The month of November is known as the National Disability Rights Awareness Month. Awareness is raised to protect the rights of persons with disabilities as equal citizens in society. National Disability Rights Awareness Month is celebrated from 3rd November to 3rd December to promote the human and socio-economic rights of peoples with disabilities by making information more available and accessible.
South Africa has about 3 million people living with disabilities, equating to about 7.5% of the country’s population according to Statistics South Africa. People with disabilities are usually mistreated in most societies; they are usually an oppressed minority and are often seen as having a negative effect on society. It is important that South Africans are educated about people living with disabilities and that disabled people have rights too. Good education and awareness are key to making our society more accessible for all.
Why It is Important to Raise Awareness Around Disabilities
- Disability awareness campaigns highlight what daily life is like for somebody with a disability. This could be the struggles people face using public transport or a bathroom. For example, taxis don’t accommodate wheelchairs. It could also highlight what it is like living with discrimination from society as people with disabilities usually suffer from social exclusion.
- People who do not have a disability or do not know anyone who is disabled might not be aware of what it is like to live with a disability or the challenges that can be encountered on a daily basis. Once people are made aware of the problems surrounding disability they will gain empathy and their attitude will change towards people with disabilities.
- By educating people about disabilities, it is hoped that positive changes are made. For example, when people are educated about people with disabilities they will start to protect them from discrimination. If people or business owners don’t know about the problems that people with disabilities may face, they are unlikely to make any changes.
People with disabilities should not be discriminated against because they are humans too. Instead, they should be treated like every human being as they are part of our society. They should be afforded the same amount of respect as anyone else and no one should make them feel that they are worse than everyone else. South Africans should support people with disabilities by including them in all social spaces and help them where possible.
Source: Department of Women, Youth & Persons with Disabilities