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people with disabilities LEADING development
Submitted by jcravens42 on December 18, 2008 - 12:35pm.
People with disabilities are of concern for aid, relief and development workers in three ways:
* People with disabilities usually need special assistance in conflict, disaster, crisis and development situations
In addition, many aid workers themselves are people with disabilities, and may face distinct challenges in their work because of such.
Negative attitudes toward people with disabilities abound, and not just in the developing world. One recent example: An official guidebook for Chinese volunteers at the Beijing Olympics referred to physically disabled people as a "special group," describing them as "stubborn and controlling." Many employers are reluctant to hire people with disabilities, preferring to pay fines rather than meet government requirements regarding hiring such people. Very few schools, clinics, government buildings and other structures in the developing world have wheelchair and other special access for the physically impaired. Some cultures teach that a family with a disabled person is somehow cursed by evil forces and, therefore, should be avoided. Aid, relief and development workers with disabilities may not be chosen for a job they are uniquely qualified for because the employer doesn't believe a person with a disability could do such work.
The physical world isn't the only place where people with disabilities find obstacles: many web sites, software and other technology tools are not built to be accessible by people with disabilities (someone who is blind or deaf, for instance) or for someone using an assistive technology tool. This can be especially dire for people who rely on a particular web site for critical information for their lives, their jobs, etc.
The AWN advice page on people with disabilities links to various web sites that help aid, relief and development workers address these issues.