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  4. June 2015 - Volume 80
  5. Disabling Social Environment

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FOCUS June 2015 Volume 80

Disabling Social Environment


The suffering of persons with disabilities stems from various sources, including a disabling social environment. When viewed as insignificant members of society, persons with disabilities can easily be ignored, forgotten or abused.

This disabling social environment allows people in relevant institutions to create barriers to meaningful contribution of persons with disabilities to the development of society. This can be seen in cases of children with disabilities being prevented from learning in school, or those who are not given the chance to get employed, or those who cannot avail of appropriate medical services, or those whose mobility is hindered by physical barriers. This certainly applies when persons with disabilities are not properly involved in programs that are meant for them.

The development of international standards on the rights of persons with disabilities is a significant step in finding practical means of ensuring that these members of society are not suffering just because of their disabilities. And part of the solution to ending their suffering is in the protection of and support for their human rights.

The view that disabilities are “part of the human experience” as expressed in the 2010 Pacific Rim Declaration for Disability-Inclusive Millennium Development Goals supports the need for a new social norm on recognition of and support for the rights of persons with disabilities because they are significant part of the society just like everyone else.