The purpose of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, along with various challenges, may hinder their full and effective participation in the society on an equal basis with others. The Convention notes that the term “persons with disabilities” includes all those with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory disabilities that may prevent them, when dealing with various challenges, from participating in the society on an equal basis with others. The convention established several basic principles, the most important of which are: non-discrimination, equal opportunities, equality, ensuring their right to full and effective participation and inclusion in the society, respecting differences and accepting them as part of human diversity and human nature, in addition to the right to education, work and receiving health care and other rights guaranteed in relevant international covenants and conventions. One of the most important articles mentioned in the Convention is Article (11) which states that: "State Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters."
Based on these principles, the state parties pledged to take all legislative, administrative and other measures, and implement them to the fullest extent. It is known that the first action taken in the event of an emergency was the complete closure of schools, universities and educational institutes of all kinds, including rehabilitation and education centers for people with special needs, including requesting all people to comply with quarantine to combat and limit the spread of the Coronavirus COVID 19 pandemic.
While the world is facing the pandemic, students face the problem of educational institutions' suspension such as schools, universities, educational institutes, etc. Against this new reality, these private and official institutions have devised various ways to finish as much as possible of the curricula scheduled for this year and the “idea of distance learning” emerged through available technologies and possible media platforms such as the Internet and TV educational programs. In the context of these measures and procedures, there was a lack of including people with disabilities in these measures at a time when all efforts must be focused and concerted during these difficult circumstances on giving them the utmost attention through appropriate measures that meet their needs. There is a complete lack of these measures, where people with disabilities are left to their families to deal with them.
People with special needs normally need to continuously have rehabilitation programs such as physical, sensory, motor, occupational, speech therapy, as well as educational programs that enable them to reduce or overcome the effects of disability at specialized rehabilitation centers by specialists, and in light of Coronavirus COVID 19 and the accompanying quarantine and complete closure of all these institutions and centers, they have been deprived of their essential needs and basic rights that secure their ability to continue and overcome difficulties to integrate into the society.
Based on the principle of equal opportunities and equality among all members of the society enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it must be emphasized that all relevant authorities should make adequate efforts to provide the necessary programs for people with special needs in parallel with the rest of the society and provide them with the opportunity they need and give them a sufficient space to receive their educational and qualification programs based on their needs and abilities.
The solutions offered for people with special needs are available and simple and there are many of them at the same time. They do not require a lot of efforts or money to be implemented, but they need a serious and sincere human will and vision in dealing with everything related to public affairs by governments and relevant departments. This is possible through cooperation and coordination between competent departments and specialists at educational and rehabilitation bodies with the participation of people with special needs themselves, which could provide the required programs and give a real opportunity for this group in the society to obtain their basic rights.
- What prevents educational or online TV programs or episodes from offering their services to the blind, deaf, or dumb, like they do with others?!
- What prevents the provision of counseling and awareness programs to all members of the society about how to provide appropriate care and prevention for people with special needs in their places of residence, including those with weak immunity and in need of special care and attention?!
- What prevents the existence of programs to train families and people with special needs to help them attend part of their necessary rehabilitation programs?!
This is to name a few, and certainly when concerted efforts by stakeholders are taken, the best formula for presenting these programs will be reached, but the biggest bet is on awareness and having a sincere will.
In conclusion, it must be emphasized that civilization and progress are measured by how much we care about people with special needs and their families. Throughout the years, mankind with its delinquency towards evil and caring for materialistic life has proved a catastrophic failure at its first serious and difficult test, as it was unable to save humanity in this difficult time. It is time to set a new scale of priorities based on more ethical and humanitarian criteria. It has been proven beyond doubt that attempts to save human life has been on professionals, science and scholars, neither weapons of any kind benefited, nor did suppression prove its usefulness. Nothing will save mankind but returning to our own humanity.