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July 7 2022 10:31 AM ˚
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Despite their high ratio, Jordanians with disabilities ‘still facing discrimination’

Last census indicates over 1 out of 10 fall in category, while change ‘needs decades’

(Photo: Unsplash)
(Photo: Unsplash)
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AMMAN — There are 1.2 million persons with disabilities in Jordan, comprising 11.2% of the population, yet this significant portion of the population faces numerous obstacles that prevent them from being integrated into the community. اضافة اعلان

Media spokesperson for the Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (HCD) Raafat Al-Zitawi told Jordan News that this number excludes those under five years of age.

The challenges facing persons with disabilities include physical limitations in addition to the environmental and behavioral barriers that disabled persons face, Zitawi explained.

The first obstacle he identified is environmental, meaning the accessibility of the nation’s infrastructure. 

“Buildings need to be accessible for persons with disabilities and be up-to-code,” said Zitawi. “This would ease their integration into all sectors: the workforce, health sector, the education system.”

To make buildings accessible, engineers must be trained on these building codes and nation-wide requirements for infrastructure including schools, shopping areas, mosques, churches, streets, and parks must be set up. 

Another obstacle is the societal acceptance of persons with disabilities. This includes their integration in the learning sector and even the workforce, according to the spokesperson. 

“Teachers are not trained to communicate with persons with disabilities, and other students are not used to interacting with them,” he said. “If children are exposed to curricula that address persons with disabilities and their rights, and see them in the classroom, the next generation would be more accepting.”

Business owners are often unaware that if appropriate measures and relevant technology is provided, persons with disabilities can perform as well as anyone. 

"We define them as persons with disabilities, but they are able if we provide them with the assistive tools or the accessibility that they need,” said disability-inclusive initiative Natahadda (we’re up to the challenge) co-founder Rami Awwad in an interview with Jordan News

Yet, there is a social stigma regarding persons with disabilities that stems from a lack of awareness. 

“A lot of people are afraid to add that they have a disability in their job applications and CV because many companies exclude them right away upon seeing that.”

He described working with several persons with disabilities throughout the country who were able to excel when given the proper tools and support. This includes a girl who earned her master’s degree this year, despite having no hands to write with. 

“We are raising awareness using these people, to show other parents that even if their child has a disability, they can achieve their goals,” Awwad added. “It is also important that we give them proper tools and technologies to help them be independent.”

A lack of access to information is yet another obstacle preventing persons with disabilities to reach their potential.

“A blind person, for example, needs suitable technology to ease their access to information,” said Zitawi. “The deaf community needs sign language translations and those with learning disabilities need simplified texts.” These are not so easily found across the Kingdom.

While persons with disabilities call for immediate change, Zitawi explains that the impact of any policy will be gradual. 

“There is change; it is slow, but it is important to note that nations that are more advanced in accessibility started working on this decades ago,” he said. “We need time, at least 10 years, for the impacts of what we are doing to show.”

The Persons with Disabilities Rights Law, set up in 2017, proposed three 10-year plans to address these obstacles. Each project is assigned to appropriate institutions and will be executed with the support of the HCD, Zitawi said. 

The high number of persons with disability in the Kingdom only stresses the importance of eliminating these obstacles, he said, and integration will transform them into assets. 

“When we update frameworks and integrate tools, persons with disabilities will be able to produce, to participate in building the community and will have a greater role in the nation.”

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