“Let us all make a pledge to inclusivity and leave no one behind”.
This was Minister of Social Care, Steven Blackett’s message to Barbadians today, on the eve of International Day of the Disabled, recognised annually on December 3.
Minister Blackett was delivering the opening remarks at the National Disabilities Unit’s workshop, held at the Horatio Cooke Auditorium, Dalkeith, when he urged Barbadians to make the pledge with him.
“Can we make our society a more inclusive one? Yes we can. In 1992, the United Nations declared December 3rd to be International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and we look back to 30 or 40 years ago when features such as public documents in braille, appropriate restrooms and even ramps were not as common as they are today,” he declared.
He explained that Government, through the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, had committed itself to the development of policies, programmes and activities that would empower and protect persons within society who are deemed to be “vulnerable or socially disadvantaged.
To mark International Day of the Disabled 2016, the United Nations selected the theme Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want. It draws attention to the 17 sustainable development goals and how these goals can create a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities.
“It is imperative therefore, that we seek to remove all barriers, including those related to the physical environment, information and communications technology and attitudes. We hope this day will promote greater awareness of the issues people with disabilities face and mobilise action to improve access to inclusion,” Mr. Blackett said to those gathered.
Additionally, the Social Care Minister stated that the only way to improve the uncomfortable plight of people living with disabilities is through public education and awareness, as the issue is “far too complex and too taxing on our social systems to leave it up to politicians, public servants and charitable organisations”.
He stated that in order to reach the high standards of some of the more developed countries, it would take significant resources for major infrastructural work, and it is therefore incumbent that everyone joins the fight.
“Like all of us, their futures are defined not only by their limitations, but by what they can achieve. Any one of us can become disabled at any time,” he said.