Persons with disabilities, including visually impaired, often face barriers to participation in all aspects of society. The result is that they do not have equal access to society or services, including education, employment, health care, transportation, political participation or justice. Evidence and experience shows that when barriers to their inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, their entire community benefits. Barriers faced by persons with disabilities are, therefore, a detriment to society as a whole, and accessibility is necessary to achieve progress and development for all.
Lacking access to education, employment and medical facilities, the disabled people are dependent upon their families and are considered a burden on society by their communities.
In Bangladesh, most of the visually impaired persons are unemployed. A limited number of visually impaired persons are working in different fields.
There is job quota provision for the persons with disabilities in government sector, but implementation is very slow.
The visually impaired persons are facing following problems:
* Lack of appropriate training.
* Job quota is not being implemented properly.
* Poverty is the major problem and barrier of our country. Most of the visually impaired persons are born in poor family.
* Negative attitude by general people.
* Employment due to medical fitness barrier.
The visually impaired persons who are studying in college or university are facing various problems like -
Lack of educational materials
Lack of library facility
Lack of Braille Text Books
Braille Typing Equipment
Proper health support
Lack of recreation and playing materials
Lack of transport facility.
Most cases of blindness are treatable or avoidable, however, in Bangladesh many people do not receive eye care due to barriers in accessing eye health services.
Blindness in Bangladesh is more prevalent among women, the elderly, the illiterate and the poor.
Many people unnecessarily become and remain blind due to extreme poverty and lack of awareness that cataract blindness is preventable.
The majority of Bangladesh's eye care facilities are based in major cities despite the fact that over 75% of the population live in rural areas. Health services in rural areas of Bangladesh are very limited and rarely have the capacity, skills or equipment to diagnose or treat eye health issues. Therefore people living in rural areas must travel long distances to access eye care services, however many people are unaware of or unable to travel to services
Eye care facilities in Bangladesh are often unable to meet the service demand due to lack of trained eye care personnel as well as inadequate equipment and supplies.
The visually impaired blind people face a lot of troubles in the society and we should look into the matter.
Having visual power, you cannot imagine what blindness means. Not being able to drive, not being able to read anything they want to, not being able to watch movies or TV shows or computer webpages, not being able to see beauty like we do, being limited on the types of jobs they can do, isolation from people not as interested in them in social settings because they are different, not being able to see danger nearby such as a mugger hiding in the bushes, a sudden drop, big wave if you are swimming in the ocean, a nearby shark, etc. etc. Just close your eyes for a few hours and you could probably have a better idea.
The visually impaired people are part of our society and they have rights and we all should be aware of the matter. This will help build a good society based on justice, because we cannot achieve the goals of our development excluding them. We should come in their aid whenever and wherever they ask for assistance, which is the right of the visually impaired people, said Child Sight Foundation (CSF).
On December 13, 2006, the United Nations unanimously adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which then entered into force on May 3, 2008. Being one of the pioneering countries to ratify the Convention, Bangladesh is now pledge bound to implement the human rights treaty in its entirety, which will gradually pave the way for ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities in this country.
The disabled should be provided with financial assistance and vocational so that they can launch business and acquire skill for access to employment. Steps should be taken so that they get jobs at different institutions. They should be recognized mentally and socially so that they can take part in different social, religious and state functions along with normal people.
A little awareness, willingness and certain interventions combined together can change such situations. The society must also have the attitude and willingness to acknowledge the capacities of a person with disability and recognize him / her as a useful member of the society.
This positive intention must be supplemented with the opportunity of accessibility.
The primary goal of integration of children with visual impairment can be achieved only when the community participation is ensured at all levels.
Mass media should play due role to create mass awareness about the causes of blindness and other eye-related problems and highlight the rights of the disabled people for ensuring a rights-based better society.
Dr. MA Muhit, Executive Director of CSF, conducted the first national study on childhood blindness in our country. He said that Bangladesh can create a wonderful example for many developing countries that are struggling to establish the rights of children (with or without blindness and disability).
Dr. Muhit invented Key Informant Method (KIM) through his long time research and his observation found that there are 40,000 children who are the victims of childhood blindness in Bangladesh. Out of them, 12,000 children are blind due to avoidable cataract problem.
The KIM identifies prominent and respected members of local communities such as teachers and Imams to undertake a short training course in their area on how to identify blind children. These volunteer Key Informants (KI) then compile lists of visually impaired and blind children in their respective communities with support of Community Mobilisers (CM); a Regional Coordination Officer (RCO) collects and verifies the list.
The KIM method earned worldwide recognition and is now being used in 12 countries of the world regarding disability related research.
On Dec 3 every year, International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed across the world to focus on measures to support greater integration and equality for people with disabilities. It is a United Nations sanctioned day that aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being.
CSF said we should work with the children with disabilities, their families, community members, service providers, programme planners to ensure that no child in Bangladesh is disabled from potentially or treatable/remediable causes (biological and social) and all children with disabilities and their families have access to education, rehabilitation, recreation, self-help and equal participation in the society and its development.
If they have access to skill development and necessary facilities, they can also prove their worth contributing to country's development. We cannot achieve national development excluding the disabled people.
The writer is a journalist