Inclusion matters

Council for the Disabled marks its 40th

The disabled community had come a long way from the stigma, discrimination and exclusion experienced from the 1960’s right up to the early 90’s, says a top official of the Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD).

However, addressing last night’s Christmas dinner and BCD awards ceremony at Mahogany Ridge, St James, BCD President Maria Holder-Small warned that the fight was by no means over.

“This journey has not been an easy one. However, we must continue fighting for our rights. We deserve equality and must value ourselves enough to see it,” she told the gathering.

Holder-Small also zeroed in on last night’s theme of Inclusion Matters: 40 Years Towards Access and Empowerment, saying it accurately reflected the struggles and successes of the council.

President of the Barbados Council for the Disabled Maria Holder-Small

Since its formation in 1976, BCD has been feverishly working to ensure that people with disabilities are no
longer sidelined.

The ultimate goal is to have a truly inclusive society where the rights of the disabled are safeguarded and the community is assured of equal rights.

However, while there has been noticeable success in terms of national recognition of March as the month for the disabled and the establishment of a national disabilities unit, members of the Council still face significant challenges.

Foremost among these is the issue of transportation even though it was acknowledged that through its association with the local masquerade band Power X Four and projects such as Get on the Bus and Stay on the Bus, the Council was able to acquire its first fully accessible bus.

Past president Senator Kerryann Ifill was also successful in getting Government to ratify the United Nations Convention on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

However, the Council remains keen on having the Road Traffic Act amended to allow for better policing of parking for the disabled.

Among those recognized last night for their contribution to the fight of the disabled community were Paul Bayne of the National United Society of the Blind, Terry Hope of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Barbados and Maureen L. Worrell of the Paralympic Association of Barbados.

Cheryl Griffith of the Barbados Association of the Blind and Deaf receiving her Distinguished Service Award.

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