Don’t we all love it? No, not the bank. Eww. I mean the liberty or ability to enter, approach, or communicate with a person or thing. When we think access, we think of our network, social capital, and things money can afford us. Unless, of course, you are one of the 15% of the world’s population that experiences some form of disability.
Take a look at the Nigerian 2016 Paralympic medal Tally of eight golds, two silvers, and two bronzes. Now, put this side-by-side our one bronze medal in the preceding Olympic Games, one would imagine that the country highly regards its disabled population, but it’s the exact opposite. Consider that Nigeria only just signed into law the Discrimination against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) Act two years ago. The attitude of institutions and individuals towards people with disabilities can be reasonably inferred.
With more than 10% of the population being disabled, 27 million people do not have access – not to luxury or affluence but rather mundane things like buildings, bathrooms, and public transport. The architecture of many structures does not put the disabled population into consideration. It is evident in the absence of ramps to the small doorways and many more details. Beyond this, we have not made many institutions work for the disabled.
In the same vein, educational institutions and resources suitable for various disabilities are not easy to come by due to the fact that they are very expensive. If health services for people with disabilities exist, they are invariably of poor quality or under-resourced. Coupled with the physical barriers, inadequate skills of health workers, and possible communication barriers, it becomes clear how difficult it is for people with disabilities to access already-expensive healthcare.
Furthermore, access to jobs is also arduous for the disabled community because of the stigma and people treating them as “one-dimensional charity cases”. Disabled people are one of the most economically disadvantaged because of these factors. It’s saddening, and I do hope things can change for the better.
Things would only get better if we as individuals and our institutions are intentional about change and enforcing existing laws. Let’s all help disabled people get access to the things of life. It shouldn’t be a privilege.
P.S: You might want to catch Nigeria’s amazing athletes(World record-holders even) in this year’s Paralympic Games, this August.
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