Monday, 14 March 2016

Access All Areas

Its week 10 and Team Audit have reached a milestone by completing our audit of accessibility to 40 public buildings and open spaces around Tamale this week! To celebrate, wed like to share our journey with you.

Our first and personally most impactful stop was in composing the audit form. We interviewed a series of beneficiaries associated with the Resources Centre for Persons with Disabilities. Taking a note of empathy from these conversations, we went from having little idea about the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities, to understanding the struggles which are faced in light of doing the simplest of activities. Picking up a taxi, withdrawing money from the bank and even going to school or work. Leaving the huge theoretical barriers in a society which shuns a persons with disabilities to aside, we came to find that the physical barriers to access around Tamale are also innumerable.

Tackling one building at a time, we built an incredible rapport with the local community in Tamale. Delivering letters of permission to management and administration, following up on our appointments and conducting the audit itself. Some of the places we visited, we had never even dreamed of going to. In midday heat, youd find us running as far as police stations and prisons to high courts and mosques. Physically, some of the days spent auditing in 42 degree were exhausting but we wouldnt swap it for the opportunity of stepping in through cell doors and hospital wards.

Our work was also oriented towards the 2006 Disability Act which requires all public buildings and places to be accessible for persons with disabilities within a 10 year implementation period. Yet here in 2016, it was difficult to see that the majority of these places had made little to no provision for the disabled to use their facilities. Broken ramps, poor signage and no grab bars in sight. In places, such as the Cultural Centre which hasnt been renovated a good 59 years since it was built after independence, we came to understand that in all of this, funding was of course, an essential factor.

A local chief we had the pleasure of meeting in the earlier weeks told us that here in Ghana, there is a saying whereby: the person who recommends the medicine, should also be the person who goes to fetch it. And often, whilst we would be taking note of dimensions or analysing the measures put in place for the disabled, we would come to face this very attitude from passers by. Nonetheless, the response rate from the audit sample was much higher than expected and much to our surprise we felt welcomed by the staff to do our work. Even now, myself and Hannah walk around Tamale and are greeted by some of the friendly staff and characters we met in conducting our work. Undoubtedly, its a great resource of contacts to have for the future, both for the incoming cohorts, personally and professionally.

In the factor of sustainability, a success story was being able to put the Tamale Catholic Cathedral in touch with an architect to begin their imminent building work for accessibility. We really do hope that our report will reach far and wide to have such an impact. The beneficiaries of the Resource Centre will be able to identify where they can access around Tamale and the next cohort, should god willing be able to deliver our report to the all buildings we audited for their reference in future renovations.

As we move into our final week of work, weve packed up our measuring tape to write up our findings. Well spare you the fine details, but would like to take this moment to share with you what an incredible journey its been so far.

Npagya and thank you so much for reading.

Team Audit AKA Henika and Hannah.

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