Disabled still face barriers

2017-01-11 06:01

Access to structures, facilities, resources and environments is a daily challenge faced by persons with disabilities, while unemployment is at the top of every government discussion.

South African National Parks (Sanparks) has recently committed itself to tackling these two challenges in partnership with the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD).

A commitment was made towards the development of a universal design of facilities for disabled people’s work environment and access to ensure equitable access for all at Sanparks facilities.

The agreement is reported to have been reached by the NCPD, in partnership with Sanparks, when they committed to working together to broaden opportunities for placement of persons with disabilities and for universal access to public parks.

The announcement was made by the CEO of the Kruger National Park, Glenn Philips, at the launch of the Sanparks Disability Forum, held on International Disability Day.

The statement from Charity Mahla­sela from the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa (NCPPDSA) reads that Sanparks signed a pledge and agreed to create accessible facilities for their guests and employees to be able to share in the Sanparks experience.

Sanparks further pledged to offer opportunities of employment to persons with disabilities at all levels in the organisation.

“The partnership also includes an employment programme, which will be done in partnership with the NCPD to appoint persons with disabilities in Sanparks structures.”

According to the 2013-’14 14th Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) Annual Report, only 0,9% of the country’s Economically Active People (EAP) are persons with disabilities.

Sanparks is already doing well with their equity targets and looking foward to starting the developments from April, with the hope of spreading the developments throughout the country.

“Unemployment is a great challenge and we believe there is a gap that can be filled,” said Therina Wentzel, national director of the NCPD.

“Persons with disabilities with qualifications are not being employed due to work environments that are not sensitised.”

The NCPD is an organisation dedicated to advocating and facilitating inclusion, access and economic empowerment for persons with disabilities.

The organisation also influences and contributes to government policies to assist in implementing sensitisation programmes.

“Accessibility is still a massive challenge faced by persons with disabilities and it is the barrier to creating inclusive environments for all. There are still structures that are not wheelchair compatible that are meant for the public, let alone other types of disabilities,” said Wentzel.

According to Wentzel, 7,5% of South Africans (excluding children aged four and younger) are identified as persons with disabilities.

“Though they are seen as a minority group, they have rights and should be acknowledged and considered and involved in environmental plans and legislations.”

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