A number of visually impaired as well as sighted persons turned up yesterday to participate in a “Chain of Canes” initiative around Parliament Building in an effort to raise awareness of disability rights and also to issue a call for Government officials to enact the long overdue implementation of the Persons with Disability Act 2010.
According to Jermonica Walcott, a participant in the activity, she was elated over the passing of the Persons with Disability Act 2010 in November, last, as she explained that this event was a way in which appreciation could be shown for such a development.
The visually impaired woman who said that she suffers from ‘low vision’ stated, “We’re linking canes, the blind, impaired, a bit disabled…during this culmination of Blind Awareness Month, with hopes that persons from all social strata pay attention and learn to respect us, for instance such as when we try to cross the roads, board public transportation and change money… If they assist us by telling us which denomination the note is when they give us, we can fold it in a certain way in which we can remember…”
She added that she was an athlete in her younger days and a well-known Theatre Guild actress while emphasising that the blind and visually impaired society has a large number in population, and many of those persons are highly qualified, and have made astounding contributions to society, before they suffered these ailments.
Lynden Stewart, commonly known by Calypso fans as ‘The Mighty Smoker’, told Kaieteur News that he hopes that the event will sensitize the public about the problems blind persons like himself, faces on a daily basis, such as accessing transportation, securing employment and even proper education.
He said ‘I want them (the members of the public) to know what we can do and cannot do, what they can help us with and make a difference”.
Chairman of the Planning Committee for the Blindness Awareness Month, Ganesh Singh, explained that “this chain of canes for change is a way in which persons who suffer from disabilities can be linked with each other and promote the advocacy of awareness among the public”.
He said that with this activity it is hoped that there will be an implementation of the contents of the Persons with Disability Act 2010 and that the Ministry of Labour will ensure that there are opportunities for these persons in the employment arena. This will boost the organizations’ call for having equal access to skills training and job opportunities.
With this, he expressed hope that the Ministry of Education would speed up its process in affording children with disabilities the opportunity of “going to mainstream or top schools in Georgetown”.
Singh added “It is expected that the Ministry of Human Services & Social Security promote independent services such as supplying or making available resources such as wheelchairs and other tools we can utilise. We want mobility aids, counselling and some financial support for persons with disabilities and their families.”
Kaieteur News understands that the ‘Chain of Canes’ is a way in which there will be a linkage of “ordinary people to law-makers and to laws”. A pamphlet supplied by the Guyana Society for the Blind (GSB), Guyana Blind Cricket Association (GBCA) and supported by the Voluntary Services Organization (VSO), called out to the above mentioned Ministries to “start the wheels of operation for the Disability Act 2010”.
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