FORUM LOOKS AT DISABLED PERSONS IN ANGUILLA

anguillian
By anguillian September 28, 2012 08:55

FORUM LOOKS AT DISABLED PERSONS IN ANGUILLA

 

L-R: Mr. Russel Reid, Mrs. Serena Banks, Professor Delroy Louden, Mrs. Renuka Harrigan and Mrs. Violet Martin

Much appreciation has been expressed by members of the Anguillian public for a National Forum on Disability in Anguilla which was held at the Rodney MacArthur Rey Auditorium on Thursday, September 20.

The Ministry and Department of Social Development event was attended bya large number of members of the public as well as persons with various disabilities. Several of the disabled persons took the opportunity to speak freely about matters relating to their state of life and their expectations from Government and the community. The event, chaired by Clive F. Smith, Senior Social Worker in the Department of Social Development Elderly and Disabled Unit, was declared open by Permanent Secretary, Dr. Bonnie Richardson-Lake.

 

L-R: Mr. Frankie Smith, Mrs. Kiesha Gumbs-Bibby, Dr. Bonnie Richardson-Lake and Mrs. Daphne Hodge

“Disability covers a broad spectrum of conditions and so our response must be far-reaching, wide-ranging and multi-sectorial,” she said. “At the moment, the Register of Disabled Persons at the Department of Social Development accounts for at least eighty-eight persons, and we know that there are many others who are not registered at the department.

 

“Within the registry there is a wide range of types of disabilities recorded as well. Some of the conditions are not only rare in Anguilla, but across [the region]. This shows that Anguilla is experiencing similar challenges to larger countries around the world.

 

Public and private sector representatives and persons with disablities attending the Forum

“The recent rise in gun violence has also exacerbated the issue of disability as victims have been left paralysed or temporarily unable to function to their full potential. Overall, the toll of disability on the individual and the family can be tremendously heavy. Likewise, there is a drain on social services, the economy and taxpayers. Despite this, the Ministry of Health and Social Development is charged with ensuring the well being of all…”

 

Other persons who spoke during the opening ceremony were Mrs. Daphne Hodge, Director of Family and Social Services at the Department of Social Development, who introduced the panel of presenters; and Mrs. Kiesha Gumbs-Bibby, Social Development Planner, who gave the Vote of Thanks.

 

Public and private sector representatives and persons with disablities attending the Forum

The presenters were Mrs. Violet Martin, Manager/Leader Teacher at the Developing our Vision Educationally (DOVE) Centre, who spoke on Special Education Needs; Mrs. Serena Banks, Parliamentary Crown Counsel at the Attorney General’s Chambers, who spoke on The Human Rights Context of Disability; Dr. Delroy Louden, President of the Anguilla Community College, who spoke on The Epidemiology of Mental Illness and Disability; Mr. Russel Reid, Labour Commissioner, who spoke on Disability and Livelihood; and Mrs. Renuka Harrigan, President, Arijah Children’s Foundation. She spoke on Special Needs Development: The Arijah Children’s Foundation and The Blossom Centre.

 

Public and private sector representatives and persons with disablities attending the Forum

Mrs. Violet Martin defined special needs education as referring to “children who have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn or access education than most children of the same age.”

 

In concluding her presentation, she noted: “It is crucial that our Education Department, statutory agencies and voluntary organisations coordinate their efforts to support students with special needs, since collectively they can make an important contribution to students’ education and training.”

 

Attorney Serena Banks, quoting from the American Heritage Dictionary, defined disability as “a disadvantage or a deficiency, especially a physical or mental impairment, that prevents or restricts normal achievement.” She identified five different categories of disabilities, the first category including physical disability; visual impairment; hearing impairment; mobility impairment which may arise as a result of such conditions as arthritis, paralysis or stroke;  and chronic diseases caused by cancer, HIV and tuberculosis. The second category, developmental  disability, includes autism and dyslexia; the third category: mental disability including alzheimer’s disease, learning disability and memory loss; the fourth category includes head injuries; and the fifth category (an emerging school of thought) includes persons addicted to alcohol and drugs.

 

Dr. Louden identified a number of policy decisions and procedures which the Government should take. These include that architectural/design features that prevent easy access should be removed; landlords who want Government to rent their buildings must build wheelchair access or provide other accessible means; and that there are educational, recreational and vocational facilities for persons with disabilities.

 

Mr. Russel Reid said that there were between 25 and 30 employed disabled persons in Anguilla and that 40 disabled persons were unemployed. In pointing out certain deficiencies in the Labour Laws and the draft Labour Code, he recommended several steps towards the way forward as follows: the creation of an Occupational Health and Safety Act; proper facilities and technology to accommodate persons with disabilities; a National Association for Disabled Persons; a Workplace Policy for Disabled Persons; and Compulsory Insurance against workmen’s compensation claims.

 

Mrs. Renuka Harrigan said that the mission of the Arijah Children Foundation, a non-profit organisation, was to serve Anguilla’s children with special needs and provide hope for a brighter future. She stated that the Blossom Centre was aimed at offering early intervention services for infants and early childhood needs with programmes incorporating educational and therapeutic components. “The vision for the Blossom Centre is to one day have a facility to care for persons of all ages with special needs and to provide for their educational, physical, emotional and spiritual needs,” she explained.

 

anguillian
By anguillian September 28, 2012 08:55

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