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We need more inclusion for people with disabilities

29 February Feb 2016 1339 29 February 2016
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Over one billion people in the world live with disabilities. According to a recent report, for 1/7 of our global population, inclusion in society is made more difficult by physical barriers such as inaccesible buildings, and mental barriers of stigma and discrimination. Promoting a psychosocial approach to inclusion through empowerment might be the solution.

According to a recent report, people with disabilities are amongst the most marginalised, especially in low resource settings.

Despite the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) being adopted in May 2008, which states that all persons with all types of impairments must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms, disability foundations are calling for more inclusion for people with disabilities world wide.

Disabled people are faced with many barriers to participation in society. Physical barriers like poor lighting in public spaces, or limited information communication can present significant problems. Attitudinal barriers of ignorance and prejudice often leads to isolation and depression. Depression itself is the leading cause of disability worldwide, with over 350 million people affected.

The psychosocial approach to empowerment

Leading disability foundations including the Red Cross and Light for the World have come together to create "Different. Just like you": a handbook of best practices for tackling these barriers. The psychosocial approach to empowerment facilitates resilience within individuals, families and communities.

"By respecting the independence, dignity and coping mechanisms of individuals and communities, psychosocial support helps to restore social cohesion and infrastructure" says the report.

Empowerment focuses on strengthening. Individuals, organizations and communities are encouraged to ‘get a grip’ of their own situations and surroundings. By seeking to participate and acquiring control, persons with disabilities are not seen as helpless victims. Instead, they are recognized for both their vulnerable and resourceful sides. The focus of empowerment is therefore on health, wellbeing, power and environmental influences, and not on problems.

In practical terms, the psychosocial approach covers a broad range of activities. From inclusive sports programs, to gardening projects for the blind like the one organised by Dutch organization Bartiméus, the approach aims to foster well-being, empowerment, and inclusion.

The handbook contains practical guidance on how to plan and implement activities, as well as background material on key concepts and the legal framework in relation to psychosocial support and inclusion.

To read the full report, click here

Photo credits: Getty Images

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