Advocate wants more jobs for the disabled
Disability advocate Damian McLean is calling on the Government to lead the way in ensuring that persons with disabilities (PWDs) are employable and can make a contribution to their families.
McLean Spoke to THE WEEKEND STAR ahead of Disabilities Awareness Week, which will be observed from December 4 to December 9.
"The current government policy where five per cent of the space in the civil service is reserved for persons with disabilities is very low," he said.
While acknowledging the Government has made strides in making PWDs more inclusive in Jamaican society, he said the quota needs to be increased so that persons with disabilities can show what they are made of.
McLean said PWDs have families and the Government needs to lead the way in ensuring that they can provide for them.
"People with disabilities have families and want to eat food like everybody else, and the Government has to show the private sector the way, they have to do the demonstration," McLean said.
Executive Director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, Christine Hendricks, said that while various entities have been making an effort to make their physical spaces more accessible to PWDs, more needs to be done to ensure that information is also accessible to that group.
"A barrier-free society is not just the physical environment. We also want the information and the communication from different companies to be barrier-free, so PWDs can understand and communicate with service providers," she said in a recent interview with the Jamaica Information Service.
But, while acknowledging that accessibility is an issue, McLean said that there is a need for Jamaica to move beyond just making our society accessible for persons with disabilities.
"Yes, those things need to be addressed, but we need to see more concrete stuff being done. Because what is the use putting in the ramps and making organisations ready for disabled persons if the people are not employed?" McLean reasoned.
The Disabilities Awareness Week will kick-start with a national church service on Sunday, December 4, at Grace Baptist Church, May Pen, Clarendon. On Monday, there will be a public lecture hosted by the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.