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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Persons with Disabilities Week: How to create a more PWD-friendly environment

The National Council of Disability Affairs (NCDA) launched yesterday at SM City Cebu the Persons with Disabilities Week.  This year's National Disability and Rehabilitation Week's theme is "Making the Rights Real for Filipinos with Disabilities. The activities are headed by the NCDA, the agency created to plan and coordinate activities concerning disability issues and concern. This year's activities include a job fair, massage demo, sportsfest, recollection, and medical mission.
I believe that our leaders should in a way create a more PWD-friendly city. Persons with disabilities are at a disadvantage should disasters come and even in normal days, accessibility is very limited for them. How can a cripple ride a jeepney? What are the jobs available for PWDs? How can we improve and promote education for PWDs? Is there some sort of discrimination towards Persons with disabilities? There are so many room for improvement and political and corporate leaders can do a lot of things to help.

Here are some areas that we can probably improve on:

1. Accessibility - We should make sure that public places are accessible to people with disabilities. It is nice that we have special parking areas for them (although some people use this area even if they aren't Pwds). We should also make sure that elevators and escalators can fit wheelchairs.  I used the elevator in Robinsons Cybergate and it is nice to see that there are Braille markings at the buttons. Fire exits should use ramps rather than stairs.  How in the world would a PWD go down 10 floors of stairs for example. There should also be away to improve how PWDs right public transportation.
2. Jobs - It is nice to see that some businessman employ people with disabilities. I was serve by a deaf-mute in Brutus Fuente and it is good to see that there are opportunities for them. Blind masseurs are also good. The government can also give tax breaks to employers of PWDs. Hopefully, these businessmen pay them the right wages.
3. Education - It is also good to know that some educational institutions offer discounts to people with disabilities. It is just right to give them opportunities to learn and improve their skills. This practice should be encouraged because who knows we have Stephen Hawking in  our midst.
4. Disaster and Emergency Preparedness- As our leaders make plans on disaster preparation, they also consider the plight of the PWDs if faced in situation like flooding, fires, typhoon, and other calamities. They have to be prepared on how rescue pwds in emergency situations. Our firemen, volunteers, ERUF staff, and Red Cross personnel should be aware and be educated on how to assist persons with disabilities. We are not only talking about first aid but also how to communicate with them.

The leaders of the Cebu and Philippines at least make an effort to make our country more PWD-friendly. The government has allocated some budget for it and hopefully the agencies like the NCDA will formulate meaningful activities and programs that will promote long-term awareness for persons with disabilities. Every person has the same rights, abled or disabled and the pwds deserve access to those rights.