An online campaign was recently launched to shed light on the struggle of people with disabilities and their neglected rights. Founder of the campaign, Abdallah AlShalaqi, an activist from Saudi Arabia said in a TV interview that the campaign aims at raising community’s awareness of the rights of people with disabilities; breaking media silence about it; and giving a message to government officials to take action towards this issue.
People living with disabilities suffer from marginalization and neglect to varying degrees. And those with disabilities have been campaigning for equal citizenship so that they can achieve their full potential. Their struggle focuses on accessibility (the ability to move freely in the surrounding environment), equal opportunities in education, employment, housing and freedom from violence and abuse, which they can be vulnerable to.
The campaign heavily used Twitter as a main platform to raise their voices. Twitter users were asked to reverse their avatars and to use the hashtag #للمعوق_حقوق meaning “people with disabilities have rights” to highlight their cause. A large number of Twitter users joined the campaign. Safar Al Hogbani, a player in the Saudi special needs basketball team, tweeted [ar]:
Sumaya Al Ghamadi shared her experience [ar]:
Twitter user @jessica_2090 blamed society [ar]:
@jessica_2090: #للمعوق_حقوق لا يوجد شخص معوق بل يوجد مجتمع يعيق
Abo Khaled added [ar]:
Other Twitter users have been campaigning for their rights. Dr. Sohair Abdel Hafeez, who identifies herself as an Egyptian wife and a mother of five men, two of them are hearing impaired who finished their university education. Following the announcement of Mohamed Morsi as president of Egypt, she tweeted to one of the members of Morsi’s campaign [ar]:
Another prominent user is Mohamed Abu Taleb, a non-sighted person who trains other people with visual impairment on computer skills. Abu Taleb tweets about overcoming his disability [ar]:
@love_life2012: ومع بعض التشجيع من الأسرة لي وخصوصا والدي إستطعت ان اتغلب على كثير من صعوبات الإستقلالية #إعاقة #كفيف
اغرب حالات التحرش بالنسبة دايما كانت التحرش بالعربية ، يعني المتحرش كان بيستعمل عربيته كأداة تحرش وكنت فاكرة اني انا لوحدي اللي بيتعمل فيه كدا ، اكتر واقعة مش ممكن انساها لما مرة كنت بعدي الشارع وكان في عربية راكنة ادام ، بعدي من ادامها لاقيت السواق طالع خطوة وخابطني قلت اكيد مش قاصد ، رجعت اعدي من وراه راح راجع خطوة لورا، قلت اكيد مش قاصد، وثانية راح رامي جملة من اياهم ، لاقيت نفسي بمسك العكاز اللي ف ايدي وبخبط به اول فانوس في العربية ، قال جملة تانية مصحوبة بشتيمة روحت نازلة ع الفانوس التاني وهكذا لحد ما اتهمني بأني مجنونة ، مردتش غير بضربة قوية من عصايتي في نص الباب الشمال وروحت ماشية
Similar online initiatives also highlight the issues of people with disabilities such as I Am Not Disabled Twitter account and the website Voice of The Disabled, which serves as a media outlet to convey the voices of people with disabilities.
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