Accessibility is fundamental to the concept of disability rights. Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD, 2006) states that:
To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas (1).
Therefore, Ghana (having ratified the UN CRPD in 2008), has an obligation to bring their policies and programmes in line with the principles of the Convention, including that of accessibility.
However, currently, there remains a lack of any systematic implementation. 3 out of 4 of people with disabilities responding to a recent survey conducted by FHI in Adaklu District about access to humanitarian services reported inadequate access and use of public places, such public footpaths and walkways parks; public swimming pools and public toilets; educational institutions; office blocks; shops and department stores; banks; cafes; restaurants and pubs; theatres and entertainment venues; libraries; sporting venues; social and sporting clubs; public transport and aeroplanes; hospitals and government-run services.
To FHI, creating a barrier-free environment is key to including people with disabilities as equal members of society. Our work ensures persons with disabilities can enter, pass to and from, and make use of a built environment without undue difficulties or outside assistance. We believe that when steps are taken to remove physical barriers, society as whole—including children, older people, those with chronic diseases, or even parents pushing strollers—can benefit.
At FHI, we believe that people with disabilities should have equal access to rights, opportunities, and services and be protected from discrimination, abuse, and neglect. Sadly, many of the Ghana’s persons with disabilities are routinely denied even the most basic human rights.
In many of the poorest communities, where we work, disability is treated as a stigma. Shunned by their community and excluded from school, employment, healthcare, and other services due to direct discrimination or a lack of physical accessibility or appropriate resources, people with disabilities often live in extreme poverty and isolation. They are also disproportionately affected by physical and sexual violence.
FHI actively works to incorporate accessibility into all of its programs, and runs several projects wholly devoted to improving physical accessibility. In projects and programs including emergencies FHI works with Community- Based Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, local communities, and local government authorities to reduce barriers for people with disabilities. This might entail providing support for, and facilitate the accommodation of individuals with disabilities, so that all may share the same level of access to the goods and services. FHI works to eliminate or minimize the adverse effects of barriers, including physical, environmental, attitudinal, communication and technological barriers, which may prevent the full participation of individuals with disabilities