Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett today highlighted the need for Barbados to become a more inclusive society.
Speaking at a workshop to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Blackett appealed to all Barbadians to “let us make a pledge to inclusivity and to leave no one behind”.
“It is imperative, therefore, that we seek to remove all barriers, including those related to the physical environment, information and communications technology, and attitudes,” he said.
“We hope this day will promote greater awareness of the issues people with disabilities face and mobilize action to improve access to inclusion. We can also reflect on our opportunities, raise our ambition and strengthen our capability to better meet the needs of this vital population.”
Blackett noted that the National Disabilities Unit had over the years maintained its focus on building a more inclusive culture, including through pilot prgrammes and partnerships with NGOs. He added that the unit placed heavy emphasis on the importance of technology to persons with disabilities.
“Since 2010, the National Disabilities Unit has administered a project whose overarching goal is to enhance the lives of the blind and visually impaired by restoring their independent living skills. The project includes home visits to assist with mobility and orientation to daily living skills. Additionally, students are introduced to the world of technology and what it can do for them,” he added.
The Social Care Minister said the only way to achieve the fully inclusive society was for the public to be properly educated on the importance of it.
“Public education and awareness is the only way we can improve the uncomfortable plight of people living with disabilities in our society, as this issue is far too complex and too taxing on our social systems to leave it up to politicians, public servants and charitable organizations,” he stressed.
“To reach the high standards of some of the more developed countries, it will take significant resources for major infrastructural work. It is therefore incumbent on all of us to join the fight, since persons with disabilities are members of our families and among our friends, colleagues and neighbours. Like all of us, their futures are defined not only by their limitations, but also by what they can achieve. Any one of us can become disabled at any time.”
Blackett urged those gathered to use International Day of Persons with Disabilities to reflect on how they could turn the opportunity into a reality.
“We have an opportunity to innovate ways that can help contribute to a brighter future for persons with disabilities, and a strong support system reminds us that we do matter and can make a difference. Can we make our society a more inclusive one? Yes we can,” he said.