The following is a message by Kerryann Ifill SCM, president, Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD).
“As the Barbados Council for the Disabled joins the global community in recognising International Day of Persons With Disabilities 2020, we at BCD, our affiliates, staff and partners have with our world weathered one of the worst storms in the history of the council which this year celebrated 44 years of existence.
“We pause on this day to reflect on the importance of continued efforts to maintain the ground we’ve attained, but to forge new paths and bridges. This year, we have all learnt how fragile our treasured lives are as we watched the devastation COVID-19 has taken on our lives, our mental health, our economic security and, in a very real way, our very identity as a people.
“And yet, we have also been afforded the opportunity to rebuild an even more inclusive society in which we the citizens who live with and daily experience the limitations, isolation, limited resources and a multitude of other difficulties, we are very much aware of the many opportunities for growth which we have also gained.
“Our world has been transformed into a largely digital space, removing physical barriers to inclusion and this fact should ensure that the progress thus made can be expanded upon. Such services became essential when we were restricted in our opportunities to access, but as we move back to a regular everyday existence the residual legacy of inclusion must not be lost!
“In order to realise this year’s theme of “building back better, toward a disability inclusive, accessible and sustainable post Covid-19 world”, we call on Government, the private sector, civil society and indeed every citizen of Barbados and beyond to:
• Develop remote working opportunities for persons with disabilities to be employed in larger numbers.
• Provide the requisite supports for children with disabilities and their families to obtain their education, develop much-needed legislative policies to mitigate the ongoing discrimination.
• Recognise that building with universal access to service at the core of our programmes, we will be affording everyone within our communities to contribute to building back a better country which will be even stronger to withstand the dark clouds which may appear on our horizons.
“The council, its affiliates and partners also take this opportunity of IDPD2020 to signal our extreme pleasure that our dear friend and longtime supporter Senator Doctor Floyd Morris, Caricom’s first Special Rapporteur for persons with disabilities, has been elected to serve on the Committee for the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.
“His election could not have been more appropriate as it was his signature on behalf of Jamaica which was the first to adopt and ratify the convention when it was opened for ratification in March of 2007.
“Congratulations Senator Morris. The Barbados Council for the Disabled salutes you . . . and extends to all its pledge of continued advocacy, guidance and support to ensure that we finally fully realise of our vision.”