April 15, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Disability Draft Bill raises awareness

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Colin WilsonwebThe long awaited Cayman Islands National Disability Policy for 2014-2033 has been drafted and is available for public debate.

Please see our lead story in today’s iNews Cayman “Draft National Disability Policy published and feedback sought” and “Cayman’s new disability bill says not all disabled persons obtain learning” under today’s iNews Briefs

I urge everyone to attend the meetings that are listed with both stories.

“The document’s vision is ensuring that persons with disabilities can live with dignity, are respected, and have the opportunity to participate fully in society.”

Well said.

What is shocking is the revelation contained in the report that access to buildings, daily services, healthcare and job training/employment has often been denied to the estimated 3,000 disabled residents of the Cayman Islands.

How have we allowed that and are STILL allowing it?

Why should it be necessary to have to make legislation to enforce the remedies and recommendations in the Report that all of us in sound mind and body should have duty bound already executed willingly.

We are quick to pick up, cuddle and show much love and pity towards an injured and/or disabled animal but pull back when it comes to a disabled human being.

Why?

I found this statement on the Internet as I was browsing and it fits well into this Editorial:

“if the Church does not identify with the marginalized, it will itself be marginalized that is God’s poetic justice”. – Tim Keller.

And just what has our Cayman churches said about our disabled members? Have they been shouting off by our lack of compassion and services to their own church members with disabilities? Have they ever sat down with them and listened to their complaints/ have they ever even asked them about their problems?

Another Internet blog from a lady called Laura starts with the headline “They will know we are Christians…by how we shun?”

She writes:

‘Until several years ago, I had never experienced personally what it was like to be “marginalized”.  What do I mean by marginalized? To be seen as unimportant or insignificant…to be unheard and without a voice…patronized…confined to the outer margins of society…or even forced to a lower place…shunned.

‘Who were the marginalized of Jewish society when Jesus Christ walked the earth 2,000 years ago? Those with leprosy, and other incurable diseases. Women. Samaritans.  Jews in the service of Rome. Heathen (Gentiles).

‘Lepers were avoided. Samaritans were shunned. Jews in the service of Rome were despised. Women lacked basic rights. Indeed, Jewish men would say a prayer in the synagogue that included thanking God that they were not born female or Gentile or a slave.

‘Yet, these marginalized groups were the exact people that Jesus Christ reached out to. And the marginalized were also drawn to Jesus.

‘It is a terrible thing to be marginalized. To feel powerless, ignored, insignificant, without hope…alone.’

The following are some of the recommendations in the Report that we as a self-professed Christian society should have already in place:

installation of sounds and lights at pedestrian crossings

disabled evacuation assistance as part of the National Hazard Management Plan

mandatory improvement of disabled access to public buildings and spaces, including both government and private sector offices

more enforcement regarding disabled parking spaces (better time spent on this than the crackdown on illegal tint on vehicular windows!)

inpatient rehabilitation centre for the disabled as part of the public sector’s healthcare services

more provisions for the disabled added to the building codes

a government-appointed National Council for Persons with Disabilities, including a secretariat to support the council

provision of an adequate number of mental health professionals specializing in the treatment of persons with disabilities

identifying mental illness and people with learning disabilities

special needs for children with disabilities and help for their parents

more funding

job training for disabled persons

encouraging employers to add people with disabilities to the workforce

The lack of knowledge the majority of us have regarding our disabled friends is also addressed in the report.

There is also a need to actually register the numbers of persons here with disabilities that will actually give them some help. Not to just register them only as a statistic that is the case now.

I applaud the Bill and can only hope it doesn’t gather dust on some shelf and the meetings planned are well attended.

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