Arrogance and hope are the meaning of wheelchair
Author Mugambi Paul
“Opinions expressed are my own”
This is the 12th year of celebrating the international wheelchair day in the globe. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 19 there won’t be any major activities for awareness creation. day was first launched in 2008., the rank of International Wheelchair
Day remains as significant as ever as it sets a reminder and opportunity for wheelchair users to celebrate the positive impact wheelchairs have on them
The growing trend of the celebration and the acknowledgement of this day continues to receive attention in a global scale. The aim of the commemoration
reflects the effort and great achievement of millions of people who either provide accessibility to wheelchairs or for those who support and care for all
wheelchair users themselves.
Will all the wheelchair users post at list a photo on their social media handles?
Several research studies affirm that in low-income countries owning a wheelchair is a luxury for many, since most can’t afford due to high cost and when offered through charity wheelchairs are normally of low quality or even cause mor harm and additionally aid to secondary impairment, the so-called deformity.
In other words, many wheelchair users in less resourced settings receive wheelchairs without the appropriate related service. As a result, users often receive wheelchairs
that are inappropriate for their needs, ill-fitting and provided without training on how to safely and effectively use their wheelchair.
On the other hand, most wheelchairs in LMICs are donor-funded with delivery models ranging from organizations distributing refurbished wheelchairs with limited services to
mass distribution campaigns to organizations providing quality appropriate wheelchairs with services that meet WHO Guidelines.
As a public policy scholar, I observe most of the low-income countries when making references of persons with disabilities most policy makers are quick to point at persons with physical impairment and in their ablism language refer to “physical challenge” not forgetting that other persons with disabilities do exist.
In other words, the literature and practice available in government and private sectors documentations are highly not inclusive of other impairments.
Historically in the African culture when one sees a person on a wheelchair most deenently claims arise that this person might be cursed or has undergone some rituals. Could this be one of the reasons why many persons with disabilties are not visible in the community gatherings?
For example, it is a taboo to be associated with a disability. Last month during the burial of a long-term serving public personality and business man in Kenya, in his last moment they recognized the importance of the wheelchair when the individual was using during the sickness period on live TV broadcast.
For many observers and listeners this was just a mere passing concern but as a diversity and inclusion specialist I so something deeper.
Imagine if he was alive and we evidently so the usage of the wheelchair this would have contributed to the great impact of change of narrative and also encouraged many more to ensure access of built environments.
I call it attitudinal barrier to be precise.
Most importantly in Kenya the 2 top most coveted seats of the semi-autonomous government agency anchorage of disability are held by 2 wheelchair users.
Will the two sharifs in town ensure at list the NCPWD offices are at list accessible?
Will the two sharis in town ensure reduction of disjointed or defragmented procurement processes of wheelchairs In Kenya?
Will their tenure ensure disability inclusivity?
We need to see more of other impairments so us not to live any one behind.
As the clarion call in the SDGS, global commitments and vision 2030, African vision 2063 etc.
Who are wheelchair users?
Wheelchairs are one of the most commonly used assistive devices; WHO estimates that 1% of the population, approximately 75 million people globally, require
a wheelchair.3 Those needing wheelchairs are those with mobility limitations and may include people born with congenital abnormalities, people with developmental
and neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, people with a spinal cord injury, people with musculoskeletal conditions such
as lower limb amputation, people living with physical impairment which can be a result of polio or non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes or
stroke, and older people with gradual functional decline.
All in all, I believe the two sharifs in town, from their own lived experience they are aware of the societal attitudes towards wheelchair users where they are classified as arrogant individuals.
The society doesn’t realize it’s the disablement experienced and discrimination which has actually made this possible!
When a wheelchair user is dropped by a public vehicle at the wrong place without consent what does the society expect?
When teachers’ employers bully persons with disabilities what do we expect?
I recommend everyone to buy this book from a lived experience and how to cope with lie.
I have personally reviewed it before publishing.
Navigating the rocky terrain of disability is stressful, to say the least. The journey is even more stressful when you acquire disability later in life through accident or illness. It takes a toll on your psychological and social wellness and if not well navigated it can lead to depression and eventual painful slow death.
This experience-based disability handbook is a guide through that journey. The author is a quadriplegic following a gunshot injury sustained on his spine’s cervical vertebrae 4. The injury, sustained in 2011 left him paralyzed from the shoulders downward.
In this handbook, he shares his experiences which he has compiled into the top 23 toughest obstacles he has encountered along his journey, and the journeys of others he has interacted with along the way. He also shares his experience-based tips on conquering the obstacles.
Through this handbook, he aims to help the disabled, especially those with newly acquired disabilities in their journeys towards healing and acceptance. He also aims to enlighten their families, friends and the general society on their plights, needs and treatment.
The handbook is a must read for not only persons with disabilities but also their families, friends and the society in general. Grab your copy today.
For this and much more join me the disability sausage YouTube channel and rediscover what it means to be a wheel chair user!
The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.
Australian Chief Minister Award winner
“excellence of making inclusion happen”