Physically challenged persons can be assisted to vote – Disability Act 2010
Physically challenged persons who are unable to vote independently would be allowed assistance by another person of their choice in voting at the National and Regional Elections, according to the Disability Act 2010.
Presently the National Commission on Disability is tasked with sensitising the general public to the new legislation.
The Disability Act, which was assented to by President Bharrat Jagdeo on November 2, last year has enacted legislations to empower disable persons.
According to the Act, within five years of its implementation, the Central Housing and Planning Authority shall publish and enforce building codes and guidelines for the construction and renovation of buildings, institutions, establishments, or public utilities in order to allow barrier-free access to persons with disabilities.
The Disability Act 2010 further states that every person with a disability shall register with the National Commission on Disabilities (NCD). There are also stipulations which states that within 10 years of the implementation of this Act or a later date that the Minister may prescribe, the person in charge of every national television station shall provide a sign language inset or subtitles in at least one newscast programme and special programmes covering events of national significance.
It was also noted that the Commission may take appropriate legal action where it believes that a person, entity or establishment is engaged in a practice which is discriminatory under this Act. “An employer shall not deny a person with a disability, on the basis of the disability, access to opportunities for employment including open employment.”
However, statistics revealed that 40 per cent of unemployed persons with disabilities have lost their job after becoming incapacitated, and nine per cent of unemployed persons with disabilities are qualified, skilled and able to work.
“The entire public, even those who do not have disabilities, business owners, students, everybody has to know…We will also have to monitor and assess the adherence to this Act to ensure that it is recognised in every part of this country. This Act is not for Georgetown alone; it is for the entire country.” Administrator of the National Commission on Disability (NCD), Ms Beverly Pile previously said.
According to the NCD, many do not have access to education and employment and this leads to social and economic exclusion. The cost of a disability, it was noted, has three components: the direct cost of treatment (including travel and access), indirect costs to those who are not directly affected and the opportunity costs (education, employment etc)
The NCD disclosed that persons with disabilities frequently cited difficulties caused by financial (29%) and transportation (23%) constraints. Negative attitudes would also appear to create problems; 14% reported the attitudes of other pupils, and 12% that the attitudes of staff, made it difficult for them to participate, whilst issues associated with accessibility, exclusion and discrimination prevent children with disabilities from fully participating in education.
According to the NCD, persons with disabilities in many cases have limited access, or are totally excluded, from participation in social and recreational activities, while it was noted that a level of social participation occurs naturally within education or employment which is traditionally difficult to access. Societal attitudes and perceptions, it was stressed, can create additional barriers to social participation.
The Commission disclosed that due to the stigma associated with disability, social interaction is often limited. Persons with disabilities, the survey revealed, are often restricted to their homes and are rarely seen in public.
According to the United Nations, one person in 20 has a disability. More than three out of four of these live in a developing country.
The Commission stressed that disability does not just affect the individual, but impacts on the whole family.
According to the new Disability Act 2010, the Commission shall consist of 12 members appointed by the President; five members, one nominated by and from each of the Ministries with responsibility for Health; Education; Labour; Human Services and Social Security and Foreign Affairs.
In addition, three members, two of whom are persons with disabilities nominated by and from a non-governmental organization shall also be a part of the Commission.