Long road for disability policy

| 09/05/2014

(CNS): The Steering Committee driving the Cayman Islands towards a new policy to ensure that people with disabilities are not discriminated against say they are determined not to let their report end up on a shelf gathering dust like other policy initiatives. So, as well as determining specific goals, they are also outlining detailed action plans, identifying who does what and when and laying out a monetary timeframe for each goal to be accomplished. The Cayman Islands Disability Policy 2014-2033 (because the committee believes it will take two decades to implement it in its entirety) aims to ensure that those with disabilities live with dignity, are respected and have the opportunity to participate fully in society.

“This is not just for people with disabilities; it is for all of us because we never know what challenges will face us until they hit us,” according to committee member Shari Smith, Director of the Sunrise Adult Training Centre.

The public consultation phase, in which members of the committee gave presentations, listened to feedback and answered questions in all the districts, has now ended and the committee will now compile and analyse the data collected through the meetings as well as the online surveys, Smith said.

“The core team will present this information, along with suggestions on whether changes to the actual policy needs to occur, or whether areas have been addressed through the various strategies and action plans, to the Steering Committee for approval on edits and recommendations,” Smith told CNS. 

At the same time a Cabinet paper on the policy is being drafted and she said the plan is to have recommendations, edits, and the Cabinet paper completed for end of June to submit for Cabinet approval. In addition to the Cabinet paper, the Legal Subcommittee is also working to complete their work on the recommendations and guidelines for the formulation of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and the Secretariat, which is recommended in the policy, as well as the recommendations for legislation of a Disability Law and recommendations to existing laws to bring in line with the policy and legislation for persons with disabilities, Smith said.

The wide-ranging draft policy includes big budget initiatives that may take time, such as a purpose-built training facility in a centralised location for people with disabilities to replace the Sunrise Centre, which has long been identified as inadequate for its purpose, as well as far less costly goals that can be implemented quickly.

Quality education for all ages is a primary goal, not just focusing on making sure that suitable curriculums and courses are available and that special needs children and adults are given the right services, but also ensuring that the physical barriers to learning, for example making sure that all government facilities are wheelchair accessible, are eliminated.

Because of gaps in rehabilitation and habilitation services, sometimes people have to leave the Cayman Islands in order to receive the services they need so that they can live a more independent life. Currently, the draft document notes, some families are having to split up, so that one parent takes a child with disabilities aboard to get the help they need, while the other parent stays at home with the other children. 

Another major goal is ensuring that everyone has access to high quality healthcare, including mental health patients. A significant area of concern is health insurance and the draft document outlines a number of issues, including that under the current law, the basic Standard Health Insurance Contract (SHIC) Plan does not cover assistive devices that may be required for persons with disabilities. There is also no one responsible for ensuring full compliance by employers and health insurance providers. Services such as speech and occupational therapy are covered only where medically necessary, and so in many instances these are left to the discretion of the insurance provider rather than the health care practitioner.

Equal job opportunities is another major goal, starting with the first challenge: convincing employers to consider them when hiring. A broad goal to ensure that people with disabilities enjoy their highest level of independence and full inclusion in society, includes appropriate strategies to deal with discrimination and stigmatization, as well as practical matters, such as making government buildings accessible, equal access to public transportation, and making sure that people with disabilities and their caregivers have access to the information they need.

Currently the collection, analysis and dissemination of information on persons with disabilities is limited, the draft document notes. Therefore, the committee is proposing a National Register of Persons with Disabilities (NRPWD), which, among its many benefits, would give policy makers a base to prioritise policies and prepare budgets.

Constant policy evaluation is a critial part of making sure that this policy document stays current and does not end up on a dusty shelf. Therefore, the National Council for Persons with Disabilities will not only monitor the implementation of the policy and review the results but will also take a proactive approach to adjusting it to keep up with changes to priorities, obligations, expectations, as well as resources.

See the draft document below.

