Minister urges disability rights but no news on law

| 01/12/2010

(CNS): The education minister has urged everyone to do their part in protecting and ensuring the rights of people living with disabilities. In his message marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December Rolston Anglin said people with disabilities have the right to equality and non-discrimination. “They have the right to accessibility, employment, health and rehabilitation. They also have the right to life, liberty and security like everyone else,” Anglin said but made no mention of when new legislation will be brought to the Legislative Assembly as required by the constitution.

Minister’s message in full:

“I have no legs, but I still have feelings. I cannot see, but I think all the time. Although I’m deaf, I still want to communicate. Why do people see me as useless, thoughtless, talkless, when I am as capable as any for thoughts about our world?”

These are the words of a poem written by 14-year-old Coralie Severs from the United Kingdom.
Her poem speaks for millions of children and adults worldwide, who live with disabilities every day. Many face discrimination. Their abilities are overlooked, and their capacities underestimated. They don’t get the education and healthcare they need, and they are excluded, oftentimes inadvertently, from many community activities.
But children and adults with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else; their prerogatives to express themselves are the same as everyone else’s. Even though they may have difficulty seeing, hearing, walking or remembering, they too have dreams, hopes and ideas that they want to share with their community.
Since 1982, the United Nations has observed December third as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. One may think this observance is for those with disabilities. And it is: the day focuses on how recognising the rights of persons with disabilities benefits every aspect of our political, social, economic and cultural lives.
But it equally is about waking up those of us who, either consciously or unconsciously, have the “disability” of seeing persons with certain physical or mental conditions as unable to contribute positively to our society.
Our local theme for 2010, It’s About Ability, reflects this; and I urge you to think about exactly what these three words mean.
Simply put, we are all different, and as such have different levels of ability. So if we just take time to think, we easily can rattle off a long list of persons with disabilities, who have risen above their challenges to invent, entertain and inspire. These include:
Author Helen Keller,
Singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder
Artist Claude Monet.
Scientists like Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein
Actors like Michael J. Fox, Christopher Reeve and Tom Cruise.
Locally, we have our own differently-abled high achievers such as swimmers like Andrew Smilley and sprinter Cindy Whittaker. Not to mention our Special Olympics football team that recently won gold in the Special Olympics Jamaica Invitational Football Competition.
Consequently, the Ministry of Education, Training and Employment is ensuring that the talents within our intellectually and physically challenged citizens are nurtured and encouraged, and that their basic human rights are protected.
An advisory body, called the Steering Committee for Persons with Disabilities, was formed in 2007 with this objective. Its members are identifying gaps in service provisions for these citizens, and promoting public awareness and acceptance of persons with disabilities in our community. Already they have spearheaded an extensive review of current laws affecting persons with disabilities, and have made recommendations for their reform.
While this committee continues its important work, I urge everyone to also do their part in protecting and ensuring the rights of persons living with disabilities. This really isn’t hard to do.
Simple actions, such as leaving disabled parking spots for those who really need them; educating ourselves about the needs of persons with disabilities; or taking a little more time, if needed, when working or socialising with physically and mentally challenged citizens, can help everyone contribute in our society.
All we need to do is to keep in mind that persons with disabilities have the right to equality and non-discrimination. They have the right to accessibility, employment, health and rehabilitation. They also have the right to life, liberty and security like everyone else.
In the Cayman Islands, and around the world, International Day for Persons with Disabilities promotes an attitude of inclusion, rather than one of exclusion. I ask every person in our community to challenge themselves, to think and act in a way that recognises the rights of persons living with disabilities.
 

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Comments (12)

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  1. Majority Whip says:

    Ms.Florence,

    Thank you for beating them into submission one more time!

    What’s that in your hand, is it a Cow Cod?

    Oh, I See, it looks more like  the independent Majority Whip!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Florence,

    You did it again!   YOU ARE SO RIGHT. You always hit the nail on the head

    This government haven’t a clue as to exactly what their responsibilities are to the people of this country who elected them into office!

    They  need someone to write their job description for them.

    Kudos, Good article  KEEP WRITING FLO!

  3. Anonymous says:

    any comments from the governor in relation to more ‘good governance’ from the local politicians?.

  4. 911 HELP says:

    Sounds good to me but i want to know does this mean also places to have proper wheel chair access to buildings in Cayman and especially in George Town I know Anderson Square still dont cater to handicaps this was brought to the talk shows many times by me and others .I think it is high time they did it.

