Name of the activity: Disabilities Awareness Campaign

Country/NMO: China – Hong Kong (AMSAHK)

Program: Ethics & Human Rights in Health

 

Contact information: [email protected]

Type of the activity: Advocacy

 

General description:

The Disabilities Awareness Campaign aims to promote issues surrounding the rights for the disabled for medical students as well as to the larger local community to advocate for equality. There are two aspects of this project: a social media campaign and a Disabilities Experience Day event.

The former comprises of a social experiment video as well as infographics of “dos” and “don’ts” when interacting with people with various disabilities. The social experiment video, showing how members of the public react when wheelchair users drop their wallet and cannot retrieve it, aims to convey local attitudes towards wheelchair users and how they may try to assist, which is then followed up by suggestions and things to avoid in our infographics.

The Disabilities Experience Day event will allow participants, including medical students, to experience the real challenges that wheelchair users face, in the hope that they will be able to develop greater understanding and empathy, especially for future healthcare professionals as they care for individuals with disabilities.

Focus area:

Rights for the disabled

Problem statement:

This is the second year that the Standing Committee on Human Rights (SCORP) of the Asian Medical Students’ Association Hong Kong (AMSAHK) has held our Disabilities Awareness Campaign. Last year, in 2016, we held it at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and this year, at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

People with disabilities make up 7.4% of the Hong Kong population, among those who are also of working age, only 39.1% are economically active. Under the Disability Allowance Scheme, a monthly allowance of $1650 to $3300 can be received by those who experience disability, however, this is extremely insufficient. From a health aspect, these individuals are twice as likely to find healthcare providers’ skills, resources, and facilities inadequate to their needs, three times as likely to be denied healthcare, and four times as likely to be treated badly in their healthcare system. Aside from these serious financial and health setbacks, there are great social issues, discrimination, and stigma surrounding those who with disabilities, which we hoped to address in the social media aspect of our campaign. Furthermore, the lack of accessibility in Hong Kong is very much felt, especially by wheelchair users, which is what our Disabilities Experience Day educational event aimed to promote.

The purpose of this event was to understand, first-hand, the challenges of accessibility that those experiencing other disabilities face in Hong Kong. Hong Kong prides itself on being extremely efficient and convenient, but is it really so, especially for individuals with disabilities?

Target groups and beneficiaries:

Our target group is university students, including medical ones, in Hong Kong, to whom we hope to educate and promote rights for the disabled in terms of issues regarding accessibility, so that they can also benefit as beneficiaries in the future. As future healthcare professionals, it is crucial that medical students understand the current underlying issues that people with disabilities face: aside from the obvious healthcare hurdles, there are also great issues surrounding accessibility in the city — from public transportation to access to facilities. We hope that this understanding will allow them to better advocate for advancements in rights for the disabled — whether it be in a healthcare setting with better provision of care that is tailored to their needs or from a general perspective in working towards a barrier-free environment.

We have also contacted a government district representative to promote our project, and they have been interested in our findings, which we have since sent to them. Thus, we hope that another target group for this project will be national policymakers, since the government has a similar ongoing initiative, “Walking with Wheels” to improve Hong Kong’s landscape for greater wheelchair accessibility. We will be following up with them soon.

Objectives and indicators of success:

– Promote the prevalence of disabilities within the local and greater community and the related issues pertaining to human rights
– Encourage proper interaction between participants and individuals with various types of disabilities, particularly when providing assistance
– Enable participants to understand the challenges of accessibility that individuals with disabilities face, particularly pertaining to wheelchair users
– Advocate for effective changes in the local infrastructure to overcome some of the challenges that wheelchair users face
– Enable medical students and future healthcare professionals to better consider the physical and emotional needs of individuals with disabilities.

Methodology:

From our social media campaign, we will aim to promote awareness on the pertinent human rights issues relating to disabilities, particularly on the topics of accessibility, inclusivity, acceptance and discrimination. We will also propose various “dos and don’ts” when interacting with people with various types of disabilities.
To experience first-hand the challenges of accessibility, participants will perform daily tasks on a wheelchair around popular destinations in Hong Kong as part of the Disabilities Experience Day. We will also invite a local district representative, and will be working with them to push for infrastructural changes in the community.
Finally, our sharing session with Hong Kong’s first doctor who is also a wheelchair user will enable participants to better understand the real issues that wheelchair users, and in a more general sense individuals with disabilities, face, as well as how these hurdles are overcome.

Plans for evaluation:

We have two ways in which to evaluate our activity. First, we held both an introductory session and debriefing session before and after our Disabilities Experience Day event. During the introductory session, we had participants think about and briefly discuss some of their expectations for the day. After the event, we discussed the problems faced by each and every group/route, as well as some of the discrepancies between their initial expectations and actual observations. We felt that this was a meaningful way to share and understand the wide range of obstacles that the groups faced. Second, as a more objective way to evaluate our activity and whether it had made a lasting impact on our participants, we sent out a post-event online survey for them to rate and comment on the routes as well as any improvements for the event on a whole.