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Story Highlights

  • The Bill, which was passed with 14 amendments, seeks to ensure full and effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities, in the society.
  • The Bill will also facilitate the establishment of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, as well as the Disabilities Rights Tribunal.
  • Senate President, Hon. Floyd Morris, who is visually challenged, described the legislation’s passage as historic.

The Disabilities Act, which makes provisions to safeguard and enhance the welfare of persons with disabilities across Jamaica, was passed in the Senate on Friday, October 10.

The Bill, which was passed with 14 amendments, seeks to ensure full and effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities, in the society.

Its main objectives are: reinforcing and promoting the recognition and acceptance, within Jamaica, of the principle that a person with a disability has the same fundamental rights as any other person; and promoting individual dignity and autonomy, including the freedom of choice and independence of a person with a disability.

The Bill will also facilitate the establishment of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, as well as the Disabilities Rights Tribunal.

In her contribution to the debate, Government Senator, Sophia Frazer Binns, highlighted the Bill’s stipulation for health care provision without discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as setting minimum standards with which health care providers are mandated to comply.

“The fact is that persons with disabilities are already experiencing health challenges; and so every effort must be made to ensure that they receive timely and cost effective health care,” Senator Fraser Binns said.
In this regard, she said the Bill’s provisions are commendable and represent a step in the right direction.

“They signal a non-discriminatory inclusiveness for the disabled while showing a key understanding of the differences being experienced,” she argued.

Mrs. Frazer Binns also recommended that health insurance be developed for persons with disabilities.

“I recommend that we consider whether a special health insurance can be afforded to persons with disabilities through the National Health Fund (NHF). Alternatively, a special arrangement can be made through the NHF where persons with disabilities are given NHF cards to cover all illness related to their disability, including the purchasing of wheel chairs, prosthesis, and white canes,” she proposed.

Senate President, Hon. Floyd Morris, who is visually challenged, described the legislation’s passage as historic.

“Today, joy fills the hearts of many Jamaicans across this country, especially those within the community of persons with disabilities. I am proud (and) I am happy for this day,” Senator Morris said.