  5. Anonymous says:

     A good start would be for the Cayman Islands Government trucks to stop parking in the handicapped spot at the lumber yard.  That would show a little political will.  

  6. Anonymous says:

    I happen to be aware that for over 10 years there have been internal encouragement and recommendations for the management of the airport to obtain appropriate hi-lift equipment for enplaning and deplaning passengers. There have also been private industry proposals, however all advances have been met with nonchalance, lack of customer awareness and basic respect for the dignity of which you speak and ultimately, rejection.

    God forbid that there is an accident when a passenger is being ‘carted’ up or down the aircraft stairs but maybe a hefty lawsuit will wake them up.

     

  7. Kung Fu Iguana says:

    Dear Disabled of Cayman,

    We are sorry we hung you out to dry in our desperate constitutional fight to preserve homophobia.  At least when you still suffer you know it was in the name of bigotry.

    Yours

    Cayman Islands Politicians and Clergy

    • Anonymous says:

      "The education minister has urged everyone to do their part in protecting and ensuring the rights of people living with disabilities" — meanwhile the education minister and his government wont do their part and pass the legislation to protect the disabled.

      Rolston – do YOUR part and pass the necessary laws, fool!

    • anonymous says:

      Go with the Flo!

      Flo you have a way with words unlike none other!

      You too bad!  Tell um bout what we hired them for!

      Kudos

      Write more!

  8. Anonymous says:

    How about the airport obtaining a scissor lift to help disabled passengers to board and depart the aircraft? That would be a start by providing a little dignaty to those with disabilities arriving by air.

  9. Florence Goring-Nozza says:

     Mr.Rolston Anglin

           Thank you for your highly decorated speech it was  needful but some what amusing  as  there  are no checks and balances in  the critical and necessary function of our Law Makers  to resolve this problem facing the nation’s physically handicapped. For a cabinet minister to make a public appearance  with no resolution to immediately resolve  the plight of physically challenged in our society  is a bit absurd.

         Now I think that most readers would agree that you as one of  our elected  Lawmakers with all power vested in your hands would like to make life better for the  disabled  But are you actually appealing  to and depending our society alone  for us to make life better for them?    Sir, by making such requests in your speech in every sense of the word as an elected minister you are making yourself a more likely target for criticism for publicly  highlighting the  need for protection of the rights of the disabled  in front of lay members of a bipolar society. Yes a  fashionable class of demographics that are politically, economically,  socially  and nationally challenged on a daily basis.  While your request may be morally right with some merit  there is no show of responsibility on the part of our government as long as there is  no law enacted in the constitution to back it up and with no regulatory system in place.

         Let us all  pretend that this is not  ignorance on the government’s part or that the lack of interest on the rights of the disabled finds  every one of you "ONE YEAR" to date in office already as elected members responsible for the rights of these people for whom you Mr..Anglin makes your verbal plea. The Legislature’s failure to act on their behalf is no apparent  lack of education on this subject, since you have expressed your knowledge on the matter in your speech very well with all the necessary whistles and bells to convince us that you at least are aware of  the citizens responsibility towards the disabled, but you have not included the important aspects of YOUR  responsibility towards the disabled as a Lawmaker that is more than able to MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR THEM.!

          The  good news of the  role of the Advisory and Steering Committee For Persons With Disabilities is appreciated, but we are holding government responsible as  lawmakers to pass the necessary legislation to ensure the rights, privileges and protection of the disabled NOT THE COMMITTEE!   Let us dispense from this ruse that  our governments have always had a scape goat ready to slaughter all in the name of "the committee" while shunning  their responsibility to deliver on what they themselves are being paid to do. It does not work.

        There are many members of our society wondering why our government has not already pushed for urgent enactment of the the law in the constitution that protects  these special needs citizens in our society? I think that it is a reasonable request that the Premier, the UDP, and the entire legislature including the opposition  needs to DO THE JOB you were hired to do, and pass and enact the Law that protects the rights of the Disabled. These people are much more important than the rest of us and that includes all of you.

         There are arguments that it is our moral obligation to respect the rights of the disabled, and it  is your first duty as an elected member to ensure the speedy expedition of  the law for  protection of such rights in  the constitution and I’m sure you will agree that this should take place  ASAP!

        I don’t think it is politically or morally expedient for us to have this conversation again anytime soon  as I am sure that to at least save your face you will act on this matter straightway.

     

  10. Anonymous says:

    another day …another ‘soon come’ story from the government…

    just wait for mckeeva big ‘soon come’ story in 15 days!…..