New Report Looks at Disability Worldwide
Posted on June 10, 2011 by Megan Burke
On June 9th, the World Health Organization and the World Bank released the first-ever World Report on Disability. Per the report, there are more than one billion people in the world with a disability. This report helps to give a broader view of the disability experience worldwide. It identifies barriers, unmet needs, and begins to provide guidance on how communities can move forward.
There is good news in that there is an identified shift in how we approach disability throughout the world. Disability was viewed as a medical issue and thus treated as such. Now more and more people understand that disability is part of the human condition and it is the environmental barriers that must change.
Another trend identified in the report is that the disability experience is diverse. This may not seem like a significant statement, but it is as this trend reflects how we view disability. As advocates we continuously state that services and supports must be individualized as each person’s experience of disability is different. As more and more people recognize the diversity of disability, services and supports can become more individualized and be more efficient at removing barriers.
The report listed the key barriers people with disabilities face, none of which would be a surprise to the disability community:
- Inadequate policies and enforcement of disability rights policies.
- Negative beliefs and prejudices – not being able to see past the disability resulting in low expectations and limited supports.
- Lack of services.
- Problems with service delivery such as poor coordination, limited understanding of disability competencies, workforce shortage, etc.
- Inadequate funding for services and supports.
- Lack of accessibility – buildings, transportation, communication
- Lack of choice and control over one’s life.
- Limited disability related data.
These are universal barriers throughout the world. Some countries address these barriers better than others, such as the United States and other countries who have established disability rights laws. However, these barriers continue to persist. Is there any comfort in knowing others around the world are fighting these battles also? Like anything else, as we become more connected and our world shrinks, disability rights advocates can learn from and support each other as we move the movement forward. The World Report on Disability is another step forward in the disability rights movement, bringing attention to the rights of people with disabilities and the disparities which exist.
You can read the World Report on Disability and fact sheets here.
World Health Organization and World Bank. (2011, June 9). World Report on Disability. Retrieved June 10, 2011, from World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/en/index.html