Disability: Introduction

Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in 2000:

"We know that persons with disabilities frequently live in deplorable conditions, and face physical and social barriers, which prevent their integration and full participation in the community. As a result, millions of adults and children throughout the world are segregated, deprived of virtually all their rights, and sometimes lead wretched and marginalized lives. This is completely unacceptable"

In 2006, the UN finally acted and agreed an international treaty to support the rights and freedoms of disabled people – the first Human Rights convention to be adopted on a global scale this millenium.

"Once you get the paradigm shift... and people adopt a 'can do' rather than a 'can't do' approach, a whole lot of other things flow from there"
Don Mackay, chairman UN Disability Convention, August 2006

blue-bulletOn the UN's enable website, the complete text of the treaty is available in various languages.

ImageThe Human Rights approach to tackling disability means thinking in terms of Inclusion: that everybody, regardless of sex, race, disability etc. should have a dwelling, food, education etc. Inclusion says that the disabled should be brought into the mainstream.

Disability is something created not only by the problem (e.g. blindness) but also by the way society sees the problem and how it reacts to the problem. In some societies, a blind person is seen as “differently abled”; there is money available for appropriate schooling, aids and adaptations. That person can reasonably expect some of what most people receive – education, paid employment, a family. But in another society the same person could be kept out of sight, seen as a stigma on the family and deprived of almost any chances or choices.

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nicolien 2015
Nicolien Wassenaar
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