The Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) is carrying out a registration exercise to determine the number of persons living with disabilities in the island.
The process, which started in February, will continue until July of this year, Executive Director of the JCPD, Christine Hendricks, tells JIS News.
She said the objective is to have accurate data regarding persons with disabilities so that effective planning can be undertaken and provisions made to meet their needs.
Ms. Hendricks informed that although the Council has been registering persons with disabilities since its inception in 1973, it does not have an accurate figure as to the number of Jamaicans with a disability.
There are approximately 12,000 persons on the JCPD’s register. Nearly 2,000 persons have been newly registered or re-entered into the database since February.
Encouraging persons to sign up, the Executive Director said that once persons are registered with the Council, then the body guarantees that throughout each stage of development, their individual needs will be met.
“First of all, it is very important to register because if the Government does not know that you exist, it is difficult to plan for you,” she noted.
The registration exercise involves house-to-house calls and visits to institutions and communities that cater to persons with disabilities.
“It’s not as widespread as the census because we wouldn’t have as many persons but we’re trying to capture the bulk as much as possible through the different locations and agencies,” she said.
Ms. Hendricks noted that the council will also stage several public education campaigns to inform the wider public of the initiative.
“We will be having campaigns both in the print and electronic media to ensure that the word gets out there. Of course, we are targeting also, the various agencies that serve persons with disabilities,” the Executive Director said.
She added that the council will also be staging health fairs in all parishes, as part of efforts to register more persons.
“We will be having at least two health fairs in each parish to see if we can gather persons at central points…it will be announced in short order as to where persons can come,” she said.
Ms. Hendricks informed that even though the official registration will end in July, the process is ongoing.
“People with disabilities are always being born, persons are always acquiring disabilities so the process … will continue as long as the council exists,” she added.
The JCPD, a programme of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, caters to Jamaicans with various challenges, such as visual and hearing impairments, intellectual disabilities, speech impediment, autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, paraplegia, quadriplegia, hemiplegia and multiple disabilities.
For additional information, persons may contact the JCPD at 968-8373.
Contact: Chris Patterson