KUCHING: Sixty papers covering a range of topics on disability are presented during the three-day international conference ‘Disability Studies: Heading in the Right(s) Direction?’ which ends tomorrow.
They include promoting rights through legislation and policy, employment and sustainable livelihood, education, teaching and learning for students with disabilities, community participation and inclusion as well as media and community awareness.
Renowned speakers from Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Malaysia will present their papers and participate in the workshops.
They include Senator Bathmavathi Krishnan who is with the National Disability Council, Dr Russel Shuttleworth from Deakin University Australia, Dr Siti Hawa Abdullah of Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, Prof Lesley Chenoweth who is a leading social worker and disability scholar from Griffith University of Australia, Francis Johen Adam of Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and Peter Tan, a disability advocate and columnist.
Organised by the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s (Unimas) Centre of Excellence for Disability Studies and Faculty of Social Sciences, the conference provides a platform for speakers and participants to examine the current policy and research, and to promote and protect the rights of disabled persons as outlined in the United Nations Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
Vice chancellor of Unimas Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi said the university had been taking the lead within Malaysia to promote disability studies since 2011.
“Disability has always been part of the human condition but it is only in recent years that it has become a topic of research interest and embedded in academic curriculum.”
Kadim was pleased the research and development activities run by the Unimas Centre were geared towards responding to the needs and aspiration of the people with disabilities as well as to engage the wider community to influence policy and practices for an inclusive society.
He added the university was also in the midst of setting up a taskforce to make itself a model of an inclusive place of learning and employment.
Unimas last hosted the conference in 2010. At least 120 participants including representatives from the government, Society of the Blind Malaysia, Sarawak Society of Disabled Persons, Perkata Special School and community-based rehabilitation centre (PDK) are attending the conference.