The Reality of People of Determination in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is home to around 20,000 People of Determination (POD ), both nationals and residents. Neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disability, and specific learning disorders are among the most common disabilities in the emirate. POD also faces a number of challenges resulting from physical, communication, attitudinal , and organizational barriers that exist in society. Among these challenges are the lack of comprehensive and integrated educational, social and health care systems, which hinders the access of POD and their families to quality services that meet their individual and varied needs at reasonable prices.
When it comes to education, students of determination lack equal and fair opportunities to access quality inclusive education in mainstream schools with comprehensive support system including an enabling school and classroom environment, qualified school personnel, support services ,awareness , accredited alternative educational pathways and curricula including vocational and technical qualifications that ensure the availability of options and alternatives that meet different needs and mechanisms and standards to support students’ transition through different educational levels and systems.
As for employment, POD have limited access to employment opportunities in an open work environment due to a number of factors: employers have insufficient incentives and support to hire POD and retain them, shortage of quality vocational education, training and rehabilitation opportunities and program during pre and post work placement to enhance POD skills and readiness to transition to work as well the lack of comprehensive inclusive employment policy with enforcement mechanism and clear roles and responsibilities among relevant entities .
POD also face barriers when it comes to community participation in public life such as arts, culture, reaction, sports and volunteering as a result of lack of an accessible environment including built environment, transportations, housing, products, programs, services and information.
Additionally, People of Determination and their families incur exorbitant costs as a result of disability, which doesn’t meet the requirements of their standard of living and quality of life.
The Role of People of Determination
The Strategy emphasizes the principle of leadership, Participation and representation of POD in line with principle of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities “Nothing for us without us” and therefore POD are represented and have active participation in each of the strategy taskforces as individuals as well as associations that represent POD.