After it has signed in the UN Convention on PWDs, the Bahamas promulgated the Equal Opportunities Act last November 3, 2014 and January 1, 2016.
Provisions were put into effect during the first implementation phase so that PWDs can obtain medical assistance; access training, counselling, and family services; apply for insurance, credit and lending services; and vote. Television stations were asked to provide sign language insets, closed captioning or sub-titles in all newscasts, educational programs, public notices, national emergencies and national events coverage.
In the second phase, fair treatment was reassured so that PWDs can be on a level pegging with the non-PWDs. Employers with more than 100 employees were mandated to employ at least 1% PWDs. Owners of public buildings were directed to allow free access to PWDs. Items donated to institutions and organizations of or for PWDs were eased off of customs duties and other taxes. The Minister of Finance was authorized to grant incentives to local enterprises that manufacture assistive or adaptive devices for use by PWDs.
Public telephone services were adjusted for the hearing and visually impaired. The Supreme Court Rules Committee was empowered to exempt PWDs from paying filing fees and provide assisted services to enable a PWD’s participation before the Court.
In December 2014, The Bahamas also established the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities comprised of 15 commissioners from the community of persons with disabilities themselves. It was to (1) ensure that the provisions of our Act are carried out and (2) monitor, evaluate and ensure the country’s compliance with the International Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities. The Bahamas has also marked October as the National Disability Employment Awareness month, awarding families of PWDs a disability allowance.
As of 2010, there are 5,250 male PWDs and 4,888 female PWDs in The Bahamas. Only one per cent of those 10,138 PWDs, though, are registered with the Department of Social Services.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ZNSNetwork