The National United Society of the Blind (NUSB) is pleading with corporate Barbados not to fear the unknown.
Rudy Welch, outgoing President of the NUSB, told Barbados TODAY at the organization’s awards ceremony on Saturday, that despite attaining the necessary qualifications, finding employment continues to be an uphill battle.
“Two years ago, 15 of us sat CXC exams in Principles of Business, Office Administration, English and Social Studies, we got back grades one and two but getting employment in Barbados as a blind person is very challenging,” Welch said.
“I think that employers are afraid of the unknown, companies may be hesitant to hire persons that are visually impaired because they may think that it requires major physical restructuring but that is not so, the blind person only needs to know the layout of the office and they have it covered and I think we need to sensitize companies as well as show them what we are capable of.”
The NUSB has been reaching out to businesses for job attachments and internships but says only two businesses have been receptive to the idea.
They have even met with the Chamber of Commerce, in hopes of signing a Memorandum of Understanding, but it has been put on hold.
Speaking of unemployment, Welch urged Barbadians who are currently working to pay their National Insurance,
“A lot of blind persons benefit from NIS, many of our disabled community benefit from NIS and sometimes that is the only cheque they get, NIS contribution and nothing more, they have to live off of it and manage it the best they can, so I implore Barbadians to pay their NIS.”
Welch said outside of employment, another major challenge for the blind in Barbados is infrastructure.
“It is difficult to get around when persons park on the side of sidewalks, when utility poles are obstructing sidewalks, when people place plant pots on sidewalks that make it difficult for persons to maneuver, infrastructure is a great challenge we have especially at a time when we are working to make persons who are visually impaired more independent, ” he said.
Meanwhile, Welch has congratulated Marjorie Watson who received the NUSB President’s Award as well as the Personality of the Year Award. (KH)