Turning Three!

In its third year, The PWD Forum has continued advocating for the integration of special education to the basic and secondary curriculum of the schools in the Philippines.

It has done so by reporting about how “PWD-friendly” some countries are by discussing the legislations each has in governing its citizens with disabilities (Israel, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Bahamas).

It has also shared the stories of the persons with disabilities from the said countries who didn’t let their disabilities stop them (Mohamed Dalo, Jiří Ježek, Martin Kovář, Běla Hlaváčková, Petra KurkováTownsely Roberts, Gary Russell).

The PWD Forum has enumerated the organizations present in the same countries and described how each has been doing what they can for the PWDs in their midst1 2 3 4. It has listed the disabilities recognized in the world today; discussed which of these is common in Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Bahamas; and introduced a first-of-its-kind summit that happened last February 22-24, 2017.

The PWD Forum still believes in integrating special education to the basic and secondary curriculum of the schools in the Philippines. It would help the country’s economy if almost all of its citizens are skilled and qualified to meet the labor demands of globalization. And since its population is ageing, everyone is very much needed on the labor market. PWDs should then be given chances to contribute to its welfare.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, from prekindergarten to elementary and secondary, to special education, to technical and higher education and beyond.” ~ Jim Jeffords

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Lei Pico

1Those in Israel: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/help-in-israel/

2Those in Netherlands: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2016/10/28/help-in-netherlands/

3Those in Czech Republic: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/help-in-czech-republic/

4Those in Bahamas: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/help-in-bahamas/

5http://www.tribune242.com/news/2015/dec/02/why-its-so-important-end-disability-discrimination/

PWD Complaints

In the Philippines, persons with disability can only avail of one discount scheme: the promo discount or the discount mandated by the Republic Act 9442.

“There is also another law that exempt PWD discount from value added tax, which is Republic Act 10754,” explained Carmen Reyes Zubiaga, acting executive director of the National Council on Disability Affairs, in an email.

“Value added [tax] is only 12%. The computation should be as follows—VAT inclusive Retail Price less 12% VAT and less 20% discount,” she added.

This goes without saying that if a good or service has already excluded the value-added tax from the cost, a PWD can still avail of the promo discount and/or the PWD discount provided that the price of goods or service in promo is entitled to the value added tax.

“For the availment of discount instead of promo, you have to ask the regular price of the procedure. However, you also have to check if the discounted price [already] includes VAT (if the product is VATable). Also, look for proof that the product is discounted (public announcement, fliers, approval of DTI and other approving entities).”

For further inquiries about the discounts and privileges of PWDs in the Philippines, Dir. Zubiaga advised to visit the NCDA.

“The worst thing about a disability is that people see it before they see you.” ~ Easter Seals

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Julia Davila

 

Paralysis in Bahamas

Lack of mobility due to paralysis or dismemberment of 21% Bahamian males and 25% Bahamian females has been the most common form of disability in the Bahamas (2010, Department of Statistics). In the United States, about 5.4 million are with it.

Paralysis is the loss of muscle function of the body brought about by stroke, spinal cord injury, and multiple sclerosis. It has no cure but it can be addressed to. There are wheelchairs designed for people with good upper body muscle strength (manual type) and for those with poor upper body muscle strength (electric type).

If it is a limb that has to be improved, however, orthoses are the alternative. They are actually braces, usually made of plastic or metal, that are either designed to transfer force from a functioning wrist to paralyzed fingers (wrist-hand orthoses), to help people with lower limb function move their feet while walking (ankle-foot orthoses), and to stabilize the knee and ankle of people with tetraplegia (knee-ankle-feet orthoses).

Other technologies include the epidural spine stimulation, which can restore movement; brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), which can which link the brain to a computer or an external device, such as a prosthetic limb; and exoskeletons, which can fit onto a person’s head like a swimming cap so that the changes emanating from the brain can be measured in electrical waves.

