Physically challenged should be integrated into social activities

TEHRAN, Nov. 23 (MNA) – An official of ICRC has said the mentality among the public has contributed much to the disability of physically challenged people, the attitude that excludes these individuals from daily life.

Mr. Claude Tardif is currently the PRP Adviser for the humanitarian Impact Bond Project and member of the Board and Executive Committee of the ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled. Mr. Tardif was in Tehran to contribute to the Consultative meeting on Disability Conclusion, held jointly by the ICRC and the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), November 13-14 2016. In an interview with Mojgan Mohammad, he discussed the possibilities of improvements to the life of the physically challenged people through measures the Special Fund for the Disabled devises for the member states:

This is not your first visit to Iran. We know that there is ongoing discussion with the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) on different issues, such as physical rehabilitation and “disability inclusion.” Could tell us about this project?

Since 2008, the ICRC and IRCS have an agreement to collaborate in the field of physical rehabilitation. The latest agreement was signed in 2015 with its overall objective being achievement of common humanitarian goals in the field of physical rehabilitation worldwide, through a closer collaboration between the IRCS and the ICRC. The aim is to promote inclusion and full participation of persons with physical disabilities in the society.

In addition to this, the ICRC and IRCS have worked, along with other National Societies and the IFRC, to develop the Movement-wide Strategic Framework on Disability Inclusion. Along the road to the adoption of the Strategic Framework; which was done in December 2015 Council of Delegates, two international meetings were organized in Tehran attended by representatives from several RC/RC National Societies from around the world, as well as the IFRC and the ICRC representatives.  These meetings were critical catalysts to build momentum for the development, endorsement and adoption of the Movement-wide Strategic Framework on Disability Inclusion, endorsed by the Council of Delegates in December 2015.

It seems that the project needs to be observed from another point of view apart from the medical. How the Red Cross-Red Crescent movement contributes to this project? What has been done in order to raise awareness about this problem, which seems to be a global challenge for the states and societies?

For many years, disability have been seen from a medical understanding in which it is assumed to be caused solely by a disease or injury, and the remedy for which, if any, is medical treatment. Through advocacy by the global disability rights movement, the concept of disability has been expanded to the recognition that disability is not inherent to the individual – and his or her biological condition – but is the result of the interaction between the person with impairment and enabling or disabling characteristics of his or her socioeconomic environment. This is known as the ‘social model’, in which people are viewed as being physically challenged by society rather than by their impairments. Disability arises from the interaction between a person with a health condition and his/her environment.

People with disability face widespread barriers in accessing services (health, education, employment, transportation as well as information). These include inadequate policies and standards, negative attitudes, lack of service provision, inadequate funding, lack of accessibility, inadequate information and communication and lack of participation in decisions that directly affect their lives. Many of the barriers physically challenged people face can be avoided and the disadvantage associated with disability can be overcome. The Movement has an important role and responsibility in seeking to address and reduce these barriers, influence decision-makers, address preventable impairments and empower physically challenged persons to meet their daily challenges and participate fully in their community.

The entry into force in May 2008 of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) marked the beginning of a new era in the efforts to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all physically challenged persons and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.” This human rights-based approach, which is based on the social model of disability and contends that inequities faced by persons with disabilities can only be overcome if society becomes inclusive; is critical to understand the Movement’s actions in this area.

In line with its Fundamental Principles and humanitarian values, the Movement strives for an inclusive society for all; a society in which physically challenged persons can participate fully and achieve their full potential. A disability inclusive society is pursued through removing barriers (physical, information and communication, policy and legal, institutional, attitudinal, and economic) and including physically challenged persons. The goal of the Movement-wide Strategic Framework on Disability Inclusion is that all components of the Movement aim to be inclusive organizations, to build their own capacities, to mobilize resources and to involve and support physically challenged persons and their caregivers in order to address barriers hampering their full enjoyment of their rights and freedoms.

How the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the IRCS, in specific, are cooperating on this project?

Within the overall objective of our collaboration agreement; which mentions “promoting inclusion and full participation of persons with physical disability in the society”, the ICRC is supporting the IRCS in its efforts to develop approaches required to become a disability-inclusive organization, in line with the Movement-wide Strategic Framework on Disability Inclusion.

What are the standards for a city in which people with disability would have equal access to all facilities and opportunities as the other members of the society? What specific developments are required? Could you give some concrete examples?

In its broadest sense, accessibility is generally understood as the possibility to access something, somewhere. For people with disability, the concept also implies access to active participation in community life. Community life usually takes place in a physical environment. Therefore, inaccessible objects and buildings remain the main obstacles for the participation of people with disability in community life. Such obstacles can lead to their marginalization and exclusion. Physical access is actually related to the condition of the structures to be designed in such a way that all persons can, autonomously and safely, approach, enter, pass to and from, and make use of their area and facilities without undue difficulties.

The CRPD specifically addresses the issue of accessibility of infrastructures. By virtue of its Article 9, State Parties are required to “take appropriate measures to ensure the access of physically challenged persons, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, houses, medical facilities and workplaces. Concrete examples included physically challenged parking spaces available near the building entrance and clearly marked; doorways wide enough for a wheelchair user; slopped sidewalk; accessible public transportation; accessible toilets with grab bars and enough turning space for wheelchair.

Interview by: Mojgan Mohammad

News Code 121398

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