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  • Chris McMillan

True Cost Of Disability


20th November 2018.

True Cost Of Disability

This month is National Disability Rights Awareness Month, which aims to help address the challenges facing persons with disabilities by removing discriminatory barriers. It is well known that persons with disabilities are often disproportionately poor as a result of a combination of barriers, from getting an education, to finding decent work and participating in civic life. However, having worked in this sector for four years, I have been shocked at the much more subtle, and often overlooked, cost of living barrier which can significantly impact on their quality of life.

In order to live a ‘normal’ and decent life, and have access to opportunities, persons with disabilities have to foot the bill for a number of additional costs not incurred by their able-bodied counterparts. This includes higher medical expenses, personal assistive devices as well as modified transport or housing.

Therefore, although many people with disabilities may appear to live above the poverty line, in reality they don’t have enough money to meet their basic needs and minimum standard of living.

To draw attention to this issue, in line with the ethos of Disability Rights Awareness Month, the SAB Foundation asked three previous recipients of our Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards, to explain the cost of living barrier.

The cost of prosthetics

Michael Stevens is the Operations Manager at Jumping Kids, a beneficiary of the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards 2016, that seeks to provide affordable prosthetic solutions to young South African amputees.

“Considering that without the necessary equipment most prosthetic or wheelchair users are unable to be active, capable members of society, it doesn’t make sense that the cost barrier that allows for this is so big,” Stevens explains.

Michael cites a few examples of these costs, including that a top of the range prosthetic knee can cost between R500 000 and R900 000 with cheaper, mechanical options, that have been around for over 20 years, retailing at over R65 000.

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