JIS News

The Government and employers in general, are being urged to create an environment, which provides more social and economic opportunities for disabled persons.
“I am asking the administrators of the system to be more alert and sensitive to the needs of persons with disabilities, because there is a great deal of insensitivity towards persons, who are not able to function as adequately as regular persons,” said former social worker and now information technology student at the Abilities Foundation, Laurel Matthews.
Ms. Matthews, in a recent interview with JIS News, said that she had worked with the Government as a social worker for seventeen and a half years, but had to resign because she was suffering from Retinitis Tigmentos, which has made her visually impaired.Though thankful for the support that she is now receiving, she outlined that if things were in place then to assist her needs, she would be better off today.
“In my situation, I thought then and still believe now that if my immediate supervisors had placed a great deal of interest in me as a person, I think I would have been in a better place today, both emotionally and financially,” she argued.
On many occasions, persons with disabilities are neglected because of a lack of understanding of their social and economic value to the economy and Jamaica in general. Due to the lack of facilities and inadequate support, sometimes these persons are financially and emotionally deprived, said Ms. Matthews.
Despite the constraints, Ms. Matthews, is calling on her colleagues and others persons with disabilities “to keep their heads above high waters irrespective of the challenges they now face.”
“I am saying to you all, do not give up on yourself because of what you have been through or what you are now going through. Do not impair your judgment of people because there are some really good human beings around us, but sometimes we have to go through certain hardships to meet these people and every hardship that a visually impaired person from my point of view has experienced, it should allow us to remember that the people around you are just human. What we the disabled need to do is to find a way to allow them to see that they are messing up and they need to look at us in a different perspective,” said Ms. Matthews.
During his contribution to the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate, the State Minister, in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Andrew Gallimore, announced that the Government will institute the necessary legislation, to allow persons with hearing impairment to acquire drivers’ licenses.
He has also announced that the Government will be reserving 5 per cent of jobs in the Public Sector for persons with disabilities.