Today 20th February 2019, light for the World Foundation together with the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) appeared before the parliamentary committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development chaired by Hon. Ndeezi Alex to present their views and concerns on the proposed “THE PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES BILL, 2018.”
Dr. Busingye first noted that Persons with disability in Uganda are often marginalized and discriminated in many aspects of life, including employment. This he said creates a vicious cycle, which reproduces and entrenches a second – class citizenship for persons with disabilities in the country. Thus, while 26% of Ugandans live in property; this figure is substantially higher for persons with disabilities, almost 80% of whom live in the poverty line. Significantly, over 46% of persons with disabilities reported that they had been excluded from accessing employment on grounds of their disabilities. The phenomenon is not unique to Uganda. In fact the World Bank estimates for instance, that 20% of the world’s poorest people have a certain kind of disability.
He further observed that as a general matter, it is noteworthy that the Persons with Disability Bill 2018 largely place obligations on the part of private persons and employers, rather than implicating affirmative governmental action and responsibility.
He highlighted that for instance while Clause 7 of Bill (non –discrimination in the provision of educational services) outlaws discrimination against learners with disability, it does not impose an obligation on the government to facilitate inclusive education in form of construction of accessible and inclusive schools or employment of qualified teachers. The clause is silent regarding the provision of instructional materials in accessible format as well as language development for deaf children which he noted that a critical failure of the Bill given the link between education and employment prospects and in view of existing evidence of the challenges faced by persons with disabilities education at all levels.
The National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) observed that Clause 8 of the Bill (non – discrimination in the provision of health services) similarly focuses on private rather than non-governmental responsibility, with provisions requiring any significant state expenditure. They highlighted that, although the mentioned Bill has provisions relating to accessibility (Clause 11-13), these appears to unduly emphasize physical disability, to the exclusions of persons with intellectual of psycho-social disabilities.
They further noted that the Bill fails to include a number of rights recognised by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) , such as the rights to access into information ( including sign language interpretation and information in braille format), access to justice , political participation , sports and recreation , liberty and security, privacy and special provisions in situations of risk and other emergencies.
Indeed, although this memorandum focuses on employment and livelihood, all of these rights are interrelated, and mutually reinforcing. The absence of a strong and comprehensive provisions relating to transport and accessibility in the persons with disability bill of 2018 has a direct and a negative bearing on the ability of persons with disabilities to obtain an maintain employment, including self – employment.