Transcript for ‘Put Words into Action!’
The video begins with a piano instrumental playing and a black screen with yellow words. A woman narrator reads the words, “Malawi Accessibility Challenges.”
Video cuts to a driveway, where Bernadetta Vazi, a woman in a wheelchair, is moving toward a curtained doorway. As she disappears into the doorway, a girl with a green shirt begins to run across the driveway but shyly stops when she sees the camera.
Video cuts to another driveway, where Derrick Kumwenda, a man in a wheelchair, is being pushed by another man up a steep ramp to a doorway. The ramp is blocked by a rolled-up rug, and the wheelchair is unable to get past it.
Cut to a yellow screen with black words. The narrator reads the words, which say, “12 years since Malawi ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).”
The screen transitions to brown with white and yellow words that the woman continues to read, “It is 10 years into Malawi Disability Act.”
The video cuts to Sekerani Kufakwina, who is a government human resource officer and disability advocate. Sekerani is Deaf. He wears a red and white shirt with tan khakis and is sitting in a chair outside. A phone is on his lap. A sign language interpreter appears on the bottom-right corner of the screen and interprets for the remainder of the video.
Sekerani signs as the narrator interpret, “Malawi ratified the UNCRPD in 2009. A lot was just signed on paper with no implementation. The policyholders and general public have a poor understanding on issues of accessibility. Physical access and access to information is still a challenge.”
The screen cuts to a yellow background with black words. The narrator reads, “Poor accessibility continues to deny persons with disabilities independence, posing a safety and security threat.”
The screen cuts to Derrick again as he gets out of a white car, assisted by the same man as before. After shutting the car door, Derrick neatly stacks a folder with white papers on his lap as he is wheeled toward the ramp, which we see if blocked by the rug.
The screen cuts to an interview with Derrick sitting in his wheelchair outside a white stucco building. He is wearing a purple and white striped shirt, black pants, and white sports shoes. He introduces himself: “My name is Derrick Kumwenda. I’m paraplegic, I have what is spinal cord injury. And currently, I’m a credit analyst working for National Economic Empowerment Fund.”
The video cuts to a newspaper headline that says “Make ATMs user friendly.”
Derrick continues, “I‘ve had challenges in accessibility, mostly to the public sector buildings and services.” Cut to a photo of a wheelchair-inaccessible “NB Moneycard” ATM. “I cannot go to the market because the places are not accessible for someone who is disabled, mostly on a wheelchair.” The video cuts to a point-of-view shot of an “NB Moneycard” branch from inside a car. Because of the way the ramps are constructed, I cannot do it on my own,” says Derrick. The video cuts to a steep inaccessible wheelchair ramp entrance to a building. “I have to rely on someone to push me on the wheelchair. So, sometimes you find that the person who is pushing you is not experienced enough and they can even push you away from the ramps.”
The video cuts to Derrick being pushed up the blocked ramp again. The man pushing him is unable to get the wheelchair past the rug and has to move it out of the way.
Derrick continues, “The workspace is not that friendly because the workstations that are there are not accessible enough for someone on a wheelchair. Because this problem, I’m forced either to come out of the office to visit nearby places whereby I can access the toilets, or sometimes I’m forced to work from home.”
The video cuts to a headline that says, “People with disabilities struggle in Malawi’s cities.” The sub-headline says, “How can the Sustainable Development Goals help children with disabilities in Malawi’s cities?
Derrick continues, “In my opinion government is giving a blind eye to the whole situation because each and every year the budget passes by.”
The video cuts to another headline that says, “Malawian school children with disability struggle to access drinking water and toilets.”
Derrick continues, “We are even given an example of the Ministry of Disability whereby I would have thought that that would have been the most friendly place.”
The video cuts to a photo of several people sitting in the wing of the Disability Ministry.
Derrick continues, “You find that to access the wing of the Disability [Ministry]; it’s on the second floor, and most of the times the lifts to the place are broken down. Newly constructed buildings.”
The video cuts to a man walking up a ramp to get to the wing of the Disability Ministry. A caption reads, “The ramp is too steep.” Then the video cuts to a photo of another steep ramp.
Derrick continues, “Newly constructed buildings, they easily pass by the city assemblies and the city councils whereby they are supposed to be rejected because most of the buildings are not disabled-friendly.” Cut to another photo of a steep ramp.
The video cuts to Bernadetta as she negotiates a steep hill in her wheelchair. Cut to an interview with Bernadetta. She is wearing a black shirt, pants, and shoes. She sits in her wheelchair in a shaded grove of trees. Bernadetta [speaking in Chichewa] says, “Bernadetta Vazi, Executive Director of Joy Abilities Empowerment. As the director of JAE, I’m quite often called to meetings in different hotels.”
The video cuts to a photo of Bernadetta holding a microphone and speaking in a hotel lobby. Cut to another photo of Bernadetta sitting with colleagues at a hotel conference table. Bernadetta continues, “However, I fail to concentrate on the meeting’s agenda, as I keep thinking of how I access the different facilities.”
The video cuts to a photo of a hotel bathroom. A caption reads, “Wheelchair-inaccessible bathroom design.”
Bernadetta says, “I switch my focus to how I will maneuver whilst my colleagues, physically able-bodied, are relaxed.”
The video cuts to Bernadetta pushing down a dirt road in a wheelchair.
The video cuts to a yellow screen with black words, and the narrator reads, “A fundamental human right is for disabled people to gain access and participation on an equal level with others, regardless of our impairments.”
The video transitions to another yellow screen with black words and the narrator reads, “Article 9, paragraphs 2 (d) and (e) of the UNCRPD, provide that buildings and other places open to the public should have signage in Braille and in easy-to-read and understandable form.”
