Disability in South Africa : a theological and socio-economic perspective
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ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The United Nations (UN) declared the period 1983 to 1992 the “Decade of Disabled Persons”, and introduced the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The Rules demonstrate a strong commitment to upholding human rights and provide guidance for policy formulation to improve the lives of persons with disabilities through their equal participation and maximizing their welfare. There is no consensus on a definition and measurement of disability (Altman, 2001; Mitra 2005:7). The study used the medical, social, and theological models to explore the theoretical, conceptual and theological meaning of living with disabilities; examine the respondents’ perceptions of the church’s influence on their spirituality and daily lives; describe the respondents’ socio-economic conditions with particular attention to civic participation, discrimination, employment, education and health, and make recommendations, based on the findings, to inform policy on people with disabilities in South Africa. The researcher adopted a qualitative and quantitative approach in the study. The population consisted of parents or caregivers to minor and adult children with varying degrees of disabilities, adults with physical disabilities, and family members with disabled persons. Data was collected by means of informal and semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and observation. The main barriers to participation were that the respondents did not feel well enough to participate owing to their disabilities; lack of money; lack of confidence, and the attitudes of others either in the community, at work or at service points. Choice and control in the respondents’ lives was established to be an important aspect of wellbeing and life satisfaction. The respondents who felt they had a choice were satisfied with the services they received. The respondents with mental health conditions reported the least positive experiences and outcomes. Many of the barriers they reported related to their lack of confidence and the attitudes of others in their communities. The study was limited to a relatively small sample of respondents in the greater Cape Town area in the Western Cape, comprising only Evangelical Christians. Consequently, the findings cannot be generalised to all areas of the country and all the Christian churches.AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: "Geen opsomming"
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