Building Political Awareness of People With Disabilities

Politics is the systematic set of activities which are related with making decisions on behalf of individuals, groups or other types of political power relationships between individuals, like the distribution of land or status to individuals or groups. The major branch of social science that studies politics and governmental administration are known as political science. Politics also includes the study of constitutional government, popular government, national government, international government and national economy.

Politics has a long history. It evolved from the ancient Greek’s “political” and “ethics” and spread its influence throughout the world. Aristotle argued that individuals are motivated by interest groups and that they should have a right to be involved in politics because their interests would be better served through government regulation and the protection of their rights and interests. He further added that the will of the people could be employed in overcoming the obstacles standing in the way of their true interests.

Aristotle was one of the first to introduce the idea of a social contract. The social contract is a legal agreement among individuals regarding the distribution of responsibility and power among them in order to ensure a just society or political order. This idea became prominent in many countries during the enlightenment including England, France, Sweden, Prussia and the United States. The social contract ideas were rejected by some individuals and groups during the colonial period in America and during the period of industrial revolution. However, many countries such as India, China, India, Brazil and the Philippines introduced the concept of a community of common interest into their polities and introduced the concept of representative assemblies for a better democracy.

After the introduction of the concept of political processes, various groups strove to overcome the various barriers to the adoption of new political processes. In the 21st century, the challenges to overcome these barriers still exist, as a result of the global economic crisis and environmental issues. The advocates of political engagement suggest that the development of the world economy needs to be balanced with the promotion of environmental sustainability. They argue that there has been some global progress regarding the reduction of carbon emissions, but there are still numerous environmental issues to be addressed, particularly those which are caused by carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels. Many of these proposed activities have been promoted globally through various international conferences and other participatory action groups.

There are a number of impediments to the achievement of progressive political processes and some of them can be identified as: discrimination against disabled people, the exclusion of women in politics, the disproportionate representation of men in politics, the unequal treatment of disabled people in the health, education, employment and social services sectors, poverty and lack of opportunity. The advocates of disability rights claim that discrimination against the disabled exists on all levels of society and there are still many limitations affecting the right to participate in democratic politics. For instance, the right to vote and participate in the election is denied to people with disabilities, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, union membership or disability. The right to enjoy equal opportunities in education and employment is denied to people with disabilities. Moreover, there are many forms of discriminatory policies such as anti-whitish, racism and sexism. This situation has been criticized by a section of disability rights advocates as well as by international human rights bodies such as the United Nations, World Health Organization, etc.

Another significant challenge facing disabled people when it comes to political participation is the absence of information and communication systems that make it possible for them to make decisions. Communication and information systems designed for people with disabilities often include Braille print, permanent print, screen-scraping, laminating and other technologies which make it very hard for them to access and read documents. In addition, most information systems do not allow them to make informed decisions about their use and do not make available the means by which they could compare alternatives and choose the one that best suits their needs.

Overcoming the many barriers that disabled people face in obtaining equal opportunity and a meaningful way of life is an ongoing process that has been ongoing since the time the Second World War broke out. The situation is more problematic in many developing countries where the laws and policies regarding disability do not protect them against discrimination or violence. Lack of political awareness on the part of the local and national authorities makes it difficult for these people to gain access to resources needed to improve their conditions. Similarly, there is a lack of policies that make provisions for the financially, physically and socially handicapped to engage in politics or build an independent and prosperous life. Lack of political awareness does not mean that these people are powerless, rather it highlights the need for governments, institutions and organizations to work more on building greater political awareness and support for these people.

Building greater political participation of people with disabilities will take time. No disability is a perfect gift but the advantages can definitely be utilized to improve the lives of disabled people. Many people with disabilities have been given an opportunity to participate fully in the society while avoiding the disadvantages of disability. However, a lot of these people still fall back into poverty and remain excluded from a number of basic human rights and freedoms. Governments, organizations and communities must work more to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy all that life has to offer. When everyone has a fair chance at achieving success, there is no reason why disabled people should be left behind.