Before I go on, let me apologise for being "off-radar" for a LONGTIME. No need for excuses anymore because "Excuses are tools of incompetence, monuments of nothingness and whoever uses it, is not wise".
Let me start this discussion with a question: What are your feelings and reactions towards people with disabilities? Not how you know you should normally behave, but what is your true feelings at first sight?
Persons with disabilities are still often 'invisible' in society, either segregated or simply ignored as passive objects of charity. They are denied their rights to be included in the general school system, to be employed, to live independently in the community, to move freely, to vote, to participate in sport and cultural activities, to enjoy social protection, to live in an accessible built and technological environment, to access justice, to enjoy freedom to choose medical treatments and to enter freely into legal commitments such as buying and selling property.
The most important barriers to the societal integration of disabled people are attitudinal barriers. Often, we're judged (Disabled or Not) unable to do something before we're given an opportunity to try. People who have a "disability" can do most things that a "regularly abled" person can do. They may just do them a little differently. It used to be that people heard the words disability and disabled and handicapped and immediately pictured scenes from those old black-and-white movies: A person bedridden and sickly looking, a blanket covering their frail frame and a round-the-clock nurse for full-time care.
Why? Because it was a simple fact: People with disabilities can't possibly take care of themselves, or even contribute anything worthwhile to society. A majority of persons with disabilities in Nigeria always have a sad deal in terms of acceptance, access and respect for their rights. Our society has yet to come to terms with the fact that there is ability in disability. Even amongst families, these "over able" persons are seen as the bad-luck or curse of the family. HOW SAD!!!
We should remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd American President who was elected an unprecedented four times into office, was for most part of his political career confined to a wheelchair due to polio attack he suffered when he was young. His work also influenced the later creation of the United Nations and Bretton Woods. Roosevelt is consistently rated by scholars as one of the top three U.S. Presidents, along with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.
Whether you use a reading device or glasses to read, or a wheelchair or cane to help you move around, you are capable of learning, growing, and maturing just like someone who does not use these devices. People think and react depending on what they know – and they might not know much about a particular disability or the "ability of the disabled". I see times like this as an opportunity to educate them. People living with disabilities should NEVER be seen less than normal. Provisions should be made for people with disabilities [especially those on wheel chairs] in our architectural designs, designs of public places like the airport, parking lot, seaport, shopping mall and so on. We should consider the disable members of our society. People with disabilities need health care and health programs for the same reasons anyone else does—to stay well, active, and a part of the community. Having physical problems does NOT mean mentally wrong. We have seen genius in wheelchair like Prof Chinua Achebe, blind producer like Cobhams Asuquo and many more!
Assistive technologies (AT) are devices or equipment that can be used to help a person with a disability fully engage in life activities. AT's can help enhance functional independence and make daily living tasks easier through the use of aids that help a person travel, communicate with others, learn, work, and participate in social and recreational activities. These equipment should be made available and affordable for the disabled people by government and organizations.
Persons with disabilities can not assist themselves in setting up their own businesses for economic empowerment. The economic and social status make it increasingly impossible for persons with disabilities to easily gain acceptance and integration into the society. The society are comfortable and prefer giving disabled persons money on the streets to giving them paying jobs and shelter, hence persons living with disabilities see street begging as the only and sure source of income. Street begging is their main source of income and their daily bread depends primarily on that. Platforms for persons with disabilities should be highly encouraged to assist in providing empowerment programmes for disabled persons in the areas on mentoring, skill acquisition, training and sensitization.
I would also love to add that some of the people we refer to as disabled weren't born disabled. Accidents and illnesses cause deformities. In such cases, they are unavoidable, therefore we should not write off the disabled. I believe there are many contributions you have that can help enlighten the public. Let's hear it!!!