ABU(Junior Group) Fine Work
Advocating for human rights of persons with visual impairment, who and how
Mohamad Nakkash Lebanon (24, male )
First, the characterization of disability:
Disability is a deficit most commonly known as being permanent which affects the patient, such as loss of sight, hearing or talking disability, whether it is labeled a disability or a special need. That being said, people carrying a form of disability still suffer from marginalization, segregation and even isolation at times despite the great efforts exerted by the international and local civil societies as well as the demands movements to defend their rights and support.
Second: How to claim a disability rights:
One thing disability cannot do is eliminate the ability and determination a human possesses, so we should therefore work on strengthening and enrooting human rights for people with disabilities in every sector given that he will eventually be able to prove himself and illustrate his competence. As for people with -mainly- visual disabilities, they have first and foremost to look at the services and facilities made available by the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs as well as at the status of the country’s educational system, and it is only by doing so that they can get to know the best way to claim their rights, in collaboration with parents and community associations, and thus putting themselves on the right track on the path of acquiring their rights and integrating in society where they will finally manage to fulfill their potential and eventually build their own selves.
Third, The problems faced by a visually handicapped person:
The visually handicapped has already his fair share of obstacles to go through, which is the consequence of many reasons starting by the way they are overlooked by their own society where they are deemed incapable of fulfilling any task. They are being looked at through the tainted spectacles of charity and pity and not from an objective and clear point of view which would make their ability of doing a lot crystal clear in front of everyone to see, leaving them virtually in a small pond ravaged by the piranhas of social prejudices. These prejudices are fueled by first impressions and by external point to view where we are too lazy to care enough to start looking at their own abilities. The other main issue holding the visually disabled back lies in the absence of the required equipment still unavailable in the country:
Let us start by the unequipped roads clearly not qualified to host visually impaired passengers not to mention the traffic lights that leaves them with no clue whatsoever in helping them finding the right time to cross the road or not. The third major problem is the failure of the public transportation service in ensuring the safety of this group of people because of a lack of equipment. And if that was not bad enough, they also need to endure additional problems like being practically unable to join the best schools even though we would like to salute the few of them making the efforts to secure their needs, but those schools are sadly too isolated in their work which is solely driven by individual initiatives and therefore too weak to cause a major upset in the reality imposed upon us and that is precisely what is holding them back in their quest of reaching our desired level.
Fourth, what the Ministry of Social Affairs do to the visually handicapped
The Ministry of Social Affairs is the ministry concerned with visually disabled persons, (1) it has to listen to their problems and needs, and try to resolve them in appropriate ways, (2) it provides for the disabled visually disability card that will assist them in securing some of their needs, it can also help identify them, just like (3) it helps them by training them to bear the burdens of life, as well as (4) freeing them from some taxes set by the state such as municipality fees, and (5) allowing them to avoid paying car registration fees in case they buy one, enabling them last but not least (6) to find a parking to it quite easily. But this ministry does not assist people who are visually impaired in securing employment leaving the law 220/2000 a dead corpse, and although there is a clause stating that 3 percent of the staff of each institution must be consisted of visually disabled people, it has never come to fruition and neither has it influenced the slightest the employers. In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs is not doing its part in educating employers about the proper way to deal with people with visual disabilities, which makes joining for them any convenient job all the more difficult and all the less possible, due to the lack of suitable work offered by the employer to them that doesn’t correspond by any means to their needs and abilities, causing their refusal of the proposed job.
Fifth: the integration of the disabled in schools
Education is a basic need and must be accessible to each and every one of us, it must include all people, regardless of their social status, whether rich or poor, and regardless of their case, whether a disabled or not. We can only speak about integration when a visually disabled person becomes able to go to school and gets access to the same scholar needs as everyone else’s. And for teaching to be inclusive we should firstly raise the matter of awareness to the school management and teachers under the lead of NGOs and parents, secondly make the disabled’s classmates as well as their parents aware of the presence of a visually disabled student in class and teach them how to accept it, which will then be the stepping stone that will enable us to request and demand the required equipment such as establishing schools by providing it with appropriate stairs and facilitating access to classes as well as securing special technological equipment, and it is worth saying that the Ministry of Education has made and continues to make several attempts to make schools inclusive even if it doesn’t always pay off completely, so we can clearly say that not all of our hopes have come to fruition and neither has it reached the level hoped for despite of the existence of some schools applying inclusiveness to a certain extend via individual initiatives in collaboration with parental organizations, due to the unavailability of the necessary funds to equip all schools in Lebanon and the difficulty of access to equipped educational materials. As for universities, they are still weak in the field of accepting visually impaired people and still do not know how to deal with them properly.
Sixth: the rights of the disabled and how to claim them
The visually impaired people have many rights, as stated by the Lebanese law 220/2000 as well as the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which took place in the year 2006, it constitutes an international agreement signed in order to help people visually impaired to get their rights, and this claim for rights may be through parents and civil associations and the visually impaired themselves.
The civil organizations demand the rights of persons with disabilities through seminars they hold, such as the ones set up in the purpose of studying the 220/2000 law and trying to insert modifications into it so it can fit with the Lebanese laws. In addition to the fact that they are sometimes inviting the concerned ministers to these seminars so that people with disabilities can make their voices heard just as they are sometimes demonstrations to get those rights while also educating the visually impaired about their rights and exhorting them claim them.
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to affirm that a great deal of responsibility lies on the shoulders of the visually disabled’s parents who should fight tooth and nail for their kids rights through all kinds of media to reach the broadest coverage possible as well as collaborating with the state to ensure the total and integral exertion of all the laws stipulated by the aforementioned conventions, because at the end of the day nobody knows the kids like their own parents, they are the ones in direct contact with them every day of the week and who have full knowledge of all their problems and needs as well as capacities. That being said, the role of the visually disabled themselves in demanding their rights cannot go underestimated seeing that they know better than anyone else what they want and what they need, so they should therefore lead the fight in the quest of seeing all their rights implemented to the last one.
The disabled is a human being in their own right like any other human being, albeit he may differ from the others a little bit, but this does not alter the slightest his social and humanitarian worth. So from this point of view we can safely say that people with visual disabilities have the same rights as any other human being, and that the only way to claim these rights is a full and complete study of the problems he faces in his societal life, he should also take an attentive look at the situation in the ministry directly concerned by his conditions and which seeks to teach him the science that can help raise his value in society, a step that he must do alongside parents and civil organizations. One last question remains, will existing laws and legislation in Lebanon prove enough for visually disabled people to achieve their rights and integration into society and ensure self-fulfillment?