The United Nations, General Assembly’s Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons affirms that disabled people should enjoy the same fundamental rights and freedoms as non-disabled people. It affirms that disabled people should have access to medical care, education and employment opportunities and those governments should promote social integration of the disabled into the society and should take measures to ensure the dignity of the disabled promote the ability to be self-reliant in the disabled (United Nations General Assembly). In the following lines we shall discuss some of the issues related to the rights of the disabled.
Respect for Human Dignity
Nowadays with the rise in education societal attitudes towards the disabled have changed for the better, it is no longer considered socially acceptable to mock and ridicule the disabled in polite company, at least among adults. Children however, often react with horror or amusement to disabled people. It is necessary to teach children, from an early age, to respect everyone and not to mock people who are different. Both parents and teachers should have frank discussions with children on the issue of disability and try to instill in them empathy and compassion with respect to the disabled (Editorial). This has to be done in a manner that maintains the human dignity of the disabled in the minds of the children and does not lead to them infantilizing the disabled.
Political Rights and Freedoms
As citizens of a democratic country, disabled people have the right to vote in the country’s elections. This raises the issue of voting booth access. Voting booths should be located in places with wheelchair access (ramps etc.). There are a number of small steps that can be taken to provide for disabled voters, for example for blind voters:
“These means include a walkman cassette player with a tape-recording containing candidate and proposition information and systematic instructions for using the system, resulting in a completed ballot indistinguishable from all other punch cards.” (Ward, Baker and Moon)
This shows how solutions for disabled voters need not be very hi-tech; they just need vision and concern on the part of the government agencies overseeing the vote.
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