Lack of accessibility a key barrier to the full participation of people with disabilities

Asia-Pacific, News, February 26 2015

NADI, FIJI: Accessing quality education and proper employment opportunities is still a challenge for youths with disabilities in the Pacific.

While the protection and promotion of disability rights and interest for persons with disabilities in the Pacific is progressing, there is still more that needs to be done to ensure that youths with disabilities in the Pacific have full access to education and employment opportunities.

Naunau O’E Alamaite Tonga Association (NATA) youth President Ms. Ana Pela Talakai said, that more needs to be done to ensure full access to education for persons with disabilities in Tonga.

In her presentation at the Pacific Youth Conference on Disability, Ms Talakai said despite the existence of three disability schools in Tonga, challenges remains for the full access to education for persons with disabilities.

Ms Talakai added that there is a need to advocate and lobby for the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to ensure full accessibility.

She highlighted the absence of ramps, assistive technologies, sign language teachers, accessible transportation and buildings and budget allocation for persons with disabilities is depriving them from enjoying everyday life as normal.

Furthermore, Ms. Rosy Kissun of the Fiji Disabled Peoples Federation stressed the need to enforce current laws that protects the interest of persons with disabilities in Fiji.

She said that while the Employment Regulation Promulgation in Fiji ensures the inclusion of persons with disabilities in employment opportunities, the lack of enforcement by relevant enforcement agencies in implementing this law is proving to be a hindrance for persons with disabilities to obtain decent employment.

Ms Kissun believes that the lack of knowledge that employers have on the accessible needs of persons with disabilities, the stigma that society have for persons with disabilities and the lack of enabling working environment often limits employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.

She stressed the need for DPO to work together with the government to review the building code and current legislations and policies on employment and education to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities and strengthen partnership and action towards a disability inclusive society.

Skill development a challenge for youth with disabilities

Youths with disabilities in the Solomon Islands find it hard to access skills development and entrepreneurship training due to discriminatory treatments.

These were the words of the Pacific Disability Forum’s Youth Co-chair Mr Charlie Maeke.

Speaking at the Pacific Youth Regional Conference on Disability, Maeke said accessibility to education and employment opportunities for youths with disabilities in the Solomon Islands is a challenge.

“It is a challenge for youth with disabilities in the Solomon Islands to access scholarships for the TVET program and getting enrolled to the program, is virtually impossible as priorities are given to young people without disabilities,” Mr Maeke said.

While DPO’s plays an important role to lobby for the protection and promotion of the rights and interests of people with disabilities, governments play a vital role in ensuring that persons with disabilities are included in their programs.

Mr Maeke further said that employment is another major challenge as they were not accepted in the work industry due to their disabilities.

“Most of our youth in Solomon Islands wants to start our small business on the trade that we have, but because of our disability we are not entitle for loan scheme and there is limited access to information on skills development that are available for young people,” he said.

Mr Maeke emphasised the need for governments, development partners and stakeholders together with Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) to include young people with disabilities in skills development and other training programs.

He said it was vital that youths with disabilities be equipped with the knowledge on how to write business plans, be financial literate and be able to develop project proposal for small businesses.

Source: Tonga Daily News

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