The Disability Act was passed by Parliament on 23rd June, 2006, to promote and protect the rights of persons with disability (PWDs), and to ensure their equitable and effective participation in Ghanaian society at all levels.
Since 2009, this Day, June 23 has been earmarked and commemorated annually as National Day of persons with disabilities, by the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations (GFD) and the disability movement in Ghana.
Today, 23rd June marks the tenth year of the passage of the Act and it is being commemorated under the theme “Ten years of the Disability Act 715; impact on the lives of Persons with disability”.
Persons with disability should have been jubilating over the impact of this law and positive change it has brought to society but such jubilation has turned out to be discontent and irony of comedies.
Ghana signed the United Nations Convention on the Right of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) in 2007 and ratified it and the Optional Protocol in 2012. But as it stands now, Ghana has not yet harmonized Act 715 with the UNCRPD as enjoined by article 4 (1) (b) of the UNCRPD.
Section 6 of Act 715 provides that “owner or occupier of a place to which the public has access shall provide appropriate facilities that make the place accessible to and available for use by a person with disability”.
For ten years, government has and is still constructing roads, schools, and other public facilities which are not accessible by PWDs. Examples include the George W. Bush Highway (which is a case pending in the Human Rights court in Accra), the millennium schools built in Accra, and a number of the newly constructed community day Senior High Schools across the country.
The ten-year moratorium provided under section 60 of Act 715 expires in August 2016 yet no attempt has been made by Government ministries, departments and agencies to make their facilities and services accessible and available for use by PWDs. For ten years, government has failed to develop the national accessibility standards to guide the above mentioned processes.
Data on PWDs for purposes of planning, policy development, programming, and monitoring are either unavailable or unreliable. As a result, persons with disabilities are not usually considered and catered for in national programmes and policies.
Health care services including the National Health Insurance Scheme are not fully accessible to many categories of PWDs especially for persons with hearing impairments, those with albinism, and intellectual disabilities.
Sections 9 and 10 of Act 715 make provision for the promotion of employment for PWDs. Regrettably, very little has been done to promote employment for PWDs.
The National Council on Persons with Disability which has the mandate to ensure the effective implementation of the Act has not been completely effective in its function.
On the occasion of the commemoration of the 2016 national day of PWDs, GFD calls on the government of Ghana to make conscious effort to comply with the provisions of Act 715 to effectively promote and protect the rights of persons with disability and to ensure their effective participation in society at all levels.
Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations is a national umbrella of organizations of persons with disability, established in 1987. Its mission is to advocate the promotion and protection of the rights or persons with disability by influencing legislations, policies, programmes and empowering PWDs.