December 3 is observed annually as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). The day was proclaimed in 1992 by a United Nations resolution and is aimed at promoting understanding of disability issues and mobilising support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of society – political, social, economic and cultural.
- Over a billion people, about 15 per cent of the world’s population, have some form of disability.
- Between 110 million and 190 million adults have significant difficulties in functioning.
- Rates of disability are increasing due to population ageing and increases in chronic health conditions, among other causes.
- People with disabilities have less access to health care services and therefore experience unmet health care needs.
- Jamaica’s National Policy for Persons with Disabilities was tabled in Parliament on September 26, 2000. It is geared towards:
- Setting guidelines and directions for the Government, for the equalization of opportunities for people with disabilities.
- Assisting government in strengthening its capacity to address disability issues as well as assist individual agencies to improve their capacity to address disability issues within their area of functional responsibility.
- Providing a framework for agencies of government to cooperate in developing and implementing policies designed to provide equal opportunities for people with disabilities in all aspects of life.
- Assisting government in implementing the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
- Jamaica was the first country in the world to sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in March 2007. The Convention sets out the guidelines related to:
- Right to life
- Situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies
- Equal recognition before the law
- Access to justice
- Liberty and security of the person
- Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
- Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse
- Protecting the integrity of the person
- Liberty of movement and nationality
- Living independently and being included in the community
- Personal mobility
- Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information
- Respect for privacy
- Respect for and the family
- Habilitation and rehabilitation
- Work and employment
- Adequate standard of living and social protection
- Participation in political and public life
- Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport
- The Disabilities Act, which makes provisions to safeguard and enhance the welfare of persons with disabilities across Jamaica, was passed in the Senate on October 10, 2014.
- Senator Floyd Morris is the first blind person to become President of the Jamaican Senate. He was elected to the position in 2013.
The Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, which falls under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, is the government agency responsible for rehabilitations, vocational training and placement of persons with disabilities in Jamaica.
Here are several other organisations and agencies dedicated to advocating for and supporting persons with disabilities: