Tag Archives: The Bahamas

Help in Bahamas

Dotting the archipelagic state of The Bahamas are eight organizations caring for persons with disabilities: the Disabled Persons’ Organizations, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Bahamas Down Syndrome Association, Bahamas Alliance for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Northern Bahamas Council for the Disabled, Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled, and Eyes wide Open.

The oldest is the DPO. It was founded in 1981 that advocates for the rights and equality of PWDs, and provides support and services where possible.

The youngest is the Department of Social Services Disability Affairs and Senior Citizens Division. It was instituted last year to provide opportunities for empowerment, as well as ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities.

In between are the Bahamas Alliance for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which supports and assists persons who are blind and visually impaired; the Bahamas Down Syndrome Association, which intends to change the mentality of the society regarding children with Down syndrome and educate those who do not have it; and the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, which carries out the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities Act.

After it was formally constituted and appointed in December 2014, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities has gone on amending the Road Traffic Act and Housing Act; initiating awareness; exploring policies and initiatives; addressing discrimination; and registering PWDs as well as the organizations for them in the Bahamas.

Other organizations for the PWDs in the Bahamas are the Northern Bahamas Council for the Disabled, the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled, and the Eyes wide Open.

“Every person with a disability — whether they have physical impairments, development or learning impairments, sensory or visual, hearing and speech impairments — every one, has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Every person with a disability has the right to be included and participate in society. Every person with a disability has the right to full protection under the law, and the right to equal access and opportunities to health care, education, employment and transportation.” ~ Melanie Griffin

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ZNSNetwork

Townsely Roberts & Gary Russell

The Bahamas has two citizens one may not consider persons with disabilities: Townsely Roberts and Gary Russell.

Roberts is an accountant. He graduated from The College of the Bahamas in 1995 with an associate degree in Accounting and Computer Data Processing before getting employed by the company that owns Wendy’s and Marco’s Pizza for the next 20 years as an accountant manager.

His greatest benefit was the support of his mother and teachers. Her mother who just listened when the doctor told her that Roberts had to have his left leg above the knee amputated (a peanut butter and jelly jar had been thrown at the back of Roberts’ knee when he was five) and his teachers who refused to just let him sit in a corner while his classmates learn playing basketball, softball, and soccer.

Today, the former president of the Bahamas National Council for Disability (BNCD) is focused on helping other PWDs have employment in the country. He is one of those who believed that the Bahamian public must be educated “on the realities of what disability is.”

Russel is the current chairman of The Music Makers Junkanoo Group and the senior examiner of the Bahamas Compliance Commission. Right after his bones were fractured in a severe car accident when he was 23, Russell went back to his previous job in Marketing and Sales. He even became its acting general manager until the company closed. He pursued Law at The College of the Bahamas after that with an associate degree in Law and Criminal Justice then his bachelor’s and master’s at the University of Buckingham.

Prior to that, Russell worked as a chef from 1979 to 1986 and a sales marketer from 1986 to 1997. He got support from people “willing to accommodate him” all throughout then. He was taught to bathe himself, dress himself, cook for himself, climb in a cupboard, and drive.

Only the thought of not being to change quickly into a basketball gear as soon as he gets off from work tormented Russell. Still, he was able to participate at the Jackson Rehabilitation Centre in Miami. He is giving back to the culture of the Bahamas these days through the arts of Junkanoo, a Bahamian style of dance music that evolved from the traditional music of West Africa.

“It’s okay to fall. You got to learn how to fall. When you fail is how you learn, even the disabled.” ~Townsely Roberts

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ZNS Network

Bahamas

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