Striving to remove barriers that prevent us from building Vibrant, Diverse, Inclusive, Accessible Communities!

 

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The Baha'i Faith and People with Disabilities:

The Baha'i Faith and People with Disabilities - Sunburst colored 9 Pointed Star withuniversal disability symbols inside over a sunset background

For as long as there have been people on this planet, some of them have have been People with Disabilities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 Adults in the United States have some type of Disability .

Regarding people with disabilities, there are a number of quotes from the Baha'i Writings .

A more detailed compilation entitled "A Journey of Courage - From Disability To Spiritual Ability  compiled by Frances Mezei and Shirlee Smith has recently been made available.

The Bahá'í Service for the Blind was established over sixty years ago and is a committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States.    

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Task Force for the Baha’i community was Appointed by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States in the 1980s.

The Baha'i International Community has been involved at the forefront of international efforts on human and civil rights. On August 6, 1988, in Geneva, giving statements on human rights and disability , the Baha'i International Community made the following points:

  • The reformation of social stereotypes and prejudices against the disabled requires education aimed at helping individuals to see the disabled as real people and to share in their triumphs. As Baha'i­s, we are working to implement this kind of education in our schools and in Baha'i­ homes. We are pleased to learn from the Special Rapporteur's report that a number of governments have reported that they are pursuing educational programmes with this goal directed towards young persons, teachers and the society as a whole.
  • Ensuring equal rights for the disabled. Like many other groups, the disabled have been stigmatized and victimized by prejudice, preventing them from assuming their rightful places in society. As pointed out by the Special Rapporteur, the elimination of traditional stereotypes and prejudices against the disabled is a sine qua non for their full enjoyment of fundamental human rights. We agree wholeheartedly with the Special Rapporteur that all sectors of society must work to integrate disabled persons into the life of society and give them equal opportunities in schools, the workplace and the community at large. Society will be the loser if it fails to benefit from the talents of disabled persons. Their resolute determination to overcome problems that most of us will never be forced to deal with should be a shining torch for us all. We would only suggest that the Special Rapporteur emphasize the ideal of rehabilitation in the family as well as in the community. Family members should be trained, where possible, to help provide the support and encouragement that the disabled person requires to surmount his impairment. Moreover, we would add the right to freedom of religion to the list of those rights especially important for the disabled person. Disabled persons must be free to partake of the inspiration that religious beliefs can provide. We have described in more detail our views on these topics, and on the broad economic, social and cultural rights to which disabled persons are entitled, in our written statement to the current session of the Sub-Commission.
  • We welcome discussions on the possibility of drafting a convention on disabled persons' rights. Every effort to specify more clearly disabled persons' rights and entrench these rights in the legal order deserves to be commended.
  • Disabled persons will no longer have to cope with their handicaps in isolation, hidden behind a veil of intentional ignorance on the part of the society around them. We applaud efforts worldwide to help them surmount their disabilities and become fully-functioning members of their communities. Indeed, we all have much to learn from the disabled persons. Theirs is often an example worthy of emulation.

Two years later, On July 26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. As he lifted his pen, he declared: “ Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down .”

Today, decades later, Baha'is around the world in our various communities are working together to strive to remove barriers that prevent us from building Diverse, Vibrant, Inclusive, Accessible Communities! Join us in our efforts!

 

Cultural Change Observations:

 

Striving to remove barriers that prevent us from building a Diverse, Vibrant, Inclusive, Accessible Community!

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