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Monday, April 27, 2015

Human rights and disabilities

Hey, I'm Danny, during my time working with International Service I have chosen to write a blog discussing and comparing human rights and disabilities. I have also led my own Group Reflection Session with the Yumba team discussing disabilities and human rights within different cultures and religions. In this blog I will summarise my research, I hope you enjoy!  

Pupils having fun at Yumba whilst improving motor skills


What are human rights? 

Human rights are believed to belong to every person. These rights include life, liberty, equality, fair-trial, freedom from slavery and torture, and freedom of thought and expression.  
Human rights were developed in the aftermath of the second World War and are protected as legal rights by municipal and international laws. 

What are disabilities? 

A disability is the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or some combination of these. There are 2 types of disabilities which are intellectual and physical disabilities. A physical disability may affect your movement, sight or hearing whereas an intellectual disability may affect your cognitive abilities and adaptive behaviours.  

There are many types of intellectual disabilities, some of which are autism, Asperger's, ADHD and Down's Syndrome. 
There are also many different types of physical disabilities which to say a few are Multiple SclerosisParalysis (complete or partial)Cerebral Palsy,Stroke,and Parkinson's Disease.                     

You are not always born with a disability and as many people in other cultures believe having a disability is not because of “witchcraft” or “a curse” there are many factors which may cause a disability which include: 

  • An infant can be born with spina bifida, which may affect walking. 
  • A child could be in a car crash and have traumatic brain injury, which may affect thinking and remembering. 
  • A young adult can have depression or another mental illness, which may make it difficult to manage day-to-day stressful situations. 
  • A woman in early midlife can develop multiple sclerosis, which may make it difficult to move around. 
  • A college student with epilepsy whose seizures are stimulated by stress may need accommodations with activities such as long tests. 
  • A man in late midlife can develop hearing loss, which may affect how he communicates. 
  • An older adult can lose eyesight from glaucoma. 

Group reflection  

At Yumba special school we are working to promote human rights and raise disability awareness. Meeting the kids and teachers at Yumba special school has been an incredible emotional roller-coaster. Whilst the teachers are inspiring I personally can't help but to see the lack of essential resources needed to continue the amazing work at the school. Disabilities in the UK tend to be a lot more accepted, understood and well supported but there is also a way to go.  
In my opinion the students at Yumba are being denied the right to proper healthcare, sanitation, education and freedom of thought and expression. Yumba's very existence works towards the right to equality and the right to life and is an essential resource 

During Team Yumba’s Group Reflection we found that both people from Ghana and the UK had the same opinion about disabilities, we all believe we should all be equal. When the team was asked which right they found most important they found the right to life to be the most important... The team said without the right to life the other rights won't exist. 

We also discussed the Winterbourne View case in which adults with disabilities were physically and psychology abused at a care home in England. The team found this horrific but it also clarified to the team that some of the stereotypical incidents which occur in the Ghana also occur in the UK and again there is a long way to go in both the UK and Ghana to gain equality for those with disabilities 

The team was split into two to discuss the differences in disability between Ghana and the UK. 

The UK team believed there are: 

  •  Lots of laws protecting those with disabilities 
  •  Mobility access for all 
  •  Good standards of education 
  •  Respite care homes 
  •  Nursing care homes 
  •  Access to work schemes which help businesses employ disabled people 
  •  Social services 
  •  Support for families  
  •  Specialist hospitals 
  •  Disability education 
  •  Specialised doctors 
  •  General disability funds (Although these are being cut) 
  •  Families being turned down care due to lack of funding 
  •  Cuts within government  
  • Services which should be provided by government that are instead being provided by charities and art organisations 
  
The team from Ghana said people with disabilities are: 

  • Seen as a curse  
  • Seen as a gift from god, that can provide a test of faith 
  • Often called negative names  
  • Likely to suffer from misfortune  
  • Seen as having a contagious disease  

To finish my blog here’s some interesting facts: 

  • Approximately 10% of Ghana’s 20 million citizens are persons with disability. 
  • In 2000, 80.2% of the general population in Ghana was employed. However, only 69% of persons with disability had a job. 
  • In 2006 Parliament implemented the ‘Persons with Disability Act’, which aims to provide a legal framework for persons with disability in Ghana. 
  •  If the name of a person with disability remains on the job search list for more than two years, the Ministry shall give the person appropriate training,   provide that person with necessary working tools and assist the person to access loan capital to start a business. 

  • There are 9.4 million disabled people in England, accounting for 18 per cent of the population. 45% male and 55% female. 
  • About 985,000 people in England have a learning disability (2 per cent of the population) 
  • The North East of England has the highest proportion of disabled people, accounting for 22 per cent of the population 
  • Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of people have admitted they avoid disabled people because they don't know how to act around them  
  • 180 disability hate crimes are committed every day in this country.  
  • There are 1.86 million people in the UK with sight loss, It is predicted that by 2020 the number of people with sight loss will rise to over 2,250,000. By 2050, the numbers of people with sight loss in the UK will double to nearly four million 


In conclusion disability awareness needs improving in both countries. Although the UK is more developed and has a lot more support for disabilities, both intellectual and physical, this could be because people are more educated on disabilities from a young age and also the media cover a lot of topics based around disabilities which increases awareness. Ghana is a less developed country with less access to education and less laws on these particular issues. 

Some of the team doing a  radio sensitisation at Zaa FM


Our work at Yumba will hopefully continue to raise awareness of intellectual disabilities making a better life for the wonderful children at the school. 


Here's two useful sources of information if you want to find out more: 


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