From sitting in a wheelchair to standing up for inclusion - The story of Aya
In 2009, I was involved in a car accident in Amman that left me with a physical disability and the need to use a wheelchair. All of a sudden, I found myself unable to visit any of the places I used to go to because none of them were wheelchair accessible. This was eye opening to me and I started seeing Jordan in a whole new light. I never used to think about accessibility before. In fact, I had barely seen anyone with a disability in Jordan. Every time I wanted to go out, finding a place that was wheelchair accessible was a daunting task. I would have to call every restaurant or business to ask if they had stairs, ramps, or elevators. I’ll let you guess their answers…
I studied international development at UC Berkeley and was an active part of the community, which is constantly fighting for change and justice. This experience really lit a fire in me and I wanted to continue being involved like this in my own country. During my time in the US, I discovered what accessibility is like in more developed countries. Finding information about accessibility online was so much easier in the US, never mind the fact that all businesses must be accessible by law. In contrast, information about accessibility was so hard to find in Jordan. This was what inspired me to set up a website that lists all the places I go to that are accessible, including pictures and descriptions so that people can know exactly how to access these places.
I certainly didn’t expect the reaction and the movement that started to grow following the launch of my website. I honestly thought that Accessible Jordan would just help a few people find places to go to, but it grew into something much larger that I had never imagined. Accessible Jordan soon turned into a whole movement that, as well as providing people with practical help, also raises awareness about the importance of accessibility and encourages more places to become accessible. I realized that if you give people clear solutions and instructions on what to do, many are ready to help a good cause.
By raising awareness on social media, accessibility has become a topic of conversation in the community for the first time. Over the past five months have been able to build a supportive community willing to make a change in Jordan, to make it more accessible and easier to live in for many different segments of society. My next goal is to register Accessible Jordan as a non-profit organization, so I can actually begin working on community projects to improve accessibility in different places and launch an even bigger awareness campaign on the issue. My dream is to see Jordan become the inclusive country and community that I know it can be.
When I had my car accident and began using a wheelchair, everyone around me expected me to stop living my life and stay at home. I made a point of continuing to do everything I used to do and wanted to carry on doing. I didn’t abandon my life goals and dreams because of my confinement to a chair and made sure that everyone around me knew that using a wheelchair would not change me or stand in my way.
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.