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February 25, 2014
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Persons with disabilities shunned by employers

Bjorn Burke, Staff Reporter

Jamaicans with disabilities, who are able to work and support themselves, remain figuratively crippled as they are shunned from potential employment, with little opportunities for independent economic advancement.

"It is extremely difficult, at times, because employers automatically assess you by how you walk, or how you look, and by the disability you have. They either place you by what they think you can do, or they don't place you at all," said Natalia McPherson, as she recounted her journey of finding work.

McPherson, who graduated from the University of the West Indies, Mona, in 2005, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Sciences and International Relations, was left disabled when she was involved in a motor- vehicle accident in 2010, which caused her to partially lose function of her left leg.

The Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), a government agency which lends assistance to the disabled, provides vocational training and placement services.

Adrienne Pinnock, public education officer, JCPD, told THE STAR that persons with disabilities come in with varying skills and qualifications, which determine how and where they are placed.

"While not satisfying the demand 100 per cent, we help in several areas. we are not just looking at menial employment. Manufacturing industries and the banking industry are some of the leaders in terms of the employment of persons with disabilities," said Pinnock

She said whereas JCPD is doing its part in helping to find gainful employment for the disabled, there is still a stigma attached to employing the disabled, which employers ought to quell.

Name changed on request.

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