Disabilities Act workshop held at N/A Special Needs School
A workshop to sensitize stakeholders and disabled persons themselves about the recently signed Persons with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law by President Bharrat Jagdeo on November 2, 2010.
The workshop was held at the New Amsterdam Special Needs School and was facilitated by the National Council of Organizations of Persons with Disability.
According to Hilton Morris, Public Relations Officer of the National Network of Persons with Disability, the workshop was aimed to inform stakeholders, such as bank managers, post offices, employers, hospital administrators, and regional controllers, about the contents of the Act and the consequences of those stakeholders of not adhering to the Act.
Morris stated that at the end of the workshop, it would have been expected that the participants would be aware of the Act and try to implement it in their work strategies so that persons with disabilities can have more access to buildings, better health services better education system whereby persons with disabilities (PWD) are incorporated into the school system as well as better employment for this category of persons.
He added that he believes society is slowly coming to the realisation that PWD are part of the society.
“It all comes back to the mindset of persons. Presently , we as an organization who are dealing with disabilities, we are trying to change the mindset of persons so that they can see us as not just some special type of people but people who are part of a society and need to have all of the necessary access to society”, Morris stated.
According to the 2002 census, over 50,000 Guyanese have a disability. The Act sets out to guarantee the rights of PWD in employment, education, health, access, independent living, recreation and the electoral process. The Act also sets out the role of the National Commission on Disability and its governance structure.
Morris stated that one of the main clauses in the Act which the organization is pleased with is the part that has to do with providing jobs and training for PWD. “The Act has also that PWD have a right to vote. And that is mandated, Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to take full responsibility that PWD have access polling stations and they can come out to vote whether they provide transportation or proxy vote for them”, he added.
He said that before the passage of the Act, GECOM was not mandated to provide such services for PWD to vote.
One of the facilitators of the session, Tiffany Ward, said they would like PWD to be advocates and information about the Act be clear and widespread among the communities.
During the discourse with the participants, the facilitators said that the national body for PWD is hoping that society improves its mechanisms so that life becomes much easier for PWD. One way in which this would happen would be TV newscasts and programmes to use sign language; this is projected to take place in about 10 years.