Covid 19 and Disability

Persons with disability have been affected adversely by the pandemic.

Coronavirus is an infectious disease associated with severe acute respiratory complications. Disability refers to a broad rage of physical or mental conditions which limit a person's movement, senses or activities. People living with disability have been affected adversely by the raging Coronavirus andemic as outlined below:

Social distancing and public transport.

People living with disabilities can't exercise social and physical distancing as required by the ministry of health in mitigating the pandemic. This is because such people depend heavily on other people in their daily lives, for example disabled people who are bed-ridden need carers to change their beddings or to help move them from wheelchair to bed or vise versa. Depending on need, people with disabilities who use public transport need to be assisted  by others when boarding or alighting. Those who can board by themselves require the aid of support frames within the vehicle. This norm poses great challenge to them as the surfaces might be contaminated by the virus. 

Stay at home restrictions 

These restrictions have disrupted the lives of many disabled people who rely on clubs or employment as a means of social interaction. With the need to isolate, many disabled people are suffering from loneliness as these usual resources have been shut down. 

Unemployment 

As many organizations and job markets lay off their workers, the first group posed to this are people living with disabilities as the employer thinks that they are the most vulnerable to the Coronavirus. As this goes on those who searching for jobs are sturggling because the job market in general has become more compeitive. This has economic repurcussions for people with disabilities. 

Not completing education. 

When the Coronavirus pandemic hit our country the president in his first public address ordered that all learning institutions be closed until the infection curve is flattened. This was one way of mitigating the spread of the virus among the students and institution staff. Students with special needs were also affected by these directives. The government, through the ministry of education and the ministry of health, have begun adopting remote learning in education. People with disabilities are automatically at a disadvantage here, as the virtual means are often not readily accessible for all disabilities. 

Violence and gender based conflicts.

People living with disabilities often face violence either from people who are close to them or from the outside. This ranges from sexual abuse to bullying and stigmatization.  On account of the pandemic's lockdown, figures show that domestic violence is on the rise. This affects many groups, but none so more than people with disabilities. 

In light of the above, several measures should be taken into consideration to save and protect people living with disabilities:

(1)Strengthen national legislation and health policies. 

(2)Identify and eliminate obstacles in health centres. 

(3)Improve health care coverage and affordability for disabled people. 

(4)Empower persons with disabilities to take control over their own health care decisions. 

(5)Make information on related measures accessible to all. 

(6)Ensure persons with disabilities are exempted from stay at home measures. 

(7)Promote and coordinate development of community support network

(8)Consider special opening hours in businesses for people with disabilities and their caregiver. 

(9)Provide financial aid for people living with disabilities without any income. 

(10)Increase existing disability benefits. 

(11)Extend automatically any soon to expire disability related entitlement. 

(12)Provide financial compensation for self employed who find their income reduced. 

(13)Ensure access to internet for remote learning and ensure software is accessible. 

(14)Provide guidance, training and support for teachers on inclusive education. 

(15)Establish close coordination with caregivers of people living with disabilities. 

(16) Develop accessible educational audio-visual materials to disseminate through different media. 

(17)Raise disability awareness and provide training. 

Edwin Opetu 


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