A call has been made for a census to be conducted on persons with disabilities in Barbados, to identify who they were, their location, the nature of their disability and its extent.
Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Kirk Humphrey, issued the call during the launch on Wednesday of the Advisory Committee to guide the establishment of a Commission for Improving the Lives of Persons with Disabilities.
“These things are important too in a climate change environment because if there is a harsh climate event, how do we get to these persons? How do we move them?” he queried.
Mr. Humphrey said his Ministry was working on the continued development of its geospatial mapping to identify where the most vulnerable persons were. But, he said, there was a need to add persons with disabilities and the road to the closest hurricane shelter, on the list.
During his address, the Minister also made an impassioned plea to the private sector and Government entities to consider persons with disabilities for jobs at their establishments.
“…Hire persons who are capable of all kinds of jobs, but are denied jobs on the basis of our own discrimination and nothing to do with the disability,” he pleaded.
Mr. Humphrey said his Ministry needed to be at the vanguard of the employment movement and hire more persons with disabilities.
“If we are to be true to what it is that we are saying, as we go forward in hiring for the Department of Family Services, that must be one of the things that we do. We cannot be talking the talk and not walking the walk,” he contended.
He noted that even in the year 2022, Barbadians did not fully appreciate the challenges that were imbedded in society. Challenges identified by the Minister include difficulties in simply being able to go to the beach or into Bridgetown and finding a parking spot when they arrived.
“This work before this Committee has the opportunity to transform the legislation, and the lives of people and a whole society,” he stated.
Chair of the Committee, Edmund Hinkson, noted that the last census conducted in 2010 indicated that there were about 14,000 persons in Barbados with at least one disability, representing five per cent of the population at that time.
However, he noted that persons with disabilities needed to be involved in all aspects of Barbadian life, whether it was social, commercial, economic, educational or political.
Mr. Hinkson described the launch of the Committee as “a real transition” into how Government intended to address persons with disabilities going forward.