The President of the Disability Needs Foundation, Mr. Billy Wilson, speaks about the purpose of his organization and the rationale behind its participation in the Portraits of Ability research project.
People with disabilities in Ghana are marginalized and excluded all too often. The high prevalence of people with disabilities on the street as beggars contributes to attitudes that people with disabilities are worthless and non-contributors to society. Disparities in education, cultural beliefs, intense stigmatization and the lack of awareness have contributed to this problem.
The mission of Disability Needs Foundation is to be a mouthpiece and watchdog for this target group of people in Ghana through research and advocacy and to facilitate high impact programs designed to empower persons with disabilities and their families to meet their own needs.
I want to see persons with disabilities, regardless of physical capabilities, participating fully in society as informed, active and financially-secure citizens. In order to promote positive perceptions of persons with disabilities and seek to eliminate discriminatory social and attitudinal barriers, we have begun an intense campaign on inclusive education and stigmatization into schools and other social gatherings for attitudinal change.
We are also undertaking this research project, Portraits of Ability, about the abilities of persons with disabilities to raise awareness about the experiences of our members. Members of the Disability Needs Foundation choose to participate in this project voluntarily and receive no monetary compensation for participating.
The purpose of this project is strictly for research and advocacy.
Disability can affect anyone at any time regardless of age, gender, culture, ethnicity or social class. Every human being can experience a decrease in health and thereby experience some degree of disability. Disability therefore does not become something that only happens to a few people in the world but rather is recognized as a universal human experience.
Society’s negative perception and stigmatization on persons with disabilities will never end until somebody stops it, and that is what the founder together with his friends are committed to doing. It is about time inclusion becomes a comprehensive, systematic consultation service that assists businesses and organizations to look at all aspects of their work to consider how they welcome people who have disabilities as customers, co-workers, community participants and/or research subjects.
Inclusive society often begins with a review of basic physical access features but usually broadens its focus to address policies, procedures and practices that make it easier for people who have disabilities to get involved. To achieve the said objective it is the first and foremost responsibility of the disabled themselves to get the disabled community fully acquainted with the training, education and socialization to plead and protect their rights, privileges, facilities and securities.
Since we are the best experts on our needs, we need to show the solutions we want, need to be in charge of our lives, think and speak for ourselves – just as everybody else. To this end we must support and learn from each other, organize ourselves and work for political changes that lead to the legal protection of our human and civil rights.
As long as we regard our disabilities as tragedies, we will be pitied.
As long as we feel ashamed of whom we are, our lives will be regarded as useless.
As long as we remain silent, we will be told by others what to do.
We wish that your support is with us.
If you have any questions about the Portraits of Ability research project or the mission of the Disability Needs Foundation, please do not hesitate to contact me with questions.