Breaking the Barriers: Ghanaians’ Perspectives about the Social Model

Augustina Naami


Purpose: The social model of disability emphasises the identification and removal of barriers to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream society. The study examines issues associated with the exclusion of  women with physical disabilities in Tamale, Ghana, and makes recommendations for the effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities, especially the women, in society.

Method: Data was gathered through in-depth individual interviews and focus group discussions. Purposive and snowball sampling were used to recruit 10 women with physical disabilities for the in-depth interviews. Purposive sampling was also used to recruit 14 representatives from government and civil society organisations for 2 multi-organisational focus groups. Using open coding and line-by-line analysis, themes and categories were identified. Themes that emerged from the focus groups and from the individual interviews were compared and contrasted to arrive at conclusions about the participation of women with physical disabilities in mainstream society.

Results: Study participants identified barriers (attitudinal, institutional, architectural, transportation, and information) and suggested methods to eradicate them and foster inclusion. At the same time they felt that it was equally important to change certain attitudes of persons with disabilities (ignorance about available resources, opportunities and potential, low levels of self-confidence, and negative reactions to societal attitudes) which contribute to their exclusion from society.

Conclusion: Advocacy interventions are recommended, which include public education, building relationships and mobilising the public for advocacy campaigns. Decision-makers need to be persuaded to make additional policies and/or enforce existing ones, to promote the inclusion and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society.


Persons with disabilities; disability rights; barriers; exclusion; inclusion; employment

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