By Andrew Ssenyonga
The United Nations has awarded Uganda the "Innovative policy on accessibility 2014 award" for its efforts in enforcing accessibility to all venues for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Uganda’s national accessibility standards were selected among the 15 most innovative policies on disability in the world and awarded the title of ‘innovative policy on accessibility 2014".
The award was unveiled at a press conference organised by Uganda National Action on Physical Disabilities (UNAPD) on Friday at Hotel Africana in Kampala by Martin Babu the UN representative on committee of experts on the Rights of PWDS.
Babu expressed gratitude to the parliament and the President for enacting the Building Control Act to enhance access of PWDs to structures.
“We are working with the architects and engineers to adopt the standards in their work,” he said, and hailed the government for playing a key role in the promotion of disability rights in the country and in Africa.
“Uganda was one of the first countries anywhere to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of PWDS. You have enshrined the rights of PWDs in your constitution, which also recognizes sign language as a national language,” he said.
The UN representative noted that PWDs are well represented right from Parliament to the village level, and he commended the strong disability movement.
Babu, however, said there were challenges in addressing the welfare issues of PWDs as well as discrimination.
“Despite this progress, Uganda still faces a number of challenges when it comes to giving people with disabilities a chance to earn a living and building their own lives,” he said.
The UNAPD chairman Arthur Blick Snr. urged Government to integrate disability in all government programmes.
The awards at which Uganda’s efforts were recognized took place at the UN offices in Vienna, Austria through the Zero Project.
Uganda was represented by the state minister for elderly and disabled Sulaiman Madada.
The international summit on accessibility hosted over 400 experts on accessibility and disability worldwide.
The accessibility standards were designed by the gender ministry with the help of other stakeholders such as Uganda National Action on Physical Disability (UNAPD) with the aim of promoting a barrier-free environment for all including PWDs.