Welcome back to Organizational Spotlight! I am excited to announce that this week’s installment will be another update on the status of my systematic review. Lately, I have been focused on developing conclusions based on the data that I have gathered from each continent, especially Africa. Through this process, I have discovered that Africa is the only continent with more non-governmental organizations working in the education sector than in the equal rights sector, which shows that the needs of people with disabilities in the realm of education are more prominent across the continent when compared to others. As a result, both of these sectors play a major role in driving change for people with disabilities in Africa. 15 organizations focus on education while 14 focus on equal rights. However, even though education is the main focus of the non-governmental organizations currently operating in Africa, the support provided for people with disabilities in the sector is still not sufficient. According to Disabled World, there are an estimated 60-80 million people with disabilities living in Africa today. People with disabilities are estimated at 10 percent of the general African population and can be as high as 20 percent in the poorer regions. In the words of Disabled World and aligning with the beliefs of Deaf Open World, “Any vision for the future of Africa must include people with disabilities, who constitute "a significant percentage of the community anywhere in Africa.” Therefore, it is vital that non-governmental organizations work to provide the support necessary to level the playing field for this demographic. The 15 organizations identified in Africa are unable to support for the population at large of people with disabilities living in Africa. People every day in Africa are disabled by malnutrition and disease, environmental hazards, natural disasters, traffic and industrial accidents, civil conflict and war, according to Disabled World. Therefore, with the number of people with disabilities in Africa on the rise, there are not enough organizations working to provide proper support for people with disabilities. Because of this general lack of support, the majority of the youth demographic is also without access to the services that they need to be successful in the education sector.
In the continent of Africa, there are currently 8 organizations that operate with a focus on access, 3 on research and development, and 3 on employment. Regarding employment, there is a lot of room for enhancement with respect to assistance and support. There are no specific statistics listed regarding the presence of people with disabilities in the workforce in Africa, but the vast majority of this demographic is unemployed. In regard to South Africa, for example, Gillian Marescia, an associate in the disability division for Drake Recruitment, has spoken about the root of this issue. She said, “The real obstacle lies with employers. Many [employers] are still hesitant to take on employees with disabilities because they believe they may create problems in the workplace. There is also the assumption that this type of appointment will incur cost as the workplace is changed to become disability-friendly.” This is a presumption that organizations in Africa should work to rectify in order to promote inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace and, therefore, improve the state of the employment sector for this demographic.
Regarding deaf youth, 14 organizations work to support this demographic, 8 of which operate with a focus in education. With 15 total organizations working in the education sector, there can be more inclusivity regarding the demographic of deaf youth in this scope. By improving upon the number of organizations that work to enhance the scope of education, especially those who are concerned with deaf youth in this sector, there will be a great increase in support for both this realm and demographic. However, with the suggestion of increasing the number organizations working in this sector, the struggles of doing so should be noted. Starting and running a non-governmental organization takes a great deal of resources, support, and often free labor until the organization is fully off the ground. Therefore, high levels of poverty and lack of government funding in these sectors make a substantial influence on the development of nonprofit organizations. These two societal aspects are prominent across Africa which makes change through new non-governmental organizations more difficult than it would be in other continents. Lack of education for generations of deaf persons significantly influences the ability to start an organization as well because of the trouble that breaking the cycle imposes. Starting the conversation and providing the information necessary to make a difference when it seems as if you have no foundation or starting point is exceptionally hard. Due to these difficulties, we must rely on the existing non-governmental organizations operating in the continent to make positive change possible for people with disabilities.
Looking forward, it is necessary for people with disabilities in Africa to rely on the existing non-governmental organizations operating in the continent to make positive change possible. This holds true especially for deaf youth in the education sector who are not being cared for as well as they should be. Specifically in Eswatini, there needs to be more priority placed on supporting children with disabilities from major international organizations and the local government. There must also be an increase in deaf advocacy. To achieve this, the deaf population must be provided with the skills, training, and access to language necessary to ensure that their thoughts and ideas are listened to. It is also necessary to increase in the number of interpreters in the country which can be achieved by proper recruitment and training.
To read the previous update on my systematic review, please refer to this installment of Organizational Spotlight.
To read the initial sneak-peek into my systematic review, please refer to this installment of Organizational Spotlight.