Officials begin work on national disability policy

| 05/07/2013

disability discrimination wheelchair employment law florida.jpg(CNS): More than four years after the legal sub-committee submitted its report to the previous PPM government on the legislative environment in Cayman relating to people with disabilities, the administrative arm of government has turned its attention to the issue again. According to a release from the Cabinet Office, a national policy for persons with disabilities is in theworks. The document, “Ensuring persons with disabilities live with dignity, are respected and participate fully in society”, is said to be the vision of stakeholders involved who are now meeting to develop guidance on addressing challenges facing the disabled. Officials said a draft policy is expected to be presented for public consultation by the end of summer, and a final version sent to Cabinet before the year end.

The policy group includes four people with disabilities and representatives from the special needs community and other public officials. The policy is being developed largely by impacted stakeholders, including representatives from Sunrise Adult Training Centre, Special Olympics, Lighthouse School, Sunrise Caring Association, Harmony Learning Centre, parent representatives, as well as those with disabilities. The stakeholders are also supported by a legal representative, ministries with responsibility for education, health, community affairs and the Cabinet Office.

The group already completed goals and strategies speaking to the needs of people with disabilities for quality education, equal employment opportunities, the highest standards of healthcare, independence, as well as full inclusion in society. A final goal calls for routine collection, analysis and distribution of information on people with disabilities to inform policy, legislation and services.

The Cabinet Office said it was assigned the task of coordinating the development of the policy toward ensuring a comprehensive approach by private, civil society and public stakeholders. Director of the Policy Coordination Unit of the Cabinet Office, Robert Lewis, is leading the policy development process on the Steering Committee, assisted by Policy Subcommittee Chair Shari Smith and Legal Subcommittee Chair Myrtle Brandt.

“We are converting and updating previous reports into a national policy intended to provide guidance on full inclusion of persons with disabilities in society,” said Lewis. “We also hope that the document will be an example of policy development and implementation best practice going forward. To this end – among other matters — the policy will include targets, phasing plans, provisions for policy monitoring, evaluation, review and change. The new policy will draw heavily on documents drafted locally since 2007, including reports by the ‘Planning the Future for Persons with Disabilities in the Cayman Islands Steering Committee'.”

Officials said the policy, which will need to respect the Bill of Rights in the Constitution and ensure equal rights for persons with disabilities, is a national imperative that will lead the way for a much need bill covering legislation for persons with disabilities. 

A legal subcommittee has also been tasked with covering this area, chaired by Myrtle Brandt. The membership includes Sonji Myles (Deputy Chair), Vaughan Carter, Keith Parker Tibbetts Jr, Kimberly Voaden, Charles Brown, Tommy Ebanks, Kimberly Kirkconnell, and Sheila Alvarez.

Finita Ebanks said that, as someone living with a disability, it is of great interest to her to be a part of the country’s efforts to meet the needs of the disabled community.

Keith Parker also said it was important that those with disabilities contribute to the policy development in an area in need of strong community support. Parker pointed out the diversity of experiences of those with disabilities in the local community but emphasised the point that the disabled are people first.

“I am a normal person who happens to be missing a leg, and that is how I should be treated,” he added

Sixteen-year-old student Branden Rivers and former Global Messenger for Special Olympics, Leonardo Bodden, agree that as young Caymanians with disabilities, they also want to “do their part” for the disabled community.

The Special Olympics representative on the committee, Antoinette Johnson, said the participatory approach that the process has taken so far towards persons with disabilities is in keeping with her organisation’s philosophy.

“Special Olympics believe that with sports training and competition, athletes with disabilities lead fuller, more self-sufficient lives, and are able to achieve success on and off the field of competition. So we are very pleased to be part of the process of developing a policy for the Cayman Islands that will ensure that persons with disabilities can enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms and have full inclusion in our society,” she added.

The 2010 National Census found that the two top disabilities in the Cayman Islands are sight and lower limb disabilities. Further statistical information about persons with disabilities is available from the Census, which can be found online at

Anyone who would like to share their thoughts on this subject is invited to contact Robert Lewis (244-3602) at the Cabinet Office or Shari Smith (949-3330) at Sunrise Adult Training Centre.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Attitudes at high levels need to change.


    True story.


    When construction started on the new Government Administration Building, the parking lot behind the Glass House was re-organized. Two disabled parking spots were painted in next to the door into the Glass House. This was how it should be. Several days later, the lines were repainted, the two disabled parking slots were moved to the right, farther away from the doors so that a self-important elected official would not be forced to walk an extra 20 feet or so from his car to the Glass House door.


    With government leaders like these, do not expect much enforcement form any law that supports the disabled in Cayman.


    By the way, as a side note, a government employee parked his big monster pick uptruck every day in one of the disabled spots. His disability? He was (is) a lazy fat bastard who would have benefited greatly from the 2 minute walk from the regular parking lot.


