Images of this beach sign have been circulating on social media platforms, making the online community come alive with support for the UAE’s move to stop referring to individuals as ‘disabled’, and instead call them ‘people of determination’. This effort to change the vocabulary that we use is part of a bigger plan launched by the Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to make the UAE more accessible to all of its citizens and visitors. Through a series of positive and proactive reforms, he is hoping to make the society more inclusive with 2020 as the target for the city of Dubai to become fully accessible to the differently-abled.
The Sheikh’s six-part plan targets all areas of society; health and rehabilitation, education, employment, mobility, social protection and family empowerment, and public life and sports; seeking to comprehensively improve the lives of the differently-abled and their families by removing some of their biggest societal obstacles. One of the clear steps that has been made is the appointment of an individual dedicated to providing customer service support for the differently-abled within every single government service organization. These individuals will hold the fantastic title: ‘Service Officers for People of Determination’.
In his announcement to the Ministry of Community Development last month, the Sheikh made it clear that the term ‘disability’ implies “the inability to make progress and achievement,” stating that this doesn’t apply as “the achievements that people of determination have made in various spheres over the past years are proof that determination and strong will can do the impossible and encourage people to counter challenges and difficult circumstances while firmly achieving their goals.”
As a magazine that has always vocally rejected the term ‘disabled’, we here at What Women Want applaud the Sheikh for his initiative and call on Egypt to follow suit. It is about time that we prioritize making this country more accessible to everyone, especially the incredible ‘People of Determination’.