PET is mobility, but needs include accessibility and acceptability

PETs built since 1-1-14 1292

*** I am now involved in a project that excites me, and should interest
the readers. One of the goals of PET International is to promote not only
mobility, but also accessibility and acceptability.

Mobility alone has limited value unless those two attributes are added. But
we need models to test and prove that concept. Since Rainbow Network in
poverty-stricken rural Nicaragua is a project that has excellent management
and results, we asked the question, “What would it look like if every
leg-handicapped person in the geographic area of Rainbow Network had
mobility, accessibility and acceptability?

A house to house census is being made to determine the need. We have been
shipping PETs there for several years, and our last container to them
included 75 standard wheelchairs. Making the country physically mobile will
be relatively simple. The slow and difficult part will be changing culture
and attitudes about accessibility and acceptability. How does one do that?

In my reading I have found that a few NGOs were using “soap opera drama”
type programs to change social attitudes, as well as comic type books.

The rural area served by Rainbow has no media coverage, and practical
literacy rates are low. The younger generation, under Rainbow’s help, has
greatly increased literacy rates and high school graduations. How do we
inform those 45,000 persons about the project so they will understand it and
take ownership of it?

We are developing a handout that will inform the folks using short
story-telling and graphic drawings. One story, for example, will be about
“Anita” who got polio at age two, and received a child sized PET at age 4.
But when she went to school, she could not get in because of the steps. In
that short story, with an illustration of her going up the ramp in her PET,
we emphasize the child sized PET, education, and the need for ramps.

We began by presenting the concept to the proper folks in the Rainbow
Network. When I was in Nicaragua a week ago it was presented to the staff
and workers there. Support was strong.

Today I am meeting with the Arts Department of the U. of Missouri to see
what help they can offer with the drawings.

Those of us in the USA remember when we began such a process 45 or so
years ago. I worked especially with the churches that were almost
universally inaccessible.

Will it work in Nicaragua? We are trying.

*** International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 3 December (excerpt
from the United Nations’ website)

2014 theme . <>
Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology

This year the International Day of Persons with Disabilities will focus on
the role of technology in:

– Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Responses
– Creating Enabling Working Environments
– Disability-Inclusive Sustainable Development Goals

The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was
proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3.
The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability
issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of
persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to
be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect
of political, social, economic and cultural life.

See full page at this link:


Enough is a feast.” – Anon.

Mel West

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