On 3 December 2015, DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights joined the world in commemorating the International Day of People with Disabilities. This year’s theme is Inclusion Matters: Access and Empowerment for People of all Abilities.
People living with disabilities worldwide, face many barriers to inclusion in society. There is constrained access to participate in society on a basis equal to other persons, in terms of, for example, access to and use of transportation, employment, education, and in social and political engagement.
On 2 December 2015, the Midweek Sun newspaper published an article with a heading “Help for Mentally Retarded Available”. The term “retarded” is a medical word used to describe someone who is mentally slow.Mental ‘retardation’ is considered to be an insulting and inappropriate term, which fails to respect the dignity of the person.
The human rights framework indicates appropriate language, such as “people with disabilities,” “people who are blind,” and “people living with mental illnesses”.
This will enable respectful inclusion in society and facilitate a people-centred approach to their empowerment. Both written and spoken communication should reflect the commitment to respect the dignity of all people.