An award-winning initiative by an Egyptian NGO is enhancing the mobility of many physically challenged persons.
The initiative is being implemented by Helm, which started out as a club at the American University in Cairo.
The group builds ramps and trains disabled people in an attempt to help them have greater access.
The society itself needs to be prepared more than the blind or the disabled. The blind and disabled are people just like everybody else, but the problem is that the society itself needs to be taught how to deal with all of the different factions
Six governorates in Egypt have since September 2014 been training some visually impaired persons in a bid to make them employable. The project is being jointly undertaken by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.
“The idea of accessibility is one that a lot of people think is just about ramps, that we can just build a ramp and resolve the problem of all the disabled people in Egypt. But that is not true, because accessibility as we define it, is any obstacle a person faces in their daily lives, and this obstacle is not in the person himself, it is in the environment around them,” Ramez Maher, Co-founder of Helm said.
The project trains employers and co-workers on how to handle people with different disabilities.
“The society itself needs to be prepared more than the blind or the disabled. The blind and disabled are people just like everybody else, but the problem is that the society itself needs to be taught how to deal with all of the different factions,” said a blind trainee, Shehab Al-Omda.
Egypt’s 2014 constitution requires the creation of a favourable environment that will allow persons with disability enjoy their rights.
“This is a clear acknowledgment, for the first time, that the state is making itself responsible to treat the disabled as citizens who are equal with everybody else and that it is right to reach everywhere and enjoy the services and its luxuries and be able to reach information,” Ashraf Marei, Secretary General of the National Council for Disability said.
The exact number of persons living with disabilities in Egypt is unknown.