Basic human rights and fundamental freedoms have generated much discussion among scholars and ordinary citizens in recent times. With the quick development of technologies and access to information, people became more concerned with this issue; thus, they pay more attention to the formation of strong opinions. Nevertheless, there are certain units of society which are more accessible to the social changes and require special consideration. Disabled people are among such types of citizens, and their rights and freedoms can be seenin the minds of the majority. Unfortunately, some people do not realize the full scope of the problem of underestimation. One should understand that collecting significant knowledge about the disabled community can help non-disabled people to become aware of disability to the full extent. Therefore, they can observe the issue of the spreading discrimination against the disabled and think over their attitude.
Before all else, it is significant to mention that the needs of modern people are indeed most varied. By the recent data, roughly 20 percent of the world’s population is disabled (Smith). Naturally, these people sometimes experience hardships with basic daily routine. Such inconveniences often occur because of the community’s disregard for the needs of the disabled. It is a well-known fact that discrimination against disabled people is most spread since they are usually deprived of the equal human rights. Due to such reasons, people with disabilities cannot participate in social life on the same basis; namely, the employment, education, cultural, legal, business activities, and many others.
Education and Employment for the Disabled
Fortunately, in the recent years, much attention was paid to the issue of the rights concerning disability. To be more specific, the revolution change was promoted by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was enforced in 2008. The latter shifted the traditional approach to the approach focusing on human rights. An interesting matter is that the Convention does not intervene the new human rights, but it mainstreams the disability rights into the general human rights movement. For instance, one can recall the right to isolated education, which remains an open question. Indeed, the organizations for deaf people claimed that they would like schools to be separated to improve the quality of education received by the deafs due to the use of teaching aids specifically designed for them. Nonetheless, the isolated educational process seems to be inherently unequal human right. The convention stated that every child has the right to inclusive education, and includes provisions concerning deaf and blind children (Degener).
The disabled still continue to receive lower quality of education and healthcare and are generally more pessimistic about their lives and their futures. The World Health Organization reports that 90% of the disabled children in under-developed countries do not attend schools (Right to Education Initiative par. 1-3). In most cases, such children are excluded from general education systems and placed in special schools. In some cases, they are separated from their parents and left to stay in long term homes for the disabled. Besides the low enrolment levels, children with disabilities also experience high drop-out rates. They are also at risk of school bullying and violence, which prevent them from enjoying school as other students do.
The disabled children face many potential barriers to accessing quality education. Some of the barriers that have been cited against school attendance by disabled children include accessibility issues, separation from the mainstream education systems, discrimination and prejudice and inferior quality of education. Moreover, those with disabilities face other additional challenges in accessing transportation means to schools. They are therefore more likely to attain lower education levels resulting in lack of employment and are subsequently three times more likely to dwell in poverty compared to those with full functionality (Blanck and Others 326). Various human rights organizations have come out to push for equal rights for the disabled children as for the normal. The right to respect and protection is advocated for as fundamental to the well-being of the disabled children and even adults.
The rights notwithstanding, disabled people need to feel valued and trusted to deliver the most desirable outcomes in all contexts. As much as having inclusive education would show the disabled that they matter, sometimes the inclusion can have a negative impact on the learning process, where their disabilities limit them from performing certain activities. Blanck, Adya, Myhill, Samant and Chen (324) also discussed some of the aspects of treatment associated with the disabled. The thesis of the study by Blanck and others is that most of the past studies on the disabled rights focus on the supply side of human resources with regards to employment. This implies that there is a lot of emphasis on the personal limitations and personal characteristics as predictors of employment and income. Contrariwise, there should be a focus on the social context while formulating frameworks for the consideration of the disabled in social roles. The social context, the employment environment, interactions between the demand and supply of employment, corporate culture and civil rights stipulations all affect the capacity of employers to take on disabled employees.
The employment environment still poses significant challenges to the disabled. Hirschmann (42) addresses the concept of rights in the light of the disabled. In Hirschmann’s article, human rights discussions involving the rights of the disabled have been a subject of discussion, extending beyond the conventional discourse on rights. Misunderstandings in the presentation of human rights for the disabled have resulted in the perception of human rights as part of justice system or a reform initiative for the disabled. For this reason, inadequate implementation of such rights in different contexts result in unforeseen consequences such as presumptions concerning how the discourse on human rights for the disabled could be used alongside the Americans with Disabilities Act (Hirschmann 43). This is because such stipulations are often perceived in the context of welfare reform rather than as conventional human rights.
