A seven-member delegation from the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) traveled to Grand Bahama on Thursday, March 23 visiting schools and other stakeholders, including the Ministry for Grand Bahama, the Department of Social Services and Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA).
According to Lester Ferguson, NCPD Executive Secretary the purpose of the visit was to bring more awareness to the Persons with Disabilities Act and the responsibility, “we all have as a community to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are protected.”
“We are here to share with the children that persons with disabilities have rights and that we all have a responsibility to protect those rights,” said Ferguson during a special assembly at Maurice Moore Primary School.
“Usually when we talk about rights we refer to and expect grown-ups to do it, but children have a responsibility as well and they usually get the message quicker than the adults. So we want to encourage them to be a champion for the rights of persons with disabilities.
“We also want persons to know that the deadline for all buildings to become accessible is December 31 of this year,” Ferguson reminded.
“That is one of the things that we are doing here today helping people to understand what that deadline means and why it is important to ensure that all buildings that the public may enter are accessible for all persons with disabilities.
“For the most part, we have a lot of older buildings in the country so they are a little bit more challenging in becoming ready, but a lot of the newer buildings are becoming compliant.”
Ferguson said that the owners of older buildings are mindful of the need to upgrade, “and we don’t get a lot of push back from them wanting to becoming compliant, because they understand the need of respecting the rights of persons with disabilities.”
With the new junior high school under construction here on Grand Bahama, Ferguson noted that NCPD has a buildings’ control officer with the Ministry of Works and through his office, they try to ensure that all government buildings are becoming accessible.
“So while we are here we would want to have a conversation about that.”
Additionally, to assist disabled persons with parking there is going to be a change in legislation so that when persons park in disabled spots they are actually ticketed,” he disclosed.
“Right now building and business owners are encouraged to take their own measures to ensure that the public does not abuse the parking spots. It is a huge problem nationally, but we are hoping that the amendment to the legislation would give some teeth to it so that people would not abuse disabled parking.
“Bahamians have no problem complying with these laws when they travel overseas and I don’t know why we do it here, and we are hoping that that will change.
“Accessibility and disability inclusion are the mantra of the commission to ensure that The Bahamas, not just in terms of the buildings, is an inclusive place for persons with and without disabilities,” said Ferguson.
Published Monday, March 27, 2017