By Rabindra Rooplall
“An employer shall not deny a person with a disability, on the basis of the disability, access to opportunities for employment including open employment.” This is according to the new Persons with Disability Act 2010 which was assented on November 2010.
The Disability Act 2010 further states that every person with a disability shall register with the National Commission on Disabilities (NCD). While there are also stipulations that say within ten years of the coming of this Act or a later date 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 daily and special programmes covering events of national significance.
It was recently noted by the Administrator of the National Commission on Disability (NCD), Ms Beverly Pile, that a young wheelchair-bound woman was able to use the Act to ensure that she was given a judicial ear.
“Because she was in a wheelchair she could not get into the courtroom and so the magistrate came down to her…and she was heard.” This development represents the power of the new Act, Pile said; while with its implementation differently-able persons with varying levels of disabilities have rights catering to their respective challenges under the law.
The Disability Act 2010 also states that where persons with disabilities are unable to vote independently they shall be allowed assistance by another person of their choice in voting at national and local government elections.
It was also noted that the commission may take appropriate legal action where the commission believes that a person, entity or establishment is engaged in a practice which is discriminatory under this Act.
In addition, within five years of the coming into operation of the Act, 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.
According to Ms Pile, there will be more scope for employment, education, recreations and even transportation for persons living with disabilities under the new Act.
At the moment, Pile disclosed, the National Commission on Disability is tasked with sensitising the general public to ensure that not only the target groups are the ones informed about the new legislation that exists.
“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.”
Pile noted that the first quarter of this year will see the Commission devoting much attention to the compliance of the Act even as its existence is accentuated through workshops, meetings, panel discussions and other public fora.
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 organisation.
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