SA’s Disability Watchdog: No Bark, No Bite. Hell, No dog.

I started working with the Altitude Group since November last year. Since then, I’ve been becoming more and more aware of the policies that South Africa has (and doesn’t have) in terms of disability. Something that just dawned on me relatively recently was that, as yet, South Africa has no ‘Disability Watchdog.’ That said, I’m no expert so I’d appreciate you correcting me if I’m wrong although, sadly, I don’t think I am.

Our ‘ADA’

Based on what I read, in short: there is no South African equivalent of the American’s with Disabilities Act who actively enforces anti-ableism campaigns. The closest SA does have, though is the Human Rights Commission – who are too overworked to have time to deal with disability accessibility issues.

When a lift broke down (as well as the backup) in a building recently, I remember an American standing behind me saying “Well, that’s illegal” The sad part is, even if it was illegal we don’t have the resources to enforce the new policy. The sad reality is that, on the whole, South Africa doesn’t have any kind of ‘Disability Watchdog’ like those in America or in the United Kingdom.

Economic Acknowledgement: The Best We Got

Thanks to South Africa’s past, equity in many spheres of the society is shocking. In my hunting for legislation relating to disability, I found that a majority of the legislation is geared towards employment policies relating to the disabled. Outside of the ‘Employment Sphere’ the odd mention of disability that I come across mandates that disabled people cannot be discriminated against.

From what I’ve found, the majority of the legislation advocates against Ableism but does little, in reality, to ensure society combats Ableism. To be honest, you can promote anti-ableism campaigns until you’re blue in the face but until a group whose sole responsibility is combating Ableism on the practical level of accessibility not to mention on the more theoretical side.

It goes without saying that South Africa and the UK/US are not on the same level and so South Africa to expect, then, legislation that is as in those First-World countries would be unrealistic. That notwithstanding, it is terrifying to think that South Africa is seemingly doing the absolute minimum (if not less). Sure, it can’t be to the same standard, but why can’t there be something a little bit more substantial than an apparently flippant acknowledgment of disability equality?


One thought on “SA’s Disability Watchdog: No Bark, No Bite. Hell, No dog.

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