James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr
December 3, 2022 last Saturday commemorated the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Disabled People (IDDP). The theme for this year is: “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world.”
Rights of Youth and Disability (RYD) International, a youth and disability focused CSO, has thrown an invitation to all persons to join in the celebration.
The invitation is at the behest of James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr, Executive Director, RYD International, formerly Youth for Action Ghana, and a PhD Candidate with research interest in Disability and Leadership at the Department of Integrated Development Studies, University of Cape Coast.
RYD International in the release observes that while Ghana has from its very foundations paid attention to disability concerns, there appears to be an enforcement deficit with policies and legislation.
“A recent successfully defended Doctor of Philosophy thesis at the University of Cape Coast confirmed this observation and made some important cultural findings too,” the release pointed out.
Continuing, the release stated that “among the said findings was that, disability is not a taboo but a competitive disadvantage to leadership in Asante and Gonja, contrary to widespread cultural misconceptions. There are similar studies on disability being undertaken mainly by students under the University of Siegen, Germany and University of Ghana collaborative project, LICOT-WASO.”
The National Council for Persons with Disability (NCPD) and various agencies of state mandated with the responsibility of implementing the Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) must track and locate such academic endeavours for an open, inclusive and effective collaboration, the release demanded.
While stating that disability is not an inability, the release noted that Ghana has examples of persons with disability who have defied their bodily conditions and the social constructions into leadership positions in public and private institutions.
“Data also shows that the number of PWDs in Ghana moved from 13,000 in 1963 to 737,743 in 2010, and to 2,098,138 in 2021,” the release notes, and continuing that “Research is conclusive that disability is an inevitable human condition not to be avoided. It is clear that all human beings experience disability one way or the other from childhood through adulthood to old age if one is blessed with longevity.”
The release observes that “we crawl at infancy and crawl at old age. Therefore, instead of any exclusion, we must embrace disability as a ubiquitous human nature. Disability could result from fetal formation through hereditary and non-hereditary complexities as well as delivery complications.”
There are reported incidents of childhood and adolescence adventure accidental disabilities, it stated adding that “disease and sickness can also lead to disability. In fact, chronic ailments are capped under disability as well as advance in age weakening of human cells.”
The late Member of Parliament for Navrongo Central, Joseph Kofi Adda, the release recalled, aptly said during the debate on Act 715, “there is a fine line between ability and disability, and we all stand the risk of becoming disabled one day. I think with this law coming into force, all of us who are at risk will stand protected by the law.”
All, the release stated, “are all duty bound and conscience guided to get involved, because, none is free of disability!”