Today’s word of the day is ableism. If you’ve wandered a bit in the woke circles then you’ve probably come across this word. Ableism is the discrimination of and social prejudice against people living with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require ‘fixing’ and defines people by their disability. Like racism and sexism, ableism classifies entire groups of people as ‘less than,’ and includes harmful stereotypes, misconceptions, and generalizations of people with disabilities.
It’s too often that society operates on the premise that people living with disabilities are incapable of doing things when it’s actually the environment that stifles them. Most people who are in the positions of leadership don’t even know what an accessible world means. Disabilities come in all shapes and forms, with some having more than one but all these issues are intersectional. This is because on a basic level our issues are the same. We’re often treated as second class citizens and we lack access to the world.
If we take a look at the physical structure of Zimbabwe, anyone with a physical disability is at a disadvantage. The roads are falling apart and barely good enough for cars while the pavement/sidewalk has missing blocks others cracked while the rest shake so bad you’d they’re trying to twerk. The price of fuel since 2019 has gone from a $1.40 to $110 and this has raised the costs for a lot of people living with physical disabilities to move from one place to another. So naturally the option would be to use public transport more…
But the ZUPCO buses and commuter omnibuses which are the only authorised public transport operators as it stands are not adapted for those living with disabilities. Which goes for most restaurants, government buildings and schools. Simple things such as having a receptionist capable of using sign language or menus/forms printed in braille are not there. I’ve always wondered why sign language isn’t taught in school? They’re countless skills we’re taught in school that don’t help us at all while we’re ignoring impactful skills like the ability to sign. The lack of such skills causes communication barriers which may seem minor in situations like a meal at a restaurant or a purchase at the supermarket but their effect becomes extremely harmful when one needs medical care for example.
In the political space people living with disabilities are given two token seats in the National Assembly and nothing more. We’re expected to be content and appreciative because we’re at least getting something but that’s not right at all. Fix the playing field so that everyone has the ability to contest instead of giving us points for attendance. Over the past year consultations were being held for a new disability bill that will hopefully see us aligning with the 2013 constitution but the rooms for these conversations were dominated by abled people. Which is funny because as people living with disabilities we can speak for ourselves.
The government simply doesn’t do enough. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began there’s hasn’t been national welfare project/program to assist those living with disabilities. The policies already there to assist them ard poorly implemented. People living with disabilities are not educated on what the government should do for them and no one is holding government accountable. For example PWDs are guaranteed free tuition by the government on their first degree but how many know this and how many degrees for PWDs has government actually paid for?
This has been my day 4 of the advocacy week for the Winter Afro Bloggers Challenge.