To contact the Steering Committee:

• Email Shari.Smith@gov.ky (CIDPSC Secretary) or Robert.Lewis@gov.ky (CIDPSC Chair), 
• Dedicated email: ci.disabilitypolicy@gmail.com ; or
Radio Cayman’s Facebook, or
• Write to Cabinet Office at P.O. Box 105 KY1-9000

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The disabled parking space next to Cafe Del Sol sums up the attiude to disability.  If one drvies a very large car, especially the flatbeds or Hummers, you get to park in disabled spots apparently.  Especially if you are fat or angry or both.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I'm delighted to say that, in this particular regard, Government schools actually fare somewhat better than Grand Cayman's private secondary schools. Take a careful look at the mainstream schools on the island and it is very clear that children with physical and intellectual disabilities arenot welcome. At primary level, one or two may be tolerated, but by secondary level, there is little to no provision or tolerance. In fact, I might be so bold to say that we are in the midst of a 'cleansing' period that shouldmake us all very scared for the future.

    Put simply: these children require schools to be less formulaic, more flexible; to value things that don't fit into an A – F mark scheme and to allocate the necessary resources to supporting children who do not fit their narrow-minded view of 'normal' – whatever that means. The current trend seems to be to put them all into special schools – palming them off is so clear cut; so neat and easy, but really, it is ensuring that all the little Mr. and Miss Perfects never have to look at or interact with children who are considered too 'different'. Fast forward into adult life, and it's little wonder that these individuals are marginalised and not afforded the opportunity to live full, independent, successful lives as integral members of our society. 


  3. Anonymous says:

    put kurt in charge…… he'll get things moving…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  4. Anonymous says:

    The local attitude to mental health is so backwards it is embarrassing.  I remember when a new health insurer explained benefits and simply in passing said "no cover for mental illness".

  5. Anonymous says:

    A round of applause for the “motors” behind this movement. It is high time that a country with so many handicapable persons are given the dignity they deserve. We make certain that perks are awarded to those in government why should those that are equal not be afforded the same privilege of being treated with respect.

  6. Anonymous says:

    There are third world countries that do a better job taking care of their weakest.

    What a joke.

    Is that christianity ?

    People don't realize that in this country once you end up in a wheelchair, you probably lose your job, then your house and you are on the street or a burden to your family.


  7. Anonymous says:

    In 1976, the General Assembly proclaimed 1981 as the International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP)*. It called for a plan of action at the national, regional and international levels, with an emphasis on equalization of opportunities, rehabilitation and prevention of disabilities.

    The theme of IYDP was "full participation and equality", defined as the right of persons with disabilities to take part fully in the life and development of their societies, enjoy living conditions equal to those of other citizens, and have an equal share in improved conditions resulting from socio-economic development.

    Other objectives of the Year included: increasing public awareness; understanding and acceptance of persons who are disabled; and encouraging persons with disabilities to form organizations through which they can express their views and promote action to improve their situation.

    A major lesson of the Year was that the image of persons with disabilities depends to an important extent on social attitudes; these were a major barrier to the realization of the goal of full participation and equality in society by persons with disabilities.


    CAYMAN…. the islands that forgot to advance with time……..sad

  8. Anonymous says:

    In addition to needed health insurance improvements; it is practically impossible to access life insurance…beacuse of "pre-existing condition".

    This in turn makes it  mostly impossible for a person with a disability to get a mortgage (even when he / she is able to work) as the banks require "Life Insurance" for access to a mortgage. Therefore the person with a disabilty is left to either depend on family (or possibly rent) for their own living accomodation.

    CINICO (and by extention CIG) should either provide for life insurance or mandate that "pre-existing condintions" be illegal and therby removed as a reason which private insurance companies use to deny life insurance coverage.

  9. Anonymous says:

    If you go to Hurleys or Fosters you would swear that half the island is disabled. What a crock. If you had less disabled spaces and actualyy enforced them, you'd be fine. PC gone wild again.

    • Anonymous says:

      The disabled should spare the obese of Cayman that have to waddle those additional 5 feet on their fully functional legs, to get to yet more food, because they'd prefer not to?  Do you hear yourself?!?

    • Anonymous says:

      It does not stop people parking in them, last week I wanted to park near the pharmacy with my disabled son, I saw a guy running from his car in the disabled space I stopped and asked him to move. I got I won't be long and my wife is in the car…..So move it then, also stop parking on the lines right outside the door often in the drop kerbs. If you come back and your car is dented its because I am going to start hitting cars with my sons wheelchair when you are so inconsiderate. 

      I often wish I could ticked people, tell you what I will give $50 tickets keep $5 for doing it and give the government the other $45 I recon I could make more money than my current job doing that!

  10. Anonymous says:

    “This is not just for people with disabilities; it is for all of us because we never know what challenges will face us until they hit us,”

    Tell that to the Immigration Department.