Less than 24 hours after hearing that Government has approved the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, the main representative agency is celebrating the move.
Calling it “the perfect gift to the electorate” and one that was long in coming, Operations Manager with the Barbados Council for the Disabled, Roseanna Tudor, noted it was the right move.
Tudor recalled that months ago the council had started a petition aimed at getting the convention ratified as they believed it was the natural next step in the fight for not just recognition but actual equal rights for persons in the disabled community.
Noting that jobs were still their biggest challenge, the BCD head said that they also had work to do in getting the members as well as the general public to understand what it meant.
“[I]t is not just that we are asking the general public to conform to make the environment accessible; I always say that we too have to play our part. You have to understand that it will not happen overnight, but we had a white paper years ago that was only like a policy the Government was working with, guiding them.
“This now, this ratification signals that the Government will start to put things in place, legislation. They will start working on things like the parking ID that we had sitting down there in the Attorney General’s office. Then you’ve got to look at the different infrastructures, public places will have to start gradually putting in access because you are now catering to everybody. So this is what it means, but you don’t do it right away. You have two years after it has been ratified to report to the UN,” said Tudor.
In discussions earlier this year with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, she said they had indicated that Barbados already had much to report on the progress of persons with disabilities.
“We have been doing a lot of the ground work – school make-overs, trying to make schools more inclusive. We have children beginning to be accepted into schools. Employment is the biggest one though. It is big. We know in the housing at Valerie, they are starting to put in accessible units, then FAB [Fully Accessible Barbados] is going good because all the hotels are starting to pay attention and every week you are getting one adding in, or calling to put things in place… We are making a step in the right direction.”
She said she was hoping with this announcement and the eventual ratification that there would be a ramping up of local attention on efforts to fully integrate those with disabilities into the community.
“We have to do an educational programme for our members, which was one of the main things we wanted to do when we started the petition for ratification, so our members can also understand what it would mean.
“It is not going to mean that because it is ratified that everything must be put in place, that you will be given a job. It takes time still.”
She said it was a fact that Barbados was way ahead of some of their Caribbean counterparts, even Jamaica which was the first to ratify the convention.
For the council and the members of the community, this was a great gift this season, with the work to continue next year, said Tudor. (LB)