Africa Dec 2, 2016
ACCRA: Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) on Wednesday said one vital elements of empowering Persons With Disabilities is by ensuring that all public spaces and facilities are accessible to all.
This, she noted, would help reduce stigma and enhance integration measures for persons with disabilities.
The Gender Minister said this in a speech read on her behalf at the launch of the Ghana Standards on Accessibility Design Document in Accra.
The document provides specification on how buildings, roads and recreational centres should be designed so as to make them accessible to all especially persons with disabilities.
It would also serve as a useful tool for those involved in the design, implementation, supervision and decision making on various programmes where accessibility was a component.
Nana Oye Lithur said government understood that accessibility and inclusiveness in the society was a human right that must be protected and upheld in all facets of the society hence development of the document.
The Sector Minister noted that to ensure that proper attention was paid to Persons with Disability government had made frantic effort to mainstream issues concerning them in the country’s National Social Protection Strategy and Poverty Reduction interventions.
“Currently over 3,800 Persons With Disabilities have registered on the National Health Insurance Scheme. Persons with disabilities are key target of our Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty programme.
“We have also developed Disability Employment Modules for Persons with Disability under the Youth Employment Agency. Currently the Agency employs over 2,000 Persons with Disability,” the Gender Minister noted.
Nana Oye Lithur announced that draft guidelines on the usage of sign language, braille and other accessible formats have also been developed.
“This is meant to ensure that MDA’s (Ministries, Departments and Agencies), MMDA (Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies) and other agencies provide the necessary facilities that make information and services accessible to Persons With Disability,” she said.
In addition, she said at the local level, the Ministry was encouraging the nomination of persons with disabilities as government appointees at all MMDAs to ensure greater participation of PWD’s in decision making at all levels.
She said government had also increased the District Assembly Common Fund for persons with disabilities from two per cent to three per cent adding that the Ministry would set up monitoring mechanisms to ensure that standards were implemented to the letter.
“As a government we assure that an additional 30 per cent increase of the District Assemblies Common Fund reserved for persons with disabilities to cater for their free NHIS subscription,” she added.
According to her government is also reviewing the Disability Act 2006 (Act 715) in order to conform to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disability.
“Work is also in progress on the development of the Legislative Instrument on the existing Act,” Nana Oye Lithur said.
Nana Oye Lithur noted that currently, there was inadequate data on persons with disabilities and that was making planning and programme difficult.
However, she said government was poised to offer special assistance for the education of pupils and students with disabilities including schools for blind, deaf, autism and cerebral palsy.
Mr Kwesi Amo-Himbson, Chief Director, MoGCSP recounted that Ghana Standards on Accessibility Design should have been done long along noting that the document launched was worthwhile.
According to him the document was going to bring some comfortability to persons with disabilities and access to public buildings.
He commended the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and Open Society Initiative for West Africa, for their immersed support in bringing standards on accessibility for persons with disabilities.
Mr Kofi Negatey, Deputy Executive Director, GSA, observed that Ghana was one of the few countries that had taken issues on Disability further, adding accessibility was a key element that could not ignored.
The Ministry presented 10 motorised transport (Tricycles) to the various groups. The tricycles, a demonstration models for the physically challenged persons would be presented to the National Federation of Disabled persons for Evaluation.