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Training ourselves to accept people with special needs in Bahrain

By Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood

The proposed Shura Council debate that seeks to open doors for the differently abled to find more avenues of productivity and self-respect is a big step towards integration of people with disabilities into the matrix of Bahrain’s development.

The Kingdom has many policies and rules that make life easier for differently-abled people: ramps in public places, reserved seating and parking close to entrances and the rule that companies with 50 or more people should reserve at least 2% of its jobs for people with disabilities.
Now the Shura Council is seeking to increase this percentage by almost 100% and also improve training and job matches so that in the case of people with disabilities, their special needs are matched to the work in hand.
It is high time we looked at this matter because in the past decade, there have been many advances in technology to support the special needs of people and help them to contribute to society in a more meaningful way.
People with Down Syndrome, for example, are increasingly living longer and with better overall health.This means they are more open to training and employability.
People with mobility issues have many motorised options to get around and since office jobs are so much about knowledge management in front of a computer screen today, why not open new positions for differently abled persons with mobility issues?
It does require a new approach, though. Office spaces a public transport need to be recalibrated to meet the needs of the differently-abled.
In some cases, offices need to invest in training and re-programming mindsets – not of the differently abled but of the so-called ‘normal’ staff who may need time to accept new ways of working with their special colleagues and welcoming their ideas and perspectives.
I have only one suggestion: while the Shura looks at the needs and rights of the differently abled, can we also look at the situation of children with special needs in the expat communities?
Many of them are forced to relocate to their home countries after the reach age 18 because they are no longer considered dependents.
This is breaking up families. Let us at least remove the dependency cap for these special people in our midst.


Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-inChief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism