The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has developed and distributed earthquake safety information and emergency numbers in braille for the vulnerable group of visually impaired and blind Jamaicans.
“In the past, the ODPEM has recognised the need to be more inclusive in our communication of disaster risk reduction with members of the disabled community. In 2021, it is our strategic intent to broaden the process of integrating disaster risk management information,” ODPEM’s Director of Information and Training, Delmares White, said.
“Integrating disability perspectives into all phases of our disaster risk reduction, especially disaster preparedness, will enable persons with disabilities and their support personnel to access disaster-related information and knowledge, which in turn will help them to assess their risk, to better plan as well as to assist them in participating in drills and in disability sensitisation exercises,” she added.
Ms. White was speaking at a ceremony where ODPEM handed over braille earthquake safety and emergency numbers to representatives from several disability groups, on January 27, in Kingston.
Recipients included the Jamaica Society for the Blind, the Salvation Army School for the Blind and the Combined Disabilities Association.
Speaking on the importance of the event, Executive Director of the Jamaica Society for the Blind, Conrad Harris, said access to information affects every aspect of a blind person’s life, and commended the ODPEM for their effort in bridging the gap.
“I want to laud the Office of Disaster Preparedness for the action they are taking, for realising that all Jamaicans need the information that they have and for having the foresight to put this information into braille, so that persons who are blind and who read braille can have access to this type of information. If persons who are blind had the same information available to them as is available to someone who can see, then probably blindness would not be an issue at all,” Mr. Harris said.
The Jamaica Society for the Blind worked closely with the ODPEM to edit and create earthquake safety information from existing content and printed them in braille for distribution.
The ODPEM is also encouraging persons with disabilities and disability-related organisations to establish disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction and management policies to “enhance the conditions of all citizens’ safety and ease communication and responsive movement”.