Persons with disabilities (PWDs) want their workplaces to see them as persons first, and not as persons with an impairment.
With this, workplaces will then be able to enhance their full potential according to Eric Wakoko, the disability inclusion facilitator for Light for the World. Wakoko made the remarks while speaking last week at the Employment Summit held at Golden Tulip hotel.
The summit was organized by the Uganda Business and Disability Network (UBDN) together with Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE), The Make 12.4% Work Initiative, and the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), to create awareness on disability inclusive recruitment and also growing the membership of the network.
“We as PWDs, yearn to see that everyone is concerned about the values and rights of PWDs; first by seeing a person before their impairment and then recognizing what anyone needs, a PWD also does,” said Wakoko.
According to Wakoko, stigmatisation against PWDs starts right from family homes where people with disabilities are denied early medical intervention while others are ignored by family members for simply being disabled.
Disability discrimination is sometimes accelerated by community beliefs where disabled people are considered as a curse, whose parents are being punished for something they did wrong previously. At workplaces, disabled persons are not seen through their abilities to perform like any other persons but rather as an appointment token for their disabilities.
"As HR managers and practitioners, we need to make sure that PWDs are given enough care, treated well at the workplace. If treated well, PWDs can perform very well than anyone at the workplace,” said Juliet Nabwiire Wandera, a human resource specialist and 2017 Best HR Analytics Award winner.
Nabwiire said that the 2014 National Population and Housing census found that PWDs comprise of 12.4 per cent of Uganda’s total population and disability inclusion is therefore essential for sustainable development.
When in March this year, the government announced a nationwide lockdown and curfew to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the set guidelines created serious challenges to PWDs of mobility, access to basic needs and services including food and medication, and participation in income generating activities. The restrictions have left persons with disabilities (PWDs) who are already vulnerable doubly affected.