As the effects of climate change intensify, severe flooding will become increasingly common in Samoa, disproportionately impacting persons with disabilities. Activists say accessibility must be central to emergency response plans.
Sa Utailesolo has been working at the National Advocacy Organisation of Persons with Disabilities, Nuanua O Le Alofa, as a finance and administration coordinator for nearly 15 years. Read more about Sa Utailesolo
The first disability benefit scheme in Samoan history offers monthly payments to residents with disabilities. DJP Fellow Ari Hazelman interviews Samoan advocates pushing for the strengthening of this essential program.
Ari Tommy Hazelman is a blind 34-year-old Samoan man posted as the disability inclusive officer for the Samoa Blind Persons Association (SBPA). Read more about Ari Tommy Hazelman
Women with disabilities in the Solomon Islands face barriers to employment. When Diana Ma’ahoro experienced these firsthand, she enrolled in a national leadership program. Now she's a renowned disability rights activist in the Pacific.
Melvina Voua is a member of People with Disability Solomon Islands (PWDSI), the umbrella body of organizations for people with disabilities in the Solomon Islands. Read more about Melvina Voua
News From the Global Frontlines of Disability Justice
DJP mentor Kishor Sharma is known for his long-term photography and film projects exploring community and change. Over the last 12 years, he has been documenting the nomadic Raute people in mountainous Nepal. With any project, Sharma aims to actively engage participants, sharing photography and videography techniques. In September, Sharma became a mentor to DJP fellow Chhitup Lama. He was eager to connect “this idea of sharing the visual technique with the storytelling idea and the issue of disability inclusion.”
Over the summer the DJP trained Indigenous activists with disabilities from the Pacific on the iPhone camera to create a documentary series on disability and climate change. With VoiceOver, the iPhone provides image descriptions for blind and low-vision filmmakers and offers other accessible features. “If you think about it, it doesn’t make sense for a blind person to use a camera,” says DJP filmmaker Ari Hazelman. “The iPhone gives you more avenues to tell your story in a more profound way as a blind person.”
For Rwandans with DeafBlindness, critical services like healthcare and educational systems rarely offer necessary accommodations like assistive devices and tactile sign language interpretation. Naomi Uwizeyimana shares her experience with inaccessible infrastructure: “You need a person to help you to communicate everywhere you go and to get every service you want, which cannot always be possible.” Her mission is to bridge the gaps and support the DeafBlind community to fully participate in society.
DJP Fellows Esther Suubi and Kinanty Andini both advocate for the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities through their art and filmmaking, working to create a world free from stigma and discrimination. “I hope that people will realize that mental health is really important, and I hope that many people will not be ashamed if they find out their friends or their family or maybe themselves have mental illness,” says Andini. “We must speak up and prove that the stigmas are wrong.”
For decades, Rwandans with disabilities faced significant challenges to accessing health care. Now the country has embarked on an ambitious plan to renovate all of its outdated facilities, with accessibility as a priority. Thirty health centers have been updated so far, changing stairs into ramps, adding Braille signage and more. “Having access to health services to persons with disability in Rwanda is like dreams that we all wish to be true,” says Aimable Irihose of the Rwanda Organization of Persons with Physical Disabilities and Wheelchair Users.
Terubeimoa (Ruby) Nabetari has been using the skills she learned as a composer of music and drama to help her organization, Te Toa Matoa, get their messages across about the rights of persons with disabilities in Kiribati. When she first became disabled from an accident, “I felt sad and confused … because I was well-known as a person who composed music and drama in my country,” she says. “But as time went on, I thanked God that I changed my mind and started to realize what I have to offer people with disabilities.”