Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, Monday met with Commissioners of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities during which time they discussed the way forward.The community of persons with disabilities celebrates Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas, December 1-7. The Week opened Sunday with a Church Service. Headed by Mr. Lester Ferguson, who is in his second stint as Commission Chairman, the Commission has been meeting with Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, Mr. Michael Foulkes, discussing and reviewing legislation among other matters.
Monday’s meeting with Minister Campbell also addressed a number of matters. Minister Campbell said the discussions will allow stakeholders to synchronize their efforts in order to ensure greater,future successes. “It is important that we synchronize our voices; that we synchronize our efforts to ensure that we avoid any kind of duplication, to ensure that together we identify all of the low-hanging fruits so that at the end of the day some success would have been manifested as a result of all of the internal discussions we have been having,” Minister Campbell said. “Moving forward, I think it would be safe to say that members of the general public and the community of persons with disabilities will learn more about of the work that is being done, they will be the beneficiaries of more public service announcements, more signage, more activity in terms of inspecting and reviewing the processes that take place at government buildings and other public spaces/places.
“They will also learn more about the legislation that will give teeth to the whole question of parking in spaces that have been reserved for persons with disabilities. We want to regulate that whole concept; regulate the process of issuing and the period for which decals are issued, and take away any conflicts that may exist in order to ensure compliance and accessibility, while leveling the playing field all around.” Minister Campbell said statistics show that there are 10,000-plus persons in The Bahamas living with disabilities. He said global indicators would suggest that the figure could be higher, considering the fact that there are persons who are living with disabilities who do not consider themselves as having a disability, while others continue to refuse to provide an accounting of those family members who are living with disabilities.
“That suggests to me that there are a number of persons out there who would not have given an account of family members who are living with disabilities even during a Census,” Minister Campbell said. “That being said, our hope is to undertake a number of initiatives that will encourage those persons to step forward and give an account of those family members who are living with disabilities.” Minister Campbell said public/private partnership and cooperation is needed to ensure inclusion and accessibility for the community of persons with disabilities.
“For example, perhaps some financial institution would research the feasibility regarding the introduction of an ATM that speaks to our blind and visually impaired; perhaps our communications institutions can extend their reach to an even wider audience by catering to persons who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing – things along those lines and others. There is a wide area to cover. That area can decrease if more persons see and feel the need to participate in covering those areas. If we each do a little, together we can do a lot,” Minister Campbell added.