Dis­abled com­mu­ni­ties to see ex­pan­sion of ser­vices

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOCIAL - Jodi-Ann Gilpin Gleaner Writer

AN EX­PAN­SION of ser­vices, in­clud­ing le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion, in-depth re­search, and an in­crease in ad­vo­cacy, will be the fo­cus of a new board of man­age­ment es­tab­lished by the Ja­maica Coun­cil for Per­sons Liv­ing with Dis­abil­i­ties (JCPD), in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Min­istry of Labour and So­cial Se­cu­rity.

Chris­tine Hen­dricks, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the JCPD, in an interview with The Gleaner, said the gaps which cur­rently ex­ist, re­quires ur­gent in­ter­ven­tion which is long over­due.

“There is a new board that was ap­pointed by the new govern­ment that started their first meet­ing in July, and started their first work­ing meet­ing in Septem­ber af­ter the sum­mer. They are work­ing in earnest on the new struc­ture of the Ja­maica Coun­cil for Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties be­cause cur­rently, we are just a de­part­ment un­der the Min­istry of Labour and So­cial Se­cu­rity, but the act (dis­abil­i­ties) states that we need to be a statu­tory body,” she de­clared.

“Dis­abil­ity is not the first thing on any­body’s mind, and some­times what is needed is not known. When a com­pany is build­ing or re­fur­bish­ing, they are not think­ing that some­body with a dis­abil­ity is a po­ten­tial cus­tomer, they are not think­ing that one of my staff mem­bers or even them­selves need a space that is bar­rier free. Those are some of the things which cre­ate the gaps – the lack of con­sul­ta­tion, plan­ning for cus­tomers of all shapes and sizes,” she said.

HUGE GAPS

The ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor added: “Gaps are cre­ated as well be­cause some lawyers will say, ‘I can’t bother to talk to some­body who is deaf, I can’t do sign lan­guage.’ When you go to the health cen­tres you have to wait. This ser­vice and the work of the JCPD have be­come nec­es­sary be­cause of these huge gaps due to the fact that per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties were left out of so­ci­ety.”

She used the plat­form to en­cour­age mem­bers of the dis­abled com­mu­nity to be pa­tient, not­ing that though there are not enough vis­i­ble re­sults, there is a lot of ground­work tak­ing place which is crit­i­cal.

“They (Govern­ment) are in the process of help­ing us to work through that tran­si­tion and fi­nal­is­ing the struc­ture. We will now be of­fer­ing ex­panded ser­vices, in­clud­ing le­gal ser­vices, re­search. We will be do­ing more ad­vo­cacy and ad­vis­ing govern­ment on pol­icy where per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties are con­cerned,” Hen­dricks said.

“We will be mon­i­tor­ing the en­vi­ron­ment to see how in­clu­sive it is. We will be in­spect­ing build­ings, do­ing au­dits to en­sure ac­ces­si­bil­ity, and so on. That struc­ture does not ex­ist within the cur­rent de­part­ment. We are ba­si­cally do­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and pro­vid­ing those ba­sic min­i­mal ser­vices,” Hen­dricks told The Gleaner.

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