged the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) to take urgent steps to correct the anomaly at the Prempeh Assembly Hall, where the event was held.
He said the government as policy makers must show the way for other stakeholders to follow in the advocacy for disability friendly facilities in the country.
Mr Daniel Baah Appiadu, Regional Secretary of the GFD, speaking on the theme for the celebration, underlined the need for deliberate efforts to ensure inclusive development that left no one behind.
He said PWDs were capable of contributing meaningfully to national development if provided with the needed opportunities and facilities as citizens without discrimination.
He reiterated the need to make public places accessible to PWDs while taking pragmatic steps to address the health, education and economic needs of the vulnerable as a country committed to the promotion of human rights.
Mr. Simon Osei-Mensah, the Ashanti Regional Minister, in a speech read for him said the disabled community had over the years benefitted from several policy interventions but more needed to be done to make life comfortable for them.
The government’s initiative to increase the Disability Fund from 2.5 to 3 per cent was a clear indication of its commitment towards the welfare of PWDs.
“It is important that as a nation we do more to address discrimination and exclusion against persons with disabilities regarding transportation, infrastructure, Information Communication Technology to make our cities, rural areas and society more inclusive,” he observed.