THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has crafted a draft disability policy to cater for people living with disabilities (PWD), Southern Eye has learnt.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
The draft policy was crafted under the BCC Civil Society Organisation-Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (CSO-WASH) and the Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project in collaboration with partners, who include the Federation of Disabled Persons in Zimbabwe and World Vision.
In the draft policy, BCC said in order to ensure that the impact of all policy decisions addresses the specific interests and needs of PWDs, inasmuch as disabilities were different and require different attention, it will assess how every policy decision affects PWDs in their diversity and seek to ensure that the policy achieves their social and economic inclusion.
“Council commits to ensuring the participation of persons with disabilities through providing services which remove barriers which may be physical, communication, policy or any other barriers which may be identified from time to time,” the draft document read.
“Council will continue to improve communication through the use of braille, sign language or other specialist technology and training designed to assist access to current information and key messages in appropriate formats that meet specific needs.”
The local authority said it will mainstream disability in all its land use master plans, local plans and will reserve land for housing development for PWDs mindful of the need to mix them with the general community in its diversity as giving them exclusive areas will not address issues of inclusion and discrimination.
BCC will also ensure service development and provision based on the principles of universal design to allow access for PWDs to public buildings, schools, clinics or hospitals and open spaces.
Roads, parking spaces or buildings directional signs should be clear and user-friendly to persons with disabilities in their diversity.
“Council will engage with the service providers to promote access to nursery schools and crèches by children with disabilities,” the document read.
On poverty reduction, council said it will consider the impact of poverty on PWDs and undertake poverty reduction programmes in a sustainable and gender-sensitive manner such as rates rebates, allocate informal trading facilities equitably to women and men, able-bodied and disabled, reduced fees at council health facilities and housing waiting list charges.
On health services, it said sexual and reproductive health care provided at its facilities will be accessible to all members of the community, particularly women and girls with disabilities. Council also said it will ensure that public transport will be safe and accessible to PWDs.
BCC said it was committed to employing PWDs with requisite qualifications to fill in vacancies in the institution and will be responsive to the needs of employees with disabilities.