Through the advocacy of various human rights organizations across the world, governments have made stipulations for their laws to carter for the needs of the disabled in the community. For instance, the Canadian constitution under section 15 advocates for the rights of five specific target groups of people, one of which is the disabled. Through the charter, it has been possible to push for the rights of the disabled in Canada. The charter itself supersedes any decision making tool that may be applied by the government or any of its agents and is enforceable in any court of law unlike other human rights regulations that can be enforced through various government arms. McColl, Bond, Shannon and Shorrt (184- 185) reported that the charter holds an instrumental position in the guarantee of minority rights alongside the provincial and federal codes for human rights. The disabled rights charter is lauded as a powerful legal tool against the struggled passed through by the disabled. In other countries, similar laws have been enacted but enforcement differs from one country to the other.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was initiated in 1990 to help improve the lives of people living with disabilities across the world. Through the act, thousands of people who would have suffered due to their disabilities currently live flourishing lives within the country. According to Blanck and others (326), various social restructuring approaches have helped to improve the well-being of the disabled. For instance, civil construction authorities came up with a guideline for disabled accessibility constructions. Through this, new buildings are becoming more accessible to the disabled.
Furthermore, another aspect of the act that has made the disabled more capable of optimum performance is its emphasis on the need for employers to seek appropriate accommodation for the employees. According to the act, employers ought to work together with the disabled employees in coming up with an appropriate accommodation for them. Through an interactive communication method, the employers get to understand the needs of the disabled and can help in advocating for support from other individuals (Blanck and Others 327). The support gained from others helps the disabled to gain access to employment, be independent from welfare programs and also own their own homes. As such, the percentage of the disabled individuals who have gained worthwhile employment has increased significantly from 1990s.
The rights to disabled pension plans were also initiated following the American Civil War. This started with the initiation of a program for the union army. The program based pension eligibility for the disabled persons on their incapacity to perform active duty. Social security entitlements were also initiated to benefit people living with disabilities alongside those living in poverty. The medical systems and social expectations have also been raised to match social expectations. However, the medical model recognizes the role of the environment in producing various disabilities, segregation and poverty. In this regard, social welfare programs and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 have resulted in the better recognition of the disabled in the social settings of the nation. Blanck and others (327) discussed the development of a civil rights framework for use with the disabled, which is founded on equal rights, empowerment, inclusion, and economic independence. Such a framework can be used to foster access to education, employment, better housing and equality, in combination with ADA.
The disability rights in a nation are essential because they protect the disabled. However, it becomes difficult for able individuals to abide by the laws established on disabled people. For instance, a person in a wheelchair has equal rights of employment in an office as any other person despite their qualifications. However, in an interview that has both able and disables interviewee, the chances of a capableperson to be considered are higher than the disabled. Not most individuals would risk on hiring a cripple, blind, or deaf person. People believe that individuals with disabilities are less productive in the employment field as compared to other employees. Employers would discriminate the disabled in trying to improve the productivity of their companies. Moreover, the lucky employed disabled people are unfavorably treated because their chances of promotion are less than 20%, unlike the other employees (Bostad, and Hanisch).
Cases of employees refusing to employ the disabled are rarely justified. However, the individual can benefit from the law that fights against victimization. For instance, a less privileged employee can file a case against his or her employer for denying him or her a promotion and offers it to a less qualified individual. The case can be justified by the court when all the necessary evidence is brought forward. This act was evidence when a lawsuit was filed against Gannett Company for firing a mentally disabled employee who was waiting for a promotion. Phoenix District Office filled the case. The employee was on medical leave and was fired without notice. Moreover, different courts have justified disabilities cases. Hence, when disabled individuals understand their rights, it is easy for them to fight for their rights.
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Bostad, Inga, and Halvor Hanisch. Freedom and disability rights: dependence, independence, and interdependence. Metaphilosophy, vol 47, no. 3, 2016, pp. 371-384. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1111/meta.12192.
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UN General Assembly, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, 24 January 2007, A/RES/61/106, http://www.refworld.org/docid/45f973632.html