Barbados has recorded a first for the country and the Caribbean in training the deaf through a Digital Media and Film Programme.
The graduates of the seven-month programme have formed a company called Broad Street Media, which was launched at the recent BMEX showcase.
Addressing the graduation ceremony at the headquarters of the National Council on Substance Abuse, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley said the country was proud to see the emergence of a new cadre of entrepreneurs who are able to tap into not only the mainstream film industry, but are capable of creating niche markets among persons living with disabilities.
He told his audience that the initiative comes at a time when his ministry continues to double its effort to implement systems to address the issue of unemployment among the island’s youth.
“In fact, in the National Youth Policy of Barbados, the primary goal is to reduce unemployment by ensuring that young people are gainfully occupied after leaving school. We have therefore identified in the policy pathways to provide training in creative disciplines such as sports, entertainment, arts, craft, information and communications technologies and other areas that young people are passionate about,” Lashley said.
Lashley acknowledged that disabled youth have historically made up a sizeable proportion of the island’s unemployed and suffer most from discrimination and lack of access to opportunities.
And he said officials at the ministry have focused on providing programmes that have moved from providing segregated responses to inclusive solutions.
Establishing his case for inclusive solutions, Lashley said: “It would seem, therefore, that if as a society we can eliminate discrimination and the other environmental barriers that persons with disabilities face on a daily basis, that a more inclusive and participatory environment will be created for the disabled.”
Lashley contended that the programme is a significant starting point for the type of mainstreaming of the disabled community that is desirable.
He said it would impact not only on the individuals, but would also serve to raise the profile of persons living with disabilities.