Racing toward a new disability strategy.
A factory in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that produces artificial limbs has become a model for development in the hemisphere. In a region where most technical aids for the disabled are imported from North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. or Europe and are either prohibitively expensive or inappropriate for local use, the Sao Paulo factory is a notable exception. The factory supplies reasonably priced orthoses and prostheses Prostheses
A synthetic object that resembles a missing anatomical part.
Mentioned in: Microphthalmia and Anophthalmia and trains technicians for most of Latin America Latin America, the Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking, and French-speaking countries (except Canada) of North America, South America, Central America, and the West Indies. . Those concerned with disability in the region have long welcomed and encouraged such transfers of the disability industry to developing nations, and with the success of these and other projects, international and regional organizations are redoubling efforts to support the disabled.
Leaders of OAS OAS
See: Option adjusted spread member states have awakened a·wak·en
tr. & intr.v. a·wak·ened, a·wak·en·ing, a·wak·ens
To awake; waken. See Usage Note at wake1.
[Middle English awakenen, from Old English to the realization that more than 10 percent of their population is disabled. This fact would usually evoke more sympathy and despair than it would action except for studies that have come at the conclusion of the United Nations Decade of the Disabled, which emphasize the untapped potential of disability programs. Pan American Health Organization The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is an international public health agency with 100 years of experience in working to improve health and living standards of the countries of the Americas. It serves as the specialized organization for health of the Inter-American System. (PAHO PAHO Pan American Health Organization (WHO) ) officials, for example, suggest that more than half of this population is disabled due to the lack of basic preventive measures and that 60 to 80 percent could be self-sufficient if they had access to rehabilitative services and equal opportunities. A majority of problems that come with disability in the Americas can, in fact, be mitigated or even eliminated.
Such encouragement is making prevention of disability and the rehabilitation rehabilitation: see physical therapy. and integration of the disabled less of a luxury and more of a necessary investment in the well-being of the state. Leaders from American democracies are beginning to recognize the mounting cost of supporting an increasingly large and nonproductive non·pro·duc·tive
1. Not yielding or producing: nonproductive land.
2. Not engaged in the direct production of goods: nonproductive personnel.
n. segment of the population.
At the OAS, where there is a long history of disability programs, officials are beginning to view the problems associated with disability in a new light. Traditionally, members of the OAS have been concerned about the disabled for reasons of health, education, and human rights. Interestingly, OAS specialists are now beginning to recognize disability as a principal threat to participatory government. They argue that, in addition to free elections and peaceful transfers of power, democracies require the participation of, and a contribution from, alienated al·ien·ate
tr.v. al·ien·at·ed, al·ien·at·ing, al·ien·ates
1. To cause to become unfriendly or hostile; estrange: alienate a friend; alienate potential supporters by taking extreme positions. and excluded members of society. Because disabled persons constitute a significant percentage of non-participants in American democracies, it is imperative--if only in the interests of democracy--to strive for their participation.
Disability is very much an international problem and with the wide range of groups, both public and private, working in the field, there is a great need for coordination. Through recent activities, the OAS has begun to move into this role in Latin America.
The move is natural for the Organization, which has managed disability programs in the Americas for over twenty years TWENTY YEARS. The lapse of twenty years raises a presumption of certain facts, and after such a time, the party against whom the presumption has been raised, will be required to prove a negative to establish his rights.
2. . Through projects in twenty-seven different countries and various technical meetings throughout the 1980s, the OAS has taken the lead in developing a network of professionals dedicated to the rehabilitation and integration of the disabled. In countries where little attention was given to disability, the OAS was a pioneer in training teachers in everything from early detection and special instruction in primary schools to vocational and independent living skills for adults.
An OAS project in Barbados, for example, worked to expand and improve special education for mentally retarded Noun 1. mentally retarded - people collectively who are mentally retarded; "he started a school for the retarded"
developmentally challenged, retarded and deaf children. The program developed special education units in three rural schools, which provided daily speech-teaching for ninety hearing impaired or mentally retarded children. Project coordinators equipped the sites with appropriate audiology audiology /au·di·ol·o·gy/ (aw?de-ol´ah-je) the study of impaired hearing that cannot be improved by medication or surgical therapy.
n. equipment, developed a special curriculum, and trained teachers in speech education. The OAS staged similar projects for the hearing impaired throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America South America, fourth largest continent (1991 est. pop. 299,150,000), c.6,880,000 sq mi (17,819,000 sq km), the southern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. .
In Honduras, an OAS project established learning resource centers for disabled students in three regions of the country. Resource centers, which endeavor to counter the repetition and neglect of a disabled child's principal school, serve as an alternative or supplement to regular schooling. The centers succeeded in diminishing the dropout (1) On magnetic media, a bit that has lost its strength due to a surface defect or recording malfunction. If the bit is in an audio or video file, it might be detected by the error correction circuitry and either corrected or not, but if not, it is often not noticed by the human rate--which was exceedingly high--among disabled Honduran schoolchildren schoolchildren school npl → écoliers mpl;
(at secondary school) → collégiens mpl; lycéens mpl
schoolchildren school .
During the 1980s, a notable trend in OAS projects for disabled youth was an increased emphasis on vocational rehabilitation Noun 1. vocational rehabilitation - providing training in a specific trade with the aim of gaining employment
rehabilitation - the restoration of someone to a useful place in society in the schools. Job skills training was a particularly weak area in many of the member states, and educators and disability specialists recognized this deficiency. Many argued that work with the disabled would be squandered squan·der
tr.v. squan·dered, squan·der·ing, squan·ders
1. To spend wastefully or extravagantly; dissipate. See Synonyms at waste.
2. unless it resulted in employment or otherwise allowed a person to contribute to society. Consequently, the focus of OAS programs shifted to fill this void.
