The International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the United Nations in 2006 according to the universal declaration of Human Rights and international conventions on human rights. Sri Lanka has signed the convention in 2007 and the proposal made by S.B. Dissanayake, Minister of Social Empowerment and Welfare, to ratify the convention for the benefit of Sri Lankan disabled persons, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.
A tweet from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported the ratification was done.
— Mahishini Colonne (@MFASriLanka) February 11, 2016
In the context of our work on catalyzing efforts to make Myanmar an inclusive information society, I had asked for comparative data on persons with disabilities in the two countries.
I was quite surprised. For a country that prides itself on universal healthcare and on being the world’s largest donor of corneas for transplant, how is it that we have such high percentages of disabled?
But there is a another possible explanation. My colleague Nirmita Narasimhan who is assisting our disability-related work in Myanmar tells me that there could be systematic undercounts of the disabled because census numerators think it’s rude to ask and people are ashamed to tell. Is it possible that this systemic undercount is less in Sri Lanka for some reason?
Here are some thoughts from Nirmita on what we can do to make our societies more inclusive:
The mobile phone is the single most effective tool today in the hands of persons with differing abilities to access information and communication. Developments in handsets, applications and services offer features and options which cater to a wide variety of user needs and enable them to access general and specialised services such as digital libraries, periodicals and news services, GPS to aid navigation, optical character recognition, text to speech and speech to text for persons with blindness and intellectual challenges/ illiterate persons, apps which locate accessible places for persons with physical disabilities, messaging to warn deaf persons in times of disasters and many more. The ITU G3ict report on making mobile phones accessible for persons with disabilities provides details of accessibility features of handsets and gives examples of accessible services and what different organisations and service providers in other countries are doing in this area.