How Inaccessible Housing Affects People with Disabilities

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By Nyasha N’onzwe and Edmore Masendeke, Endless Possibilities

The adoption and subsequent implementation of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) has increased the recognition of disability as a human rights and developmental issue. 

It has also resulted in a paradigm shift in respect to our understanding of disability. In this regard, there has been a gradual move from understanding disability as a medical problem to understanding it as a social problem. This means that instead of seeing disability as a problem which arises from the physical or medical condition of an individual, we see disability as a problem which arises from the interaction between people with a physical or medical condition and their environment.

This environment can include the homes or houses that people with disabilities live in. In 2017, Endless Possibilities carried out a study on the housing situation of 30 people with disabilities in Dzivarasekwa.* The study found that inaccessible housing impedes most participants’ ability to do certain daily living activities. 

Most participants said that they faced many difficulties in getting into and out of the house and moving from one room to another; using the toilet; using the bathroom; using the kitchen; and using the bedroom because their houses were inaccessible. Around half of the participants also said that improving the accessibility of their houses would result in them needing less assistance in doing most of the above daily living activities.

Below is the video of one of the people we interviewed.

The study also found that:

·       Inaccessible homes can have detrimental effects on people with disabilities’ mental health and physical wellbeing.

·       Inaccessible homes can have negative impacts on family and social relations.

·       Inaccessible homes can affect the employment and productivity of people with disabilities and immediate family members.

Endless Possibilities concluded that inaccessible housing can severely harm the dignity, freedom, social inclusion, economic productivity, health and wellbeing of people with disabilities and their families.

In 2018, Endless Possibilities launched the Accessible Housing Project. It seeks to renovate houses to make them more accessible for persons with disabilities. This project is first being implemented in Dzivarasekwa.

You can read more about the Accessible Housing Project and how you can get involved here.

* Dzivarasekwa is one of oldest low-income high density residential areas in Harare, Zimbabwe. It is located some 15 km northwest of the City Centre.

 

 

© Endless Possibilities, 2022.

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