On Technology

Last year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities focused on the role of technology in (1) disaster risk reduction and emergency responses, (2) creating enabling working environments, and (3) disability-inclusive sustainable development goals. Persons with disabilities (PWDs) can benefit from it, the secretary general of the United Nations believed, only that ‘too many lack access to these essential tools.’

The special rapporteur on the rights of PWDs and the special envoy of the secretary-general on Disability and Accessibility even congratulated the organization’s member states ‘for promising advances in a post-2015 development agenda which is sustainable, inclusive and accessible.’ The 151 member states have been ensuring the realization of Article 11 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as well as the commitment of the special representative of the secretary-general on Disaster Risk Reduction; Japan; and the Nippon Foundation.

There really is no doubt that adaptive, assistive and inclusive technology can let PWDs ‘make the most of their potential in their communities and in the workplace.’ All of them can increase, maintain, and improve the functional capabilities of PWDs.

But 80% of the PWDs are in third-world countries. They have not much money to spend for food, more so for an electronic device that could help them do the most basic of things. Nothing else could alleviate this fact except for more understanding on climate change and special education for all.

PWDs have a higher prevalence of mortality during disaster situations—up to 2 to 4 times—compared to non-PWDs ‘due to inaccessible evacuation, response (including shelters, camps, and food distribution), and recovery efforts.’ Simply using mass transit, reusing a grocery sack, eating nutritiously, and unplugging electronic devices that are not in use can assuage the impacts of climate change.

Prevention is better than cure, too. And there’s no other way through it but an increased awareness only special education to everybody could bring. Each of the illness leading to disability has been caused by a factor or two. It would be wise to understand why it has been so. Moreover, all of us either are or will become disabled during the course of our lives. How technology can be accessed affordably should be thought of as well as how to solve climate change and how to provide special education to all.

“On this day in which we remind ourselves of the situation of persons with disabilities around the globe, it is important, first of all, to resist the temptation to think in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Instead we must remind ourselves that disability is part of the human condition: all of us either are or will become disabled to one degree or another during the course of our lives.” ~WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan’s message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2014 (IDPD, 2014)

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