Disability in South Africa

Did you know that the Disability sector is now classified under the Department of Women, Children and People with disabilities which falls under the Department of Social Development? For many persons with disabilities and advocacy groups this may be concerning given that inclusive policy-making is more suited being addressed as part of human rights objectives rather than viewed as a societal development matter. Why is this important?

·         An understanding of disability as a human rights issue leads to a recognition and acknowledgement that people with disabilities are equal citizens and should therefore enjoy equal rights and responsibilities.

·         This implies that the needs of every individual are of equal importance, and those needs must be made the basis for planning. It further implies that resources must be employed in such a way as to ensure that every individual has equal opportunities for participation in society.

·         In addition to rights, people with disabilities should have equal obligations within society and should be given the support necessary to enable them to exercise their responsibilities. This requires society to raise its expectations of people with disabilities.

·         A human rights and development approach to disability focuses on the removal of barriers to equal participation and the elimination of discrimination based on disability.

What is independent living look like?

Independent Living is a philosophy and a movement of people with disabilities who work for self-determination, equal opportunities and self-respect. Independent Living does not mean that we want to do everything by ourselves and do not need anybody or that we want to live in isolation, it means that we demand the same choices and control in our every-day lives that our non-disabled brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends take for granted. We want to grow up in our families, go to the neighborhood school, use the same bus as our neighbors, work in jobs that are in line with our education and interests, and start families of our own.

 This White Paper for the Integrated National Disability Strategy paints a sobering picture of what it means to be disabled for most South Africans. As parents lets change that perception by spreading awareness and involvement in outreach projects.