Categorized | National News

Over 10,000 Disabled Bahamians– Minister Signs UN Convention

Based on the numbers coming out of the 2010 census, there are between 10,000 and 15,000 Bahamians living with some form of a disability; a number that officials say is much lower than the true figure.

Nonetheless, it gives the government a good idea of the task at hand.

Yesterday Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin signed The Bahamas on to the U.N. convention for the rights of persons with disabilities.

In doing so, The Bahamas became the 157th country to do so, setting the framework for the introduction of national disability legislation.

Prime Minister Perry Christie recently announced that the legislation should be before Parliament before the end of the year.

During the document signing in New York yesterday morning, Minister Griffin called the moment “historic.”

“The Bahamas is proud to be among the signatories to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,”she said.

“In so doing, we commit to take the necessary steps to act in good faith in fulfillment of the purposes of the convention.”
Chief Welfare Officer for the Disabilities Affairs Division, Leonard Cargill said he couldn’t be more pleased with hearing of the signing and that legislation is in the near future for The Bahamas that secures the equality of disabled people.

“You see, disabled people want the same opportunities as everyone else,” he said.

“They want training. They want a hand up and they want transportation. Another key thing that they want is transportation and we should be able to facilitate that for them. Generally in our country, we need to work on having more consideration for other people and the whole concept is that if people buy into the idea that we’re all in this together, then we can make this country a better place.”

According to Minister Griffin, the draft disability legislation includes a framework for establishing a national commission for disabled persons.

Mr. Cargill is expecting that commission to really be the teeth of the proposed legislation.

“This legislation will be done by giving the commission teeth,” he said.

“For example, if you have a building that’s open to the public, then that building must be accessible to all members of the public. So the commission will give people the opportunity to make their building accessible for the disabled. It will ensure that mainly schools and hospitals are accessible. Anything that applies to the benefit of people with disabilities, then the legislation will guarantee those rights.”

For the people that do not comply with the new legislation, Mr. Cargill said there will be penalties put in place.

Mr. Cargill added that Bahamians with disabled family members should not be ashamed of them.

In fact, he said they should contact the Disability Affairs Division at their Centerville office at 325-2251.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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