How does a person understand Human Rights? Seems an easy question, but it’s not. Given as a question in a postgraduate course in Inclusive Education, offered me the stimulus to search my mind to find out how I perceive it. It was some food for thought in other words. Huge bibliography, millions of webpages, tons of ink, but how each one understands this question is quite subjective.
Well, my views could go with the relevant Greek Law and the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, a document born in 1948 from the flames of WWII.
In a nutshell, the Greek legislation, a country which can boast about its democratic background, states that all people are equal against law, have the same rights as much as responsibilities, the right to develop their personality free (most important point for me), and participate in the social, financial and political life of the country. It would be tiring to present more details. The way I receive it, from the moment all people are equal, I expect that every individual should consider the rest equal, behave like this and respect like this. As a result, people who may experience any kind of difficulty or impairment, should be treated at least equally and be given all the necessary support for this. I cannot imagine anyone excluded from this right. Even in prison, a criminal has the same rights as the rest. You cannot deprive them of the right to have food or a proper accommodation. Unfortunately, not everyone shares this, so different kinds of exclusion, from racism to the elimination of a child facing a long-term illness in a small society (for instance their school) are common. I suppose, we, as teachers and students who wish to expand their knowledge on Inclusive Education, should be pioneers to the opposite direction, eliminators of exclusion. Easy as it may seem in theory, it may raise issues and obstacles in practice. The support provided, from medical to technical, the facilities in public places or means of transportation, even the language we use may contain terms that could make a human feel they are not equal. The point is to work more on this direction, in order to facilitate the life of individuals who have been facing disabilities or learning difficulties, build up their confidence and persuade them they are not alone, they are equal, useful and integrated members of the society.
Picture: Lisa is a visually impaired internationally admired painter, who not only learned to paint after losing her sight, but she wrote a book about it. Her inspiring use of color and her ability to tell which color she is using only by feeling the texture of the paint are just two remarkable features of her story.