Language shapes the way we view the world. The words we use influences community attitudes – both positively and negatively – and impacts on the lives of others.
How we write and speak about people with disability can have a profound effect on the way they are viewed by the community and themselves. Some words, by their very nature, degrade and diminish people with disability. Other words perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes.
Cindy (*not her real name) is a young girl aged 13 years of garden compound in Lusaka with a disability. She has speech impairment and can’t walk properly. This little girl was sexually abused by her own father, who took advantage of her disability. The father was doing this for ritual purposes in order to boost his business. He started abusing this little girl since the age of five. Since the girl could not talk, all she did was cry but her family mistook the crying to be as a result of her disability. Read More
Talakwanji (*not real name) is a twenty five years old female with a disability, which she acquired at the age of four. She started using a wheelchair in the year 2007 when she was fourteen years old. In 2012 while she was in grade eleven, she lost her mother (who really fought hard for her to acquire some education). Growing up, Talakwanji always dreamt of becoming a medical doctor. Read More
Grace is a girl with a disability who could not talk or walk properly. She stays in Chibombo district. Her mother died in 2000 when she was just eleven years old. Before the death of her mother, all was well. The mother understood her child’s condition and was proud of her existence. She could take her out for leisure, buy her things and did everything possible that made her daughter very happy. As the saying goes, “no situation is permanent.” Immediately her mother died, the cruelty of the world downed on her. Read More
Persons with Disabilities have largely been unrecognized as a population for public health attention. They have systematically experienced the economic and social disadvantages of poverty and discrimination, and face great obstacles to optimal health. These experiences of disadvantage, discrimination, and difficulties in accessing health care and health promotion services contribute to unhealthier lifestyle behaviors and poorer mental health, creating a cycle of more chronic conditions, poorer health and increasing functional limitations.
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights in 2009 stated that:
“A basic principle of human rights is that the agreed norms apply to every human being. However, the international human rights norms have been denied to persons with disabilities. It was this failure which prompted member states of the United Nations to adopt the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which emphasizes that people with all types of disabilities are entitled to the full range of human rights on an equal basis with others. The aim is to promote their inclusion and full participation in society. When we deprive some individuals of their rights to represent themselves we contradict these standards”.