Disability Conference from May 11-13


The Ministry of Labour and Social Security, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Transformation in Barbados, will be hosting a Caribbean Ministerial Conference on Disability from May 11 to 13 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.
The first of its kind in the Caribbean, over 75 persons are expected to attend, including Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ministers with responsibilities for persons with disabilities, and technical officers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Jamaica, who are involved in implementing programmes for persons with disabilities, as well as stakeholders with an interest in disability issues.
Representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development will also be participating at the conference.
Addressing the weekly JIS ‘Think Tank’ this week, Director of Social Security, Faith Innerarity said that Jamaica was selected to host the conference because it had made significant strides on behalf of persons with disabilities.
“Jamaica, it is felt, is one of the leading countries as far as disability issues are concerned and in fact, officials from neighbouring Caribbean countries have been here and have seen what Jamaica has done in this regard,” the Director said.
The main aim of the conference is to seek the commitment of Ministers present to develop a co-ordinated approach and provide a common position on the United Nations draft of the International Convention for Persons with Disabilities, which seeks to promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, as well as to ensure that disability issues become a permanent part of the CARICOM agenda.
“It is felt that it is very important for us as a region to examine this draft document to ensure that the provisions are in keeping with what would be beneficial for all Caribbean people and, that our issues as they relate to our developmental aspects are fully covered,” Mrs. Innerarity explained.
The conference would not only focus on the draft of the international instrument, she noted, but would also assess the situation of persons with disabilities throughout the Caribbean region.
“So as part of the conference, we will share in best practices of our various countries within the region and it is hoped that at the end of the conference we will have a preliminary draft CARICOM plan of action for persons with disabilities, which we expect to take to the highest level,” she said.
Outlining the other activities, the Director said that there would be a field trip on the first day of the conference (May 11) for overseas visitors, “so that they can all see the various educational institutions and other projects for persons with disabilities in Jamaica”.
The trip will cover the Abilities Foundation, Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre, Jamaica Association for the Deaf, McCam Child Development Centre and Jamaican Association on Mental Retardation in Kingston; Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf in Manchester; and Woodside Workshop in Clarendon.
The opening and business sessions will take place from May 12 to 13. The keynote speaker will be the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Horace Dalley. Others who will play prominent roles are Senator Floyd Morris, State Minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and, Hamilton Lashley, Minister of Social Transformation from Barbados, who have been instrumental in convening the conference.
“We are looking forward to an excellent outcome from this meeting and, we hope that this meeting will in itself, serve to heighten public awareness within Jamaica and the region of the importance of addressing the needs of persons with disabilities,” the Director said.
“We also hope to highlight the important contribution that persons with disabilities have been making to development, nationally and globally,” she added.
Disability issues are of great significance, not just for Jamaica, but countries worldwide. It is estimated that about 10 per cent of the world’s population has a disability.
In Jamaica, based on statistics available, the percentage of persons with a disability hovers around eight per cent of the population. Jamaica also has a national policy for persons with disabilities based on standard rules of the United Nations.

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