My name is Russell. I am 35 years old. I live in Dhaka.

Photographer: Broja Gopal Saha, CDD, Bangladesh

I live in Dhaka and work in an organisation called CDD. CDD is directly involved with establishing facilities for people with disabilities and in advocacy and lobbying for the rights for people with disabilities.

It is very difficult for people with disabilities in an emergency situation. If they have a mobility problem it is very difficult to move around. Families will often leave them in a location which was thought to be safe for that person, and then the rest of the family just leave. Emergencies are very difficult to predict. You never know how it turns out.

The emergency shelters were not built for disability; they do not have special needs features and they are not at all accessible. If people cannot get out from their shelter, they cannot go to places where there is food and medical care. As a result they are deprived of their rights.

When I was growing up with my disability, I did not have problems with my family and the community. But when I completed my education and was looking for a decent job, I faced a problem. I had the qualification and I faced many job interviews, but many of the employers were not interested when they saw my physical condition. My parents were worried about me as I could not get a job.

In Bangladesh, many children with disabilities do not have the chance to go to school. As it is easier to accommodate children with physical disability in school, these children are getting the chance more, but other disabilities like speech and hearing impairment, visual disabilities or intellectual disabilities – those children are not getting the chance because they need some support for their involvement in school.

The teachers are not trained for special needs, like the teaching of children with hearing impairment: they do not know sign language. There is also need for special teaching and learning materials for children with visual impairment, like Braille, tactile etc. The teachers have no idea about these materials.

Education and employment are closely related: low education equals low employment. The environment of the organisations that are offering jobs is not friendly for persons with disabilities; this is also a big obstacle for getting a job. The owners of the organisations who are offering jobs do not feel confident that the person with disabilities can do the job, and as a result, if there is an option, they will choose from others.

It is important in our society that there are more and more examples of people with disabilities working in different sectors, so that people can see that they have the ability and can work like any other person. When family members see this example, they will be encouraged to provide the education option for their children with disabilities, so that they can also become a model in society.

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