JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Executive Director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), Christine Hendricks, says the organization, through its ongoing public awareness efforts, should see further increases in the number of persons who register with the Council.
  • Since the passage of the Disabilities Act in 2014, the JCPD has been calling for persons with disabilities to become registered and enjoy the benefits of being a member of the Council.
  • These benefits include economic empowerment grants, assistance with aids and devices, as well as therapy sessions and the concessionary bus fares with the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC). In specific cases, income tax exemption is also included.

Executive Director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), Christine Hendricks, says the organization, through its ongoing public awareness efforts, should see further increases in the number of persons who register with the Council.

Since the passage of the Disabilities Act in 2014, the JCPD has been calling for persons with disabilities to become registered and enjoy the benefits of being a member of the Council.

These benefits include economic empowerment grants, assistance with aids and devices, as well as therapy sessions and the concessionary bus fares with the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC). In specific cases, income tax exemption is also included.

In an interview with JIS News, Ms. Hendricks said there have been challenges as some persons do not acknowledge they have a disability out of fear of being stigmatized and labelled.

“We are recognising that some persons, although they may have a disability, they do not consider themselves to be disabled because of the stigma that comes along with the term,” she added.

The Executive Director said the Council has been conducting workshops and staff development sessions with organisations and with parents of children with disabilities, informing them of the importance of registering, as well as providing information on the different disabilities and the Disabilities Act.

During the school term, she said a series of sessions with teachers and parents are also done, in order to foster a greater understanding of the responsibility and functions of the Council under the Act and to provide support to the institutions.

Mrs. Hendricks said a media campaign will be launched in the coming months, to further educate and inform the public.

“As we continue to increase our public awareness, I am sure people will begin to better understand who is a person with a disability and our registration will increase over time,” she said.

Currently, there are 32,000 persons registered with the Council, up from 27,000 reported last year. Figures from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, however, show that there are more than 785,000 Jamaicans who live with some form of disability.

The JCPD, which operates under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, is  charged with the responsibility to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment by persons with disabilities, of privileges, interests, benefits and treatment, on equal basis with others.

The Disabilities Act was passed in October last year and contains provisions to safeguard and enhance the welfare of persons with disabilities. The law seeks to ensure full and effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities, in the society.