Ted Kennedy Jr, the American lawyer-politician and son of the late Senator Edward M Kennedy, has emphasised global collaboration among organisations that work for disability inclusion.
“Global disability community can hang together to organise and model our movement like this other movement saying it is not a person's physical or mental condition that creates the disability,” he said, speaking at an event on the rights of challenged people at the EMK Center in Dhaka on Tuesday.
“It is societal attitudes about disability that really create the disability,” said the chair of the Board of the American Association of People with Disabilities in his lecture highlighting that the inclusion of people with disabilities is a right, not a privilege.
The staunch advocate for persons with disabilities recalled his own struggle as he was speaking to representatives of the country’s disability organisations and young people.
“I lost my leg when I was 12 and that instantaneously made me a member of the disability community.
“And you know at the time when the doctors told me that they were going to have to remove part of my leg, I thought that my life was over.”
He had the same prejudices and attitudes of average people towards disability and then he changed the course to advocacy for these marginalised people, he added.
“I have worked so hard now to dispel a little did I know that that became the defining moment of my life. Because from that moment on I became a lawyer, I worked hard to advance.”
A paediatric bone cancer survivor and amputee, Ted continues to be an active leader in the movement to expand opportunities for persons with disabilities.
He said the number of people with disabilities is not marginal but rather “a billion people with disabilities living around the world”.
“The issue touches nearly every family in America, every family in Bangladesh.”
Ted urged to ensure rights for every person with a disability and their access to independent jobs and living.
“Companies that are the leaders in the Disability Equality Index are four times more likely to outperform their peers in terms of total shareholder return over time,” he said, urging companies to recruit more people with disabilities.
He advised to include disability in the US economic aid programmes all over the world.
The former member of the Connecticut State Senate, along with his family, is currently on a week-long visit from Oct 29 to Nov 5 to mark the 50th anniversary of US-Bangladesh relations.