The human right of people with disabilities in New Zealand has come back into the spotlight by the Human Rights Commission.
The report named ‘Making Disability Rights Real’ highlights some of the main issues as being adequate data collection, accessibility, education, violence and abuse, and building a people driven system.
This list covers all the basics of what needs to be reviewed in order to improve the quality of life for the disabled community. I believe that the most important out of these 5 issues however, is the urgency of developing a people driven system – particularly people who are from the specific community of concern.
No one else quite knows or understands the structural and daily problems faced by the vastly diverse disabled community in this country than those who experience it and those who are constantly exposed to them; such problems occur due to the aforementioned inadequacies in accessibility, education, and violence and abuse.
The campaign to increase the number of broadcasted shows that have closed captioning would not be happening if the deaf community had the agency and the means to highlight this as a legitimate hindrance in their ability to integrate and be included in the mainstream experiences. I also doubt that those who do not require closed captioning would have recognised this as something that needs to be addressed, myself included.
This is just one clear example of how effective and positive change can happen if the people who understand the issues through lived experience are the driving forces behind the campaigns in question.
It’s not about being able to identity these needs yourself; it’s about listening to those who actually are able to, taking them seriously and treating them like human beings who have something to say. This is what ‘human rights’ is all about.