JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Public education will play a significant role in getting Jamaicans ready for the full implementation of the National Disabilities Act.
  • Several tactics will be employed to ensure that the Act is understood by Jamaicans, especially the disabled.
  • The Act has been passed by the House of Representatives, and will now go before the Senate for its approval.

Public education will play a significant role in getting Jamaicans ready for the full implementation of the National Disabilities Act.

Executive Director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), Christine Hendricks, told JIS News that several tactics will be employed to ensure that the Act is understood by Jamaicans, especially the disabled.

“There will be a lot of public awareness and varying sensitization methods to make persons aware of the Act. It’s also about educating persons with disabilities about their rights, because they too must be empowered if they are to speak up and know what they are entitled to, as well as knowing what their responsibilities are in the whole process,” she said.

The Act has been passed by the House of Representatives, and will now go before the Senate for its approval.

Ms. Hendricks said everyone will be a part of the education process, including those living in rural Jamaica.  “Everything happens in Kingston, but it impacts the rest of society. Their concerns might be similar and yet they might be different…so we have to take them into consideration,” she added.

Another essential element in the sensitization process will be to get employers to understand the importance of the disabled in the workplace.

Transition Officer at the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, Kimberley Sherlock, said that a lot of employers shy away from employing the deaf, because they are not equipped with the tools needed to communicate with them.

Ms. Sherlock noted that since the House approved the  Act in  July this year, some employers have enquired about how they can learn sign language to communicate with the deaf.

Organizations such as Junior Achievement Jamaica have joined the move to be more inclusive by changing how their programmes are offered.

Project Coordinator, Stephanie McIntyre, informed that they are now offering programmes to some members of the disabled community, and with the rollout of the Act, they will eventually expand their services.

“We have already started to ensure that our programmes are inclusive and accessible to those who are deaf and hard of hearing. With the Act, we will be better able to continue the outreach and broaden [the programmes], not only to those who are deaf and hard of hearing, but to make them accessible to all,” Ms. McIntyre said.

Misses Hendricks, Sherlock and McIntyre recently participated in a United States- sponsored trip to that  country to observe the Americans with Disabilities Act in action, as Jamaica prepares to implement a similar Act.