“Worrying paralyzes progress; prayer, preparation and persistence ensures it.”  ― T.F. Hodge

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Doctors’ Circle

Help in Bahamas

Dotting the archipelagic state of The Bahamas are eight organizations caring for persons with disabilities: the Disabled Persons’ Organizations, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Bahamas Down Syndrome Association, Bahamas Alliance for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Northern Bahamas Council for the Disabled, Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled, and Eyes wide Open.

The oldest is the DPO. It was founded in 1981 that advocates for the rights and equality of PWDs, and provides support and services where possible.

The youngest is the Department of Social Services Disability Affairs and Senior Citizens Division. It was instituted last year to provide opportunities for empowerment, as well as ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities.

In between are the Bahamas Alliance for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which supports and assists persons who are blind and visually impaired; the Bahamas Down Syndrome Association, which intends to change the mentality of the society regarding children with Down syndrome and educate those who do not have it; and the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, which carries out the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities Act.

After it was formally constituted and appointed in December 2014, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities has gone on amending the Road Traffic Act and Housing Act; initiating awareness; exploring policies and initiatives; addressing discrimination; and registering PWDs as well as the organizations for them in the Bahamas.

Other organizations for the PWDs in the Bahamas are the Northern Bahamas Council for the Disabled, the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled, and the Eyes wide Open.

“Every person with a disability — whether they have physical impairments, development or learning impairments, sensory or visual, hearing and speech impairments — every one, has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Every person with a disability has the right to be included and participate in society. Every person with a disability has the right to full protection under the law, and the right to equal access and opportunities to health care, education, employment and transportation.” ~ Melanie Griffin

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ZNSNetwork

Townsely Roberts & Gary Russell

The Bahamas has two citizens one may not consider persons with disabilities: Townsely Roberts and Gary Russell.

Roberts is an accountant. He graduated from The College of the Bahamas in 1995 with an associate degree in Accounting and Computer Data Processing before getting employed by the company that owns Wendy’s and Marco’s Pizza for the next 20 years as an accountant manager.

His greatest benefit was the support of his mother and teachers. Her mother who just listened when the doctor told her that Roberts had to have his left leg above the knee amputated (a peanut butter and jelly jar had been thrown at the back of Roberts’ knee when he was five) and his teachers who refused to just let him sit in a corner while his classmates learn playing basketball, softball, and soccer.

Today, the former president of the Bahamas National Council for Disability (BNCD) is focused on helping other PWDs have employment in the country. He is one of those who believed that the Bahamian public must be educated “on the realities of what disability is.”

Russel is the current chairman of The Music Makers Junkanoo Group and the senior examiner of the Bahamas Compliance Commission. Right after his bones were fractured in a severe car accident when he was 23, Russell went back to his previous job in Marketing and Sales. He even became its acting general manager until the company closed. He pursued Law at The College of the Bahamas after that with an associate degree in Law and Criminal Justice then his bachelor’s and master’s at the University of Buckingham.

Prior to that, Russell worked as a chef from 1979 to 1986 and a sales marketer from 1986 to 1997. He got support from people “willing to accommodate him” all throughout then. He was taught to bathe himself, dress himself, cook for himself, climb in a cupboard, and drive.

Only the thought of not being to change quickly into a basketball gear as soon as he gets off from work tormented Russell. Still, he was able to participate at the Jackson Rehabilitation Centre in Miami. He is giving back to the culture of the Bahamas these days through the arts of Junkanoo, a Bahamian style of dance music that evolved from the traditional music of West Africa.

“It’s okay to fall. You got to learn how to fall. When you fail is how you learn, even the disabled.” ~Townsely Roberts

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ZNS Network

Bahamas

After it has signed in the UN Convention on PWDs, the Bahamas promulgated the Equal Opportunities Act last November 3, 2014 and January 1, 2016.

Provisions were put into effect during the first implementation phase so that PWDs can obtain medical assistance; access training, counselling, and family services; apply for insurance, credit and lending services; and vote. Television stations were asked to provide sign language insets, closed captioning or sub-titles in all newscasts, educational programs, public notices, national emergencies and national events coverage.

