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‘Put Words into Action!’

Accessibility Challenges Persist for Malawians with Disabilities Despite Passing of Disability Act

Citizens with disabilities continue to face accessibility challenges despite the passing of the Malawi Disability Act of 2012. DJP Fellow Julie-Marie Chibekete interviews Sekerani Kufawani, Derrick Kumwenda, Bernadetta Vazi, and Martha Chambalo, a group of disability advocates, government workers, and teachers. They speak about the ongoing issue of inaccessible public infrastructure and steps the Malawian government must take to fully realize the Malawi Disability Act. *Video includes audio descriptions. *Read along by clicking the cc button on your YouTube player.

Photo of Julie-Marie Chibekete.

Filmmaker: Julie-Marie Chibekete

Julie-Marie Chibekete is an active member of the Spinal injuries Association of Malawi (SIAM). She has over ten years’ experience in community development and humanitarian work. Inspired by the struggles people in various communities go through to access basic needs, she has a passion for helping communities identify underlying causes of vulnerability and to realize equity in access. Chibekete says her spinal injury motivated her to make sure that members of the disability community are aware of and actively take part in utilizing their potential in local development initiatives. 

SIAM is an association mandated to advocate for the needs and interests of disabled people living with spinal injuries so they can actively participate in society. Chibekete ensures the organization's goals are attained through peer support and other initiatives. #NoInclusionWithSelf-Exclusion.

Behind the scenes

DJP Fellow Julie-Marie Chibekete wanted to make sure “Put Words into Action!” was as accessible as possible. She worked with Richard Sailes, a Malawian sign language interpreter, to do so: … If you are talking of being inclusive, you also have to demonstrate. You also have to appreciate the challenges … So, I was just so excited.” “Put Words into Action!” marked the first time Julie-Marie Chibekete worked with a sign language interpreter. According to Chibekete, Sailes was dedicated to accessibility as well. Overall, Chibekete enjoyed their collaborative effort. “It was worth it … and I’m sure people will like it.” 

Chibekete, a DJP fellow with a spinal cord injury who uses a wheelchair, experienced challenges shooting footage for her film. She found it difficult to do camera movements like pans and zooms. She shot footage of ATMs inside a moving car and asked others for help to work through production obstacles. Shooting footage inside a car came with its own issues. She could not move to desired positions to acquire preferred shots. Additionally, Chibekete found it difficult to ask others for help shooting newly constructed buildings that were inaccessible themselves. Her experiences highlight the need for full accessibility not only in public infrastructure but in all facets of life, including filmmaking. The DJP team is now working on building a camera mount for her wheelchair. “Put Words into Action!” is available to watch now.


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