Cape Town – The Free World Initiative says people living with disability are still marginalised by society, particularly in the workplace.
This comes after the two-day summit on the economic empowerment of persons with disabilities on the West Rand that aims to tackle the issues facing people living with disability in South Africa.
Speaking to the SABC, Free World Initiative founder and CEO Lebogang Mudau, said the problem started when couples were advised to terminate a pregnancy when it was found a child could have a disability.
“In society we are not raised to consider people with a disability as somebody who is a normal being, and that is something we need to challenge in South Africa,” Mudau said.
She believes society still needs an educational and work system that will strongly hold the principle of maintaining good treatment of people living with disabilities.
She highlighted that the terminology and the language used to describe disabled people can be a very powerful weapon to empower and restore the human rights and dignity of the community.
“The first thing when we want to stop discrimination is to remove ‘they’ and ‘us’, and I think that’s the first factor if we consider that 7.5% in South Africa do expect some form of a differently able body and 3.5% being female, that is very important in the fact that we as women are once again experiencing something that will lead us to more discrimination.
“We find 6.5% being male and 11% of the people from the age of five having some sort of difficulty… Most of them are having hearing disabilities, and hearing communication disabilities,” she said.
Mudau said the disabled community is currently approached as less capable in particular jobs, and that their active participation in the economy creates barriers
“I think we should highlight that there has been a grater challenge and we do not have enough interpreters in terms of sign languages to accommodate people who are struggling with communication in workplaces,” Mudau said.
“We do not have enough braille that is written out in terms of the workplace information, and all the books we are using have not been translated into braille. And with that we have discriminated towards them,” she said.