- Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Colette Roberts Risden, has underscored the Government’s dedication to advancing the country’s disability agenda.
- In addition to the passage of the Disabilities Act, she noted that a working group has been created.
- Mrs. Roberts Risden was speaking at a Stakeholders’ Consultation for the Disability Sector Communication Strategy, held recently, at the Ministry’s North Street offices in Kingston.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Colette Roberts Risden, has underscored the Government’s dedication to advancing the country’s disability agenda.
In addition to the passage of the Disabilities Act, she noted that a working group has been created, “as a demonstration of the commitment to the transformation process and of making the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) the strong and effective organisation it needs to be to carry out the mandate of the Act.”
Mrs. Roberts Risden was speaking at a Stakeholders’ Consultation for the Disability Sector Communication Strategy, held recently, at the Ministry’s North Street offices in Kingston.
She noted that the country is moving towards achieving full integration and non-discrimination against persons with disabilities (PWDs), but noted that the process is “a work in progress” and will take some time to accomplish.
“I know that you have all been waiting for this a long time but change takes time and transition is a process. I need you, therefore, to understand that things will not happen all at once,” she said.
The stakeholders’ consultation, hosted by the JCPD, was aimed at crafting a communication strategy that will guide how the agency speaks to the public regarding disability matters.
Mrs. Roberts Risden called for continued collaboration between State and non-governmental agencies in enhancing communication with PWDs.
She noted that “even with a communication plan in place, it will not be easy for the JCPD to achieve the goal of educating the public on its own. A collaborative approach is vital, and this unity is desirable, since we are all dealing with the same persons in the same community.”
Executive Director of JCPD, Christine Hendricks, speaking during an interview with JIS News, said the strategy will be informed by the findings of the Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices and Behaviours Survey that was conducted in February.
She informed that the findings from the study indicate that persons “either knew very little about disabilities or heard about disabilities such a long time ago that they could not even recall hearing about it.”
“They were not sure of the differences between the different disability groups and they were not certain about their capabilities. Some persons did not even understand that persons with disabilities have rights,” she pointed out.
Mrs. Hendricks said the consultation was to “find a means for the sector to collaborate and partner in a more strategic way so that we can speak with one voice to the public.”
“Also that (the public) can better understand the different (disability) groups and what they have to offer, and find a way to allow the sector to work together in a way that would better impact the entire sector,” she told JIS News.
The Executive Director is appealing to members of the society to treat PWDs with respect as it is easy for anyone to become disabled.
“A person with a physical disability could be anyone of us. You can acquire a physical disability …through an accident and it wouldn’t be the end of your life. However, if we do not begin to accept persons with disabilities, then if you are the person with a disability, then you are not going to see much hope,” she contended.
Going forward, Mrs. Hendricks said that special interest groups, including employers and the media, will be engaged.