By the end of the decade, virtually every OAS project included a component of vocational training. In the Dominican Republic Dominican Republic (dəmĭn`ĭkən), republic (2005 est. pop. 8,950,000), 18,700 sq mi (48,442 sq km), West Indies, on the eastern two thirds of the island of Hispaniola. The capital and largest city is Santo Domingo. , for example, project leaders incorporated vocational workshops into the program of five special education schools around the country. Specialists trained a corps of vocational teachers in the special needs of disabled students. Approximately 350 students a year benefited from these workshops, and job placement for participants improved dramatically.
Perhaps most importantly Adv. 1. most importantly - above and beyond all other consideration; "above all, you must be independent"
above all, most especially , however, OAS programs sought to create the infrastructure through which the member states could advance effective disability programs. On the juridical Pertaining to the administration of justice or to the office of a judge.
A juridical act is one that conforms to the laws and the rules of court. A juridical day is one on which the courts are in session.
JURIDICAL. level, officials encouraged the development of national organizations and national policies for the disabled. In education, the OAS collaborated with the ministries of education to establish special education offices that were responsible for the particular needs of disabled students. In the vocational field, specialists developed a network of subregional vocational assessment centers, which held technical meetings to evaluate the occupational needs within the region and plan strategy. In addition to individual projects, then, OAS officials endeavored to shape a regional strategy.
The scope of the OAS has shifted in the 1990s to reflect the Organization's natural strength in regional coordination. As an international organization, the OAS is uniquely suited to the development of regional strategies and standards for disability. As a result, the Organization is now less concerned with managing specific education projects than it is with coordinating activities and projects of regional private and public sector groups.
In this spirit, the OAS convened over sixty NGOs as well as specialists from Latin America and the Caribbean in March 1991 to discuss potential cooperation on disability programs in the region. The meeting provided a rare opportunity for representatives from donor institutions, policymakers from the member states, and specialists in the field to outline meaningful and economically feasible disability strategies. The group compiled a list of thirty-seven concrete projects based upon the needs of the member states and the technical and financial resources of the non-OAS organizations. For example, specialists from Gallaudet University Gallaudet University, at Washington, D.C.; coeducational; with federal support. It was founded (1856) as the Kendall School, a training school for deaf and blind students, by Edward Miner Gallaudet (see under Gallaudet, Thomas Hopkins). , in Washington, D.C., collaborated with officials from Venezuela who sought a program to standardize and promote Latin American sign language American Sign Language
The primary sign language used by deaf and hearing-impaired people in the United States and Canada.
American Sign Language (ASL),
n. . They formulated a plan to produce a "Comparative Dictionary of Basic Sign Language" and a program to develop sign language resource materials and interpretation aids.
In March 1993, increased OAS involvement with the private sector in disability matters evolved into a conference that helped to organize forces on the political level. First ladies from seventeen OAS member states along with technical delegations from thirty-three states gathered in Washington at the Western Hemisphere Western Hemisphere
Part of Earth comprising North and South America and the surrounding waters. Longitudes 20° W and 160° E are often considered its boundaries. Conference on Persons with Disabilities in order to establish the formal groundwork for a disabilities strategy in the Americas. The conference produced subregional plans of action and the comprehensive "Agenda for the Future," a veritable manifesto for the disabled in the Americas. The document outlines the priorities in the hemisphere and presents guiding strategies. Its stated intention is "to adopt a global perspective but also encourage concrete actions at the local level." Among other points, the agenda calls for the development of a national plan in each of the countries, the establishment of a regional data base, assistance in creating and standardizing national legislation, the maintenance and training of education and rehabilitation personnel, and further research into the causes of disability in the region. The document concludes with a petition to the OAS "to accept these recommendations and adopt and carry out coordinated plans with each member state."
The petition was answered. Three months later, in June 1993, at the XXIII Session of the OAS General Assembly in Managua, the member states responded to the declarations of the "Agenda for the Future" and voted, in Resolution 1249, to study the possibility of creating a commission devoted exclusively to disability matters. The General Assembly also requested that member states inform the OAS Permanent Council of "any measures they may have taken to improve the situation of the disabled." Twenty-three countries subsequently sent reports to the OAS General Secretariat describing current disability efforts in their respective countries.
In an extensive report, which details past and present OAS disability activities and recommendations and assesses the needs of specific countries within the hemisphere, the General Secretariat concurred with the propositions of the "Agenda for the Future" and formally recommended to the Permanent Council the establishment of an Inter-American Commission on Disability Affairs. The proposal includes plans to initiate activities in the second half of 1994 with a technical conference to develop disability legislation in the Caribbean nations. A similar conference for Latin American nations would follow in 1995. The commission would also concentrate its initial efforts on a comprehensive hemisphere-wide data base that would include information on research, technology, epidemiology, disability-related organizations, literature, individual living resources, and vocational information.
The proposal for the commission is before the members of the OAS Permanent Council for consideration. With its creation, the members of the OAS hope to provide the disabled with a strong regional advocate that would help to make phenomena like Sao Paulo's prostheses factory the rule rather than the exception.
Dr. Adelaide G. Farrah is the coordinator of disability affairs of the OAS. Zachary Elkins is an OAS intern intern /in·tern/ (in´tern) a medical graduate serving in a hospital preparatory to being licensed to practice medicine.
in·tern or in·terne