Original Research

How did South Africans with disabilities experience COVID-19? Results of an online survey

Mary Wickenden, Tim G.B. Hart, Stephen J. Thompson, Yul D. Davids, Mercy Ngungu
African Journal of Disability | Vol 12 | a1119 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v12i0.1119 | © 2023 Mary Wickenden, Tim G.B. Hart, Stephen J. Thompson, Yul D. Davids, Mercy Ngungu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 August 2022 | Published: 09 February 2023

About the author(s)

Mary Wickenden, Participation, Inclusion and Social Change Cluster, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, United Kingdom
Tim G.B. Hart, Developmental, Capable and Ethical State Research Division, Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa; and Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Stephen J. Thompson, Participation, Inclusion and Social Change Cluster, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, United Kingdom
Yul D. Davids, Developmental, Capable and Ethical State Research Division, Human Sciences Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa
Mercy Ngungu, Impact Centre Research Division, Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Background: People with disabilities are a large, disadvantaged minority, comprising approximately 12% of the population. The South African government has ratified international and regional disability treaties but deals with disability rights within general anti-discrimination legislation. There are no specific frameworks to monitor justice for people with disabilities. The study aims to inform further development of disability inclusive mechanisms relating to crises including pandemics.

Objectives: This study explored the perceptions of South Africans with disabilities, to understand their experiences during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), focussing on socioeconomic, well-being and human rights aspects.

Method: An online survey tool generated quantitative and qualitative data. Widespread publicity and broad recruitment were achieved through project partners networks. Participants responded via mobile phone and/or online platforms.

Results: Nearly 2000 people responded, representing different genders, impairments, races, socio-economic status, education and ages. Findings include: (1) negative economic and emotional impacts, (2) a lack of inclusive and accessible information, (3) reduced access to services, (4) uncertainty about government and non-government agencies’ support and (5)exacerbation of pre-existing disadvantages. These findings echo international predictions of COVID-19 disproportionally impacting people with disabilities.

Conclusion: The evidence reveals that people with disabilities in South Africa experienced many negative impacts of the pandemic. Strategies to control the virus largely ignored attending to human rights and socioeconomic well-being of this marginalised group.

Contribution: The evidence will inform the development of the national monitoring framework, recognised by the South African Government and emphasised by the United Nations as necessary to ensure the realisation of the rights of people with disabilities during future crises including pandemics.


Keywords

South Africa; disability; COVID-19; rights; socio-economic; survey; online.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

Metrics

Total abstract views: 2190
Total article views: 1626

 

Crossref Citations

1. The lived experience of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic on Twitter: Content analysis
Marlon I. Diaz, Richard J. Medford, Christoph U. Lehmann, Carolyn Petersen
DIGITAL HEALTH  vol: 9  year: 2023  
doi: 10.1177/20552076231182794