“And that live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign-language interpreters should be provided to facilitate accessibility.”
The video cuts to Sekerani’s interview again. He signs, “Government should try to find sign language interpreter trainings.”
The video cuts to vaccine footage by Reuters of Malawian officials displaying COVID vaccines. Several people wear masks with a crowd around them.
Sekerani continues, “Because of the language barrier, Deaf persons in the country have inadequate information on COVID and its updates.” The video cuts to two doses of the COVID vaccine on a red table. A brief cut to multiple COVID vaccines in a cardboard box. “Like vaccination and information on the recently discovered variant,” he says.
The video cuts to shots of the Kamuzu Central Hospital.
Sekerani continues, “This information is broadcasted on TV on daily basis, but it is in a language that a Deaf person can’t understand.”
Cut to a yellow screen with black letters. The narrator reads, “Currently, there are less than 10 professional sign language interpreters in Malawi. The national media house has two interpreters restricted to news, which is 1 to 3 percent of national coverage. With this, not even the presidential national address on COVID is covered.”
Cut to a newspaper headline that reads, “Malawi government shows little interest in improving access to information.”
The video cuts to a woman, Martha Chambalo, wearing a flowing purple skirt and red blouse walking barefoot around the corner of a building. Cut to Martha Chambalo sitting on a chair in front of the bumper of a red van.
Martha [speaking in Chichewa] says, “I’m Martha Chambalo, popularly known as Mrs. Kainga. I am a visually impaired lady. I’m the teacher at the Nanthenje Primary School. I became visually impaired at a young age.”
The video cuts to Martha indoors, arranging furniture in a living room.
Martha says, “Growing up, I encountered several challenges. In class when given assignments, I couldn’t read on the chalkboard. I relied on classmates to read it out for me but some denied to help.”
The video cuts to Martha straightening a tablecloth in a living room.
She continues, “I could stay behind to copy notes. Books were scarce at school, even at the teacher training college, which made it hard for me to learn.
The video cuts to another shot of Martha straightening a tablecloth in a living room.
She continues, “ It is by God’s grace and my hard work that I completed school.”
Video cuts to Martha seated behind a red van. She says, “Going to the borehole, people in the community laughed at me, saying I can’t draw water as I was blind. ‘Why does she bother to go to school? She can’t succeed. Even if she succeeds, who would employ a person who is visually impaired?’”
The video cuts to Martha arranging items in a living room. She says, “I see grace that I’m working and supporting even those that laughed at me. Working with the Minister of Education as a teacher, we are challenged with lack of teachers and learners with books that are in Braille.”
The video cuts to a shot of Martha collecting a book and placing it on a table in a living room.
Martha continues, “The Minister says it’s expensive, hence teachers with visual impairment fail to effectively deliver as fellow sighted colleagues do. Even writing materials like Perkins Brailler, stylus, and Marburg [Braille instrument setting] are not available. We just use our experience to teach. We ask colleagues to help read out tomorrow’s classwork. Some don’t offer to help, saying they don‘t share our salary.”
Cut to Martha reading a textbook in Braille as she sits in her living room. “In class, we use more intelligent pupils to identify those lacking behind and other class management methods like group work I employed.”
The screen cuts to a yellow screen with black words. The narrator says, “Accessibility is a civil right, a human rights principle running through the UNCRPD. Inaccessibility is discrimination, a violation of the right to equality, freedom of movement, or independent living.”
“Human rights are indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated. There is a cascading effect when just one right is denied.”
The video cuts to Martha sitting on the bumper of the red car, saying, “I feel government just wants to be perceived as thinking of us as people, persons with disabilities. but no tangible action. They are failing.
The video cuts to a slow-motion shot of Martha and her fingers reading Braille. “They say our Braille materials are expensive, why is government failing to buy Braille materials?” she asks. “This affects employment opportunities for the disabled. But yet the same government is able to buy books for other people, printers, which are equally expensive. Persons with disabilities are restricted to teaching because of accessibilities issues yet they can deliver beyond teaching. We are capable of being employed in various ministries. Disability should not be a barrier. I have never seen government giving assisted devices like white canes to the blind or wheelchairs to people with mobility challenges. Only non-government organizations intervene.”
The video cuts back to Sekerani’s interview. He signs, “I have few words. This is time to act. For years it has been a song and a lot has been signed. But this is a time to act. The 2018 Disability Act Agenda must be adapted. We have to act now. Paperwork time is over. Laws are provided. They must be followed and enforced.”
The video cuts to Derrick saying, “I think the government needs to really to think seriously about the Disability Act because it’s affecting most of the disabled people in the country. Economically, socially, they’ve been affected.”
The video cuts to Bernadetta moving outside in a wheelchair towards Julie-Marie Chibekete, another woman who is also in a wheelchair. Julie-Marie is holding a phone with a laptop on her lap. Derrick continues, “Because it doesn’t really necessarily require the government to push in money. There are some other issues that just need policy direction.”
The video cuts to a yellow background with black words. The narrator reads the words, which are all quotes from Sekerani, Martha, Derrick, and Bernadetta.
“Everyone, irrespective of disability, needs access to buildings and information. This is time to act!” – Sekerani Kufakwina
“Poor accessibility is a serious violation of our human rights. Accessible Language Now!” – Martha Chimbalo
“When I travel beyond Malawi I feel at home. I am more independent. We need an accessible Malawi now!” – Derrick Kumwenda
“Accessible buildings are essential for equal participation. Accessibility by Universal Design Now!” – Bernadetta Vazi
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