I just finished watching Roya TV’s competition show “Mish Mustaheel” (translation: Not Impossible). The episode I watched focused on finding the best solution on how to help people with disabilities. I am shocked with some of the ideas that were presented and they demonstrate the lack of awareness people have in our society regarding the rights and needs of people with disabilities. I’m going to discuss the ideas presented in the episode:
The first idea was the best of the three in my opinion, but doesn’t mean it was the ideal solution to help integrate people with disabilities in Jordan. It was presented by two people, one of which is a wheelchair user (so he knows what’s actually needed from personal experience). Their idea was related to improving transportation for people with disabilities, a topic I’ve discussed many times as it is one of the most crucial steps to helping people with disabilities gain independence and be included in society. Their idea is to educate taxi drivers on the proper etiquette and techniques for helping people with disabilities be able to use taxis and to develop existing transportation applications to include services for people with disabilities so they can request cars based on their disabilities so they get drivers that are trained in their specific disability to assist them.
This is a good first step to solve transportation issues facing people with disabilities but should not be our end goal. The best solution is to bring accessible cars to Jordan or make the public transportation system accessible to people with disabilities can go to work, get an education, or just live their life more easily. Our goal should be to help people with disabilities gain as much independence as possible, not requiring them to rely on the knowledge of others to help them to do things they can do on their own given the proper tools and accessible environments. We need to make our transportation system accessible to everyone by offering things like accessible buses or taxis, signs with braille, accessible parking spots, or disability placards for parking.
The second idea presented was to develop a wheelchair that turns into a bed, has hot and cold water cooler for drinking, a medicine compartment, and even acts as a toilet. The chair even has a screen to watch TV and play games. These are just a few of the features offered.
Let’s make Jordan accessible so people don’t need to be stuck at home and have 100 attachments added to their wheelchair because they can’t move around. Instead of encouraging people with disabilities to remain isolated and not have to leave their room by giving them a chair they can sleep on, use the toilet on, be entertained on and everything else they might ever need to do, we need to encourage people with disabilities to be integrated within the society. I’m really happy one of the judges pointed this out! What we need is to encourage our society to accept more people in the workforce, schooling systems, and more. Even though the example of people who are suffering from complete paralysis was given, people with complete paralysis should still be able and allowed to leave the house and live their life! I know several people who suffer from complete paralysis but still want to live and experience life fully. If they are given the proper tools and an accessible environment, they can be productive and equal members of society.
The third idea presented, and the one that won the competition, was an application that will provide a teaching curriculum for children with disabilities so they can learn from home. This idea goes against everything related to the rights and needs of people, especially children, with disabilities. How are we supposed to create an inclusive community that is accepting and understanding of people with disabilities if we continue to isolate them from the rest of their community? In addition, this contestant has no background in education, especially special needs education.
Develop an application that teaches educators how to create inclusive classrooms that will help integrate children with disabilities in our community so they don’t grow up isolated from everyone else and learn from a young age that they are part of a bigger community that is considerate of their human rights and needs. We should be teaching our children from a young age that humans have equal rights and needs to access to healthcare, education, employment and more. The solution isn’t to keep people isolated and deliver services to them.
I have respect for all the judges who are on the show, but there should have been people with them who have knowledge and understanding about the topic at hand and what is actually needed to integrate people with disabilities in the community. The contestants were coached prior to presenting their ideas but I think they needed more information on what people with disabilities actually need. The first idea was the closest to a solution by a person actually facing the challenges of living with a disability in Jordan even though it wouldn’t have completely solved the problem of transportation in Jordan, it was more viable than the other ideas. We always need to talk to people who are facing the challenges we are trying to solve before offering our own solutions.
This episode demonstrated to me that Jordan still has a long way to go when it comes to acknowledging and understanding the rights of people with disabilities and I hope with my platform, Accessible Jordan, we can continue to raise awareness about what actually needs to be done for people with disabilities to live a normal life as equal members of our society.