Nagaland: ‘Church must do more to promote disability inclusion’

State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Diethono Nakhro, speaking at the Global Accessibility Awareness Day held at Hotel Japfü, Kohima, on May 16. (Morung Photo)

State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Diethono Nakhro, speaking at the Global Accessibility Awareness Day held at Hotel Japfü, Kohima, on May 16. (Morung Photo)

Morung Express News
Kohima | May 18

State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), Diethono Nakhro stated that the Church can do better to promote disability inclusion, given its influence on the masses.

Speaking at the Global Accessibility Awareness Day held at Hotel Japfü, Kohima under the theme ‘Accessibility in the church,’ Nakhro said, “With the authority and influence it has, the church has the potential to change attitudes and perceptions about disability, educate the masses on inclusion and acceptance and encourage people with disabilities.”

Representative from various churches in Kohima attended the programme. 

According to her, the church is not doing enough. She held that it can do better to serve the disability community, while also observing that the church would be, unintentionally, excluding people with disabilities due to a lack of awareness and sensitization.

Highlighting the critical role that churches can play in educating both the disability and non-disability communities, she stressed the need for churches to create environments where individuals with different abilities are not discriminated against or segregated and where the feeling of ‘otherness’ typically associated with disability is addressed.

“The church can become a role model for the wider society making our society more sensitive and inclusive in all aspects of life,” she said, strongly asserting that the churches must step up in this role.

Reiterating the neglect of the disability sector in the state, Nakhro pointed out that stigma and discrimination have led to “overprotective” parents, preventing children with disabilities from socialising and integrating into the community. 

Owing to the perceived neglect, she noted that there was little conversation about disability, resulting in poor awareness and understanding of the needs and rights of people with disabilities, even within the church. “We have many barriers to break when it comes to disability,” she said. 

While stating that progress, though slow, is being made, she added, “We are still only scratching the surface and there is a long way to go in addressing disability matters.”

The State Commissioner also suggested strategies like sponsoring training of sign language interpreters, separate accessible toilets, grab bars etc, which the churches can adopt to create a more inclusive environment.

The Global Accessibility Awareness Day, originally scheduled on May 16, was postponed to May 18. It was organised by the Nagaland State Disability Forum and supported by the office of the State Commissioner for PwDs.