A new public sector council has recently begun the work of advising the public and private sector on disability issues, as well as enforcing provisions of the Solomon Webster Disability Law 2016.
The National Council for Persons with Disabilities is made up of 15 volunteers from a variety of backgrounds and experience. All members are either themselves disabled, and/or have a disabled family member, work with or are involved in the education and care of the disabled, or are associated with organisations or initiatives that benefit the disabled.
Patron Parker Tibbetts expressed the Council’s gratitude to those public and private sector stakeholders who he said had worked tirelessly from 2007 to 2016 to develop the policy goals and draft the new legislation. Mr. Tibbetts promised that the new body would continue in the spirit of their work.
Since they began monthly meetings in April, members have already taken part in regional UN/Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean webinar discussion on matters concerning disabilities in various jurisdictions. They have also begun an evaluation of the Actions Steps which the Cayman Islands Disability Policy 2014-2033 calls for Government agencies to execute.
The Council has also met with OfReg to discuss matters relating to broadcasting including the possible introduction of signing for the deaf.
The Council’s primary objective, chairperson Magda Embury explained, is that, “like any other developed democratic society, we want to ensure that people with disabilities in the Cayman Islands can fully access all government services, in accordance with their constitutional rights”.
In particular, the Council will focus on the disability policy’s requirements that people with disabilities enjoy:
• quality education in the most appropriate inclusive setting, and have access to lifelong learning,
• equal access to employment opportunities, fair wage and benefits,
• access to the highest standard of health care, and
• their highest level of independence and full inclusion in society.
In keeping with its mandate, Ms. Embury noted that the Council has already contacted all the various ministries to ascertain where each is regarding the implementation of their action steps.
The policy also requires the Council to collect, analyse and disseminate information on the subject of disabilities to inform policy, legislation and services.
Deputy Chairperson Faith Gealey remarked that the Council looks forward to engaging with people with disabilities and related community organisations, as well as legislators and policymakers. It will seek Ms. Gealey said, to discuss questions about the new law, address concerns with the provision of services, and assist with access to services.