Compliance With Section 60 of Act 715: A daily heartache for the disabled Ghanaian

She checked again for clarity

Indeed, she had made it to the university!

‘Grandma!’ She cried

With the excitement of a newly-wed bride

‘I’ve gained admission!’

The celebration started

At that moment, it was all that mattered

The day finally arrived for her to go to school

She felt very cool

She kissed her grandma goodbye

Promising to call and say hi

 

Campus was fine and fun

Chatting with friends under the waning sun

Until that fateful day

Call it whatever you may

When she went for a programme in town

Sitting in a car fully settled down

She was excited

The atmosphere at the venue was ignited

And then she lifted up her eyes

She beheld a sight that was not nice

She beheld a great number of steps

Wishing she could have leapt

There was no ramp

Her face started to feel damp

 

Strapped in her wheelchair

She was suddenly in despair

How was she to enter this place?

She thought, If only I had come with Grace

Who could she call?

To ensure she did not have a great fall

She knew no one

No child, woman or man

Not again! her heart cried

Internally, she felt as if she had died

She pushed back the tears

Watching some men as they drink cans of beer

The tears fell after some time

She took out her handkerchief to wipe away the slime

The mean children in my neighbourhood are right!

‘Disabled’ was indeed her name and not a plight

Ama ‘Disabled’ Donkor

Was she to the core

That seemed all she would ever be

Until the time came for her to be set free

 

 

A person with disability.

The Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) defines a person with disability to be an individual with a physical, mental or sensory impairment including a visual, hearing or speech functional disability which gives rise to physical, cultural or social barriers that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of that individual. 

What the law says on access to public places.

 Section 6 of Act 715 states that the owner or occupier of a place to which the public has access shall provide appropriate facilities that make the place accessible to and available for use by a person with disability. Section 60 states that the owner or occupier of an existing building to which the public has access shall within ten years of the commencement of the Act make that building accessible to and available for use by a person with disability.

Has section 60 of Act 715 been complied with? 

This year will mark the thirteenth year of the coming into force of Act 715. Have the owners of existing buildings in Ghana fulfilled their mandate under section 60?  It appears that the answer is NO. Mr Ablakwa, the Minority spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa had this to say last year: 

“Mr. Speaker, long after the 10 year period we gave ourselves to take preparatory measures, 12 years on, many public buildings including Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies, Schools, Hospitals, Banks and places of worship are not disability compliant. Most of these buildings have no disability friendly facilities whatsoever. Surprisingly, even access to many parts of Parliament are not disability friendly. It is time to show genuine commitment and to lead by example…”

The way forward

The stakeholders in the disability sector such as the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations (GFD), the Media Caucus on Disability (MCD- Ghana) and Mind-Freedom Ghana must keep on being relentless. They must keep putting the needed pressure on the government to ensure that section 60 of Act 715 has been complied with. Sanctions must be meted out to all those who have failed to comply with section 60 especially since the ten year period has long elapsed. We have turned a deaf ear to the cry of persons with disabilities for far too long. The time to help them is now!