Jamaica Gleaner / In the race of life, we are all afforded advantages and disadvantages that fuel or de-energise us along our journey. For me, the journey of disability has been a very rough one, as I have had to move from being physically fit to being disabled at different stages in life.
Currently, I am certified disabled by the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD). Through my full registration with JCPD, I have been educated on my rights as a disabled person in the workplace as well as in society. Inclusion is very critical for all vulnerable persons, including, but not limited to, women and children, homosexuals and the disabled.
According to the JCPD, inclusion means having a sense of belonging. The JCPD further defines inclusion as all people living, learning, working and playing together regardless of ability. The JCPD outlines that there are three non-negotiable pillars of inclusion.
The first is support; the second is participation while the third is access. An example of inclusion not being adhered to in Jamaica is where someone who is physically challenged is interviewed for a position and is denied the position because there is no elevator at the office. Clearly, the employer would advise that the applicant who is disabled was not found suitable for the position.
In dissecting this situation, it is clear that the disabled person is being denied the opportunity to work, regardless of qualifications and skills. Most importantly, the disabled person is being discriminated against as he/she is fully qualified for the job, however, as a result of the disability and the employer’s refusal to provide suitable working conditions he/she is being excluded. It is situations like these that the JCPD and other organisations fight so hard to prevent. Disabled persons have lives too and bills like everyone else in society and as such we reserve the right to live freely in a society where we are able to contribute in all aspects.
STEPS TO CREATING INCLUSION OF THE DISABLED IN JAMAICA
– Education: The government and NGOs need to spearhead a public education campaign and make good on this through leading by example.
– Policy Development: The government has to put into policy and law the rights of disabled persons not only regarding employment but also housing and access to local services including but not limited to telecommunication services/utilities, etc.
– Sanctions: The Government needs to ensure that the appropriate penalty is meted out to persons or organisations who violate the laws and policies established to protect the disabled members of society.
WHY INCLUSION OF THE DISABLED IS NECESSARY IN SOCIETY
– To ensure increase in the nation’s earning power. Once more persons are earning an income then clearly the Government can collect more revenue through taxes therefore relieving the massive tax burden many Jamaicans face.
– To create independent, focused and contributory members of society. This situation will ultimately relieve the welfare burden that the Government will face when disabled persons rely on the government and or its agencies for support.
– To reduce illness among persons who are disabled. Inclusion creates involvement at all levels of society by disabled people. This involvement gives the disabled a new focus and the opportunity to be active and not give in to illnesses associated with disability.
– To get more information on creating accessible environment for the disabled in your business or home visit this link: