Min. of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe, applauded organizers of the Caribbean Telecommunication Union ICT Week, 2022 for encouraging the participation of Persons with Disabilities through the hosting of two Workshops designed specifically for Persons with Disabilities. Hosted by the Government of The Bahamas, in collaboration with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, the Week concluded Friday (September 9) at Margaritaville Beach Resort, West Bay Street.
The Workshops featured hands-on sessions for persons with disabilities who are Blind or Visually Impaired, Deaf or Hard of Hearing, or with mobility challenges, to demonstrate in a tangible manner, the impact ICTs (Information Communication Technologies) can have on their lives thus leading to greater independence and inclusion. Minister Wilchcombe delivered the Keynote Address at the Morning Session.
(Participants also heard from Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Mr. Wayde Watson; Mr. Rodney Taylor, Secretary-General, Caribbean Telecommunications Union; Mr. Carlton Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) and Miss Erin Brown, Disability Advocate and Inclusion Consultant.) “I think it is imperative for us to appreciate that what we are doing here today is so important and whose time has come,” Minister Wilchcombe told his audience.
“I’ve been to many conferences over my many years in public life and disability, the disabled, are never on the agenda. So to put it on the Agenda means that you have lifted it to a particular level and you have made sure that the world and your colleagues appreciate that this issue is fundamental if we are to advance peoples of the world and also to embrace the simple word, equality, because I have discovered since becoming Minister that the word is used, and yes, the United Nations is correct in adopting the word and causing for equality to be considered, but what bothers me most is that the word is used very often, but is not practically applied.
“I want to encourage the CTU because it is imperative that we take the message throughout the Commonwealth, throughout the Caribbean, throughout the world. That we ensure that every individual is treated with equality and that every individual has an opportunity to dream and to live that dream. We all have our differences, but no man is different,” Minister Wilchcombe added.
Chair of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Ms. Nalini Bethel also had high praise for Friday’s Session for Persons with Disabilities.
“I think it was very well done and useful for Persons with Disabilities,” she said. “For our community to learn more about the various kinds of technological advances that are available to help equalize the playing field for persons with disabilities; to help advance and expand opportunities for the community; to provide them with a pathway to independence, was significant because it is really important for them to know that everything is accessible just as with everybody else. There is a way to be independent with technology.”
The NCPD Chair said the Commission is undertaking a number of key initiatives to advance equality and inclusion for Persons with Disabilities.
“One of our key initiatives is the promoting the rights of Persons with Disabilities because there are still a lot of people who are not even aware that they have a right to equality, accessibility and inclusion. In addition to that, we are developing an App – ‘Access Ability Bahamas’. We just received a grant to enhance the App that is available on Google Store and Apple Store for download. The grant will allow us to add some additional features to the App, which we should be launching in December,” Ms. Bethel added.
By MATT MAURA/Bahamas Information Services