    I applaud the folks who are pushing the nation disability policy, I just hope that they are prepared for the resistance that they will get from very powerful people.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Luckily there is a whole planet of established building and ramp codes that we can look to and learn from.  Universal access has been incorporated into the Human Rights Charters of many countries and their National Building Codes reflect these Rights for at least a couple decades now.  Cayman's committees should be consulting the Americans with Disabilities Act (, and Canadian National Building Code (CNBC), in particular, Section of CNBC which relates to minimum requirements for wheel chair ramps, landings, and railings (eg. must be min 36 inches wide).  Some of the individual provinces have additional, more stringient requirements.

    • Anonymous says:

      well said…why is cig going to great time and expense to try and re-invent something that has already been established in the civilised world??????

      more cig waste…

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would hope that these committees consult with the many disabled diver groups who visit the islands every year: ie. Stay Focused, Diveheart Foundation, Dive Pirates, Patriots for Disabled Divers, Wounded Warrior Project, etc.  For many, it's an ordeal justgetting off the airplane on arrival.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Could post 14.33 explain the comment 'far exceeding national requirements'. I am disabled but can still drive so long as I dont have to walk far once I reach my destination. I would love a dollar for the number of times I have had to abort an errand or visit because some inconsiderate able bodied person has decided that they are more important than me. Their lack of care and consideration prevents  me from keeping my independance.Perhaps if everyone in Cayman respected the rights of the disabled we wouldnt need so many parking spots!  

  5. Anonymous says:

    Shows how "Christian" Mac's regime was that they did nothing to help the disabled of Cayman in all that time.  Probably because there was no money in it for them.

  6. Extra Terrestrial says:

    I continue to be impressed by the young man Mr. Brandon Rivers! I look forward to his continued contributions to, and for Cayman and those who call it home.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Can anyone tell CNS readers roughly how many disabled parking  permits have been issued in Cayman? Calls to the Licensing Dept were answered, but no one was able to offer any information. My observation is that disabled parking spaces far exceed the national requirement. I'm not disabled myself, so someone who is might have something interesting to say about this.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not sure that it makes sense to compare the number of permits with the number of parking spots on the entire island. The number of disabled persons changes every day, the number of parking spots don’t. Also, being disabled isn’t like winning the parking lot lottery. It’s hard. For every pain, ache, indignity that you experience, someone who could run a marathon and yet wants to park 2 steps closer, steps that don’t mean anything to them but may result in a disabled person being in agony, is complaining on a website that things are so much easier for you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Doesn't really matter how many there are if lazy XXXX keep parking in them with no ticketing.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have both of my legs thank God, however I can hardly get out of my car once I have been sitting in it for driving for a good distance. I cannot walk for much of a distance without pain. I hardly get to sleep because of pains all from an accident. I spoke to someone about a handicapp parking ticket and I was told that I would not qualify as I was not in a wheel chair. I am not in a wheel chair because of ambition, however most of the time I feel as if I should be in one. Anyhow I always try to park as close as possible and if there is no space I do park in handicapp spaces. Please tell me how do I go about getting a parking ticket. Can we get some intelligent and understanding people to deal with this Ozzie? He who feels it knows it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your doctor can approve the permit. It costs $5 at the DVDL. if you’re that bad, your doctor should have no problems with signing the form. You can get the form from the DVDL or online.

    • Anonymous says:

      You don't have to be resident in the Cayman Islands to have a disabled parking permit.

  8. Anonymous says:

    maybe they could start enforcing the handicapped parking zones. I have a beautiful photo album of douche-bags from many companies, government vehicles, and of course police cars parked in the ones at ALT.  I even have a beauty of a well known electrical company taking 2 handicapped spaces with one douche-bag park!  It's my pride, that one is.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how anyone who is disabled so as they cannot climb stairs would be able to apply in person for a Police Clearance certificate…the Walkers Road office seems totally inaccessible to me…..

    • Anonymous says:

      You have a point – people that are disabled needs to have elevators, and not climb stairs, this only creates more problems, To fall and get limb broken or some other problem caused by trying to walk the stairs.  I believe all services to disabled/handicapped persons should always be catered on the ground floor.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just hope this can be resolved without bringing back those old wheel clampers…. Imported gold diggers.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with this post. Sometimes ago I had to climb those stairs and it was awful. So many Caymanians now a day even the young are complaining of terrible leg and bone pains. Dont even go there about those disgusting wheel clampers again. We have been so lucky that none of them was injured during the time that they were in force as they were on a big hig always looking to make the big dollars. They or at least most of them were here from Timbuck 2 to make a living regardless of how. A guy on the waterfront one afternoon pulled a knife on one who had no understanding when in front of the old Tower building a lady was parked buying fish for the Easter and the Tower Building gate was closed. Her car was not in the way of no one. Thank God no one was hurt after much deliberation.

      • Anonymous says:

        Easter smeaster. Rude law breakers every day. You knife pulling friend is lucky he didnt get a ‘stand your ground’