Dato’ Hajjah Shamsiah bte Abdul Rahman, Ketua Pengarah Kebajikan Masyarakat Malaysia,
giving a speech before the opening ceremony of the Disability Equality Training.
Life is continuous learning process. Mine is. There is something new everyday for me to discover. There were several things that I learnt at Disability Equality Training (DET) that I attended from last Saturday till yesterday under the sponsorship of Persatuan Orang-Orang Cacat Anggota Malaysia (POCAM). This Training The Trainer workshop was organized by the Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat Malaysia and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The topic I would have loved to understand more of was Our Rights as Disabled People but not enough time was given to it. Nevertheless, this is one subject that I will be researching extensively in the coming months that will then be applied to the work that I have committed to carry out.
Group photo of all the participants.
About one hundred people from the Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat and NGOs working with people with disabilities attended the one day seminar on Saturday. Twenty five participants stayed back to continue with the training. Fifteen were Welfare Officers from the states in Malaysia and ten were people with disabilities. Of the ten, three were audially impaired and one visually impaired. The other six were physically disabled wheelchair users with two coming from Thailand, representing the Asia-Pacific Development Centre On Disability. The sessions were conducted by Kevin McLaughlin and Lucy McLaughlin, the husband and wife team specializing in DET training from Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Individual presentation session.
DET attempts to change the mindset regarding people with disabilities. It can be a simple thing like using the correct words for describing a disabled person to recognizing their rights as equal members of society. People with disabilities should not be seen as the problem when they are unable to function effectively. Rather, the disenabling environment, prejudices and misconceptions should be rectified and addressed to include and allow equal participation by people with disabilities at all levels.
Group photo of participants together with Kenji Kuno, Chief Advisor for JICA.
Although the philosophy of DET calls for it to be run by people with disabilities, the participation and training of Welfare Officers to become DET trainers would enable them to see the situation from the other side of the fence. I am sure they have been enlightened by the various issues that the ten participants with various impairments have put forth. The pinnacle of the training was the ten-minute presentation by each participant on a DET topic of their choice. I selected Rights, a disability issue that is gaining support from the disability movement in Malaysia and also from the government for their active involvement in organising this training.