Disability is any deficiency in the physical, mental or sensory abilities of the individual, and it takes many forms, such as mental, hearing or visual or physical impairment. Last week the Kuwait Society for Human Rights carried out a humanitarian activity on the occasion of the International Day of Disabled Persons, which falls on Dec 3 every year. The event included sitting in a wheelchair and touring the venue to experience firsthand the suffering of people with disabilities and live their reality and the difficulties they face.
The importance of this activity is that it sends clear and targeted messages about the role of the community and its members towards people with disabilities that force to them to use wheelchairs, and that they are no less or different.
I agree with these campaigns because I believe that in Kuwait people who use wheelchairs suffer a lot, whether due to disabilities or old age, especially when moving from one place to another, as not all places are equipped with wheelchair ramps. Worse, some healthy people use the parking spaces for disabled people, or ATM machines in some local banks that are allocated for people on wheelchairs.
Another form of suffering for people with disabilities is a lack of signs and walkways for pedestrians. I don’t know of any street people with wheelchairs can use safely, except a few places near the beaches. I am often surprised to find emergency exits do not have a ramp for people on wheelchairs, as most of these exits only have stairs. I wonder how those people can get out in case of fire or necessity.
In April, the Kuwait Society for Disabled Persons organized a seminar on wheelchairs to highlight the problems experienced by a large number of people with motor disabilities – the lack of suitable wheelchairs for them. The participants pleaded for a new wheelchair every year. So, not only the problems of people with disabilities here is the difficulty in mobility, but even the possibility of obtaining a new wheelchair every year is difficult, and I hope that this problem is resolved once and for all.
The chairman of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights said persons with disabilities face obstacles that may seem very easy and simple to others, but constitute a barrier that may lead to isolation and a desire to not go to public places to avoid these difficulties, which is psychological suffering for them. I really believe that we need an activity like this every month throughout the year to remind healthy people that people with disabilities are no less or different and we need to support them, because anyone can become disabled at any time for any reason.
By Muna Al-Fuzai