In the second phase, fair treatment was reassured so that PWDs can be on a level pegging with the non-PWDs. Employers with more than 100 employees were mandated to employ at least 1% PWDs. Owners of public buildings were directed to allow free access to PWDs. Items donated to institutions and organizations of or for PWDs were eased off of customs duties and other taxes. The Minister of Finance was authorized to grant incentives to local enterprises that manufacture assistive or adaptive devices for use by PWDs.

Public telephone services were adjusted for the hearing and visually impaired. The Supreme Court Rules Committee was empowered to exempt PWDs from paying filing fees and provide assisted services to enable a PWD’s participation before the Court.

In December 2014, The Bahamas also established the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities comprised of 15 commissioners from the community of persons with disabilities themselves. It was to (1) ensure that the provisions of our Act are carried out and (2) monitor, evaluate and ensure the country’s compliance with the International Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities. The Bahamas has also marked October as the National Disability Employment Awareness month, awarding families of PWDs a disability allowance.

As of 2010, there are 5,250 male PWDs and 4,888 female PWDs in The Bahamas. Only one per cent of those 10,138 PWDs, though, are registered with the Department of Social Services.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ZNSNetwork

HIV, CF, CMT, and HD in CR

The presence of organizations in the Czech Republic that cares for its citizens with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cystic fibrosis (CF), Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), and Huntington’s Disease (HD) could only mean that the mentioned diseases are prevalent there and, therefore, should be controlled.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system. Without it, our bodies would have trouble fighting off diseases. It could lead to dementia, anxiety and depression, and seizure, among others.

As such, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation donated $140 million dollars to search for its cure. It would be similar to a pump in the form of an implant.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disorder that can damage the cells in the body that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices. It can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, musculoskeletal system, genitourinary system, and the reproductive system. The disease is caused by a defect in a single gene, which scientists refer to as CFTR.

Recently, though, researchers at the Case Western Reserve University have found a way to replace the gene that causes CF with a new imaging technique.

It is called the tri-modal imaging device that consists of an x-ray, the first modality that can tell about the structure; and the gamma emission and the optical, the other two modalities that can both give information function.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) is caused by mutations in genes that produce proteins involved in the structure and function of either the peripheral nerve axon or the myelin sheath. Once it degenerates, the motor nerves could result in muscle weakness and atrophy in the extremities (arms, legs, hands, or feet) while the sensory nerves could bring about a reduced ability to feel heat, cold, and pain.

Last October 24, 2016, though, scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Stanford University reported that they have designed small compounds with a potential to correct the mitochondrial dysfunction in CMT. “This mitochondrial protein has never been targeted before,” the senior author Gerald W. Dorn II, MD, the Philip and Sima K. Needleman Professor of Medicine was quoted saying in a report.

A progressive brain disorder, Huntington’s Disease causes uncontrolled movements, emotional problems, and loss of thinking ability (cognition). It usually happens in a person’s thirties or forties (adult-onset Huntington disease) or during childhood or adolescence (juvenile Huntington’s disease) and affects an individual’s walking, speaking, and swallowing.

Fortunately, an electric wheelchair was invented by Dr. Yodchanan Wongsawat from the Center for Biomedical and Robotics Technology Faculty of Engineering at Mahidol University in Thailand. It has an automated navigation system that can adapt on whether the hands of the user are still functional. If it is, a patient could use their hands. If it is not, the modes can be operated by one’s chin or eye.

The wheelchair can also detect obstacles on the floor with its Rotating Laser Scanner, map location with its Laser Scanner, describe commands with its 7’’ LCD screen, and acquire data with its Mini-PC.

Another device, the Eye Gaze System, can generate speech by simply looking at control keys or cells displayed on a screen. It could empower people with Huntington’s disease—particularly those in later stage—since they usually have poor muscle coordination, mental decline, and behavioral symptoms.

“Congress acknowledged that society’s accumulated myths and fears about disability and disease are as handicapping as the physical limitations that flow from actual impairment.” ~William J. Brennan, Jr.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the AP Archive