On December 15, ASEAN Disability Forum (ADF) partner in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Disability Mainstreaming Advisory Service (DMAS) Center held a virtual public awareness campaign on the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Enabling Masterplan). The Chair of DMAS Center, Mr. Thongchanh Inthachak, delivered welcoming remarks accompanied by the Chairman of ADF, Mr. Puay Tiak Lim, and First Secretary of Education and Governance of the Embassy of Australia for Lao PDR, Ms. Anna Dyason. The Head of the National Committee for Disability and Elderly (NCDE), Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, and Lao PDR representative to Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) Sisavath Khomphone delivered the keynote speech at the event. DMAS’ virtual campaign engaged government officials including representatives from the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Education and Sports.

The campaign consisted of four-panel sessions with four different topics related to priority areas within DMAS policy platform including inclusive education, accessible built environment, quality and inclusive health care and inclusive employment. The first panel on inclusive education featured speakers from the United Nations Development Program and Lao PDR representative to SOMSWD. The second panel discussed access to health care for persons with disabilities for COVID-19 patients. Speakers for the second panel included the Director of the Center of Medical and Rehabilitation at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Thongphet Sithivanh, and Program Manager of Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), Ms. Metta Thippawong. The third panel was on disability employment in Lao PDR with a representative from the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Mr. Seangaloun Luanglath, and Lao Disabled People’s Association (LDPA), Mr. Soukthavisone Khounsiparseurth. The last panel discussed inclusive education and online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic with the Vice Head of Inclusive Education Division of the National University of Laos and the Ministry of Education and Sports, Mr. Bounyod Boupha, and the Director of the Association for Autism, Ms. Viengsam Indavong.

DMAS Center organized quizzes using the Zoom poll feature to make the campaign engaging. For each panel, DMAS arranged the opportunity for persons with disabilities to share stories about their personal experiences. Ms. Lapkeo Samchanmavong shared her experience as a person with a disability who was positive with COVID. Ms. Litsamay shared challenges due to losing her job from COVID-19 and Mr. Khamata Sengmay highlighted the challenges of online learning as a person with a visual disability. DMAS Center also featured musical performances by persons with disabilities. A total of 100 people participated in this virtual campaign event.

About Author