Disability Rights Awareness Month falls from 03 November to 03 December 2020. 03 December is celebrated as International Day of Persons with Disabilities and is intended to recognise the talents and abilities of persons with disabilities, debunk myths and stereotypes, and to foster tolerance and integration at a societal level.
Cabinet approved Disability Rights Awareness Month in 2013. Persons with Disabilities have much to contribute to society and form a part of government’s seven priority areas in growing South Africa. To fast track integration Disability Rights Awareness Month seeks to turn our attention to the disability sector and to get South Africa to understand the programmes of government and civil society in showing support for persons with disabilities.
Disability specific commemorative days and months, e.g. World Autism Awareness Day, National Month of Deaf People, Albinism Awareness Month etc. are led and coordinated by disability organisations. Disability Rights Awareness Month (3 November – 3 December) focuses in particular (i) as a platform of report back by government on measures taken/to be taken to equalise opportunities for persons with disabilities, and (ii) on celebrating the achievements and contributions persons with disabilities make to socio-economic development and nation-building.
MESSAGES UNDER THEMES:
Week 1 (03 – 07 Nov)
Sub-Theme: Accelerating inclusive learning environments for persons with disabilities at all levels
- Education is key to persons with disabilities becoming active players in the economy
- Too many learners remain out of the schooling system due to inability to access education
- No learner with a disability should be out of school
- Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Education must ensure reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities
- Break stigmas around persons with disabilities being dependents
- Put the person before the disability to see their full potential
- Do not stereotype about disabilities
- Learners with cognitive challenges may require a little more time to grasp concepts so learning spaces must be sensitive to this.
- Inclusive learning environments includes training of staff, teachers as well as sensitisation training for fellow learners and students, access to assistive devices
Week 2 (08 - 14 Nov)
Sub-Theme: Rebuilding responsive disaster management strategies that places persons with disabilities at the centre
- Persons with disabilities are more severely impacted in times of national disaster
- Information in accessible formats is difficult to find
- Shelters and organisations caring for persons with disabilities are impacted by cuts in donations, funding support and volunteers, impacting the quality of lives of persons with disabilities
- COVID-19 has demonstrated that Care centres, testing centres, facilities open to the public were slow to adapt to persons with disabilities
- Ensuring persons with disabilities are at the centre of disaster management strategies will ensure that no one is left behind
- Access to information during times of national disaster is key
- COVID-19 has impacted on services and medical care that persons with disabilities require impacting on quality of life.
Week 3 (15 - 21 Nov)
Sub-Theme: Rebuilding an economy accessible to all persons with disabilities
- National Priority 1: Economic Transformation and Job Creation: Access to economies for persons with disabilities is about training, skilling, representation in workforces, as well as in management, as well as enabling environments to allow persons with disabilities to work.
- This concept also applies to older persons, persons who require frail care, persons with mental health challenges, etc.
- Industries must ensure representation of persons with disabilities – 7% and beyond!
- Persons with disabilities are able to perform jobs abled bodies persons are able to
- Challenging stigmas is one of the biggest hurdles in ensuring persons with disabilities access the economy
- Persons with disabilities do not want to be dependents. They want to be tax payers!
- Mainstreaming disability is about strengthening the economy, not supporting the disability sector
- Reduce inequality of opportunities for persons with disabilities
Week 4 (22 Nov – 28 Nov)
Sub-Theme: Creating an accessible justice system that seek to address the risk of compounded marginalisation and assisted decision-making legal framework
- Persons with disabilities do not have access to justice, due to lack of consistent and predictable reasonable accommodation support measures in police stations and in courts, as well as the cost associated with accessing the higher courts.
- Persons with disabilities feel pushed to the fringes of society leading to others forms of marginalisation and access to services.
- SAPS approved its Disability Strategy as well as Disability Access Implementation Plan in 2019
- Persons with disabilities who are survivors of GBV lack trust in the justice system and sometimes are unable to access SAPS and services due to challenges associated with disabilities
- Disability is not grounds to distrust persons with disabilities reporting abuse or crime!
- Women with disabilities in rural areas do not have access to information on disability and services of government.
Week 5 (29 Nov – 03 Dec)
Sub-Theme: Launch of 365 Disability Rights Awareness Campaign and outlining department’s plans in promoting National Priorities
- Overall empowerment of persons with disabilities and ensuring a South Africa inclusive of the rights of persons with disabilities
- The final week coincides with the 16 Days of Activism for Violence Against Women and Children Campaign
- Government continues to do work year round to support disability programmes – This must be communicated year round, with statements being released by all departments sharing information on work done to mainstream disability in achieving the country’s 7 priorities.