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December 14, 2002

plans for disabled

From: Barbados Advocate, West Indies - 14 Dec 2002

By Lisa Haynes

THE Urban Development Commission will be administering a special $100 000 fund which will make business funds available to members of the disabled community next year.

Minister of Social Transformation Hamilton Lashley made this disclosure yesterday while addressing the congregation at the St. Michael Cathedral's weekly lunchtime church service.

"Beginning the next financial year, we will be making $100 000 available to persons with disabilities where they can access start-up funds for micro businesses, and funds to be used to secure the space necessary in which to house these businesses," he said.

Lashley said the fund was set up because of the need to empower the disabled within the society.

During his address, Lashley also called for sign language to be placed on the curriculum of educational institutions, noting that it is useless calling the island a disable-friendly society when the section of the population who are not physically handicapped is unable to communicate with those who are hearing impaired.

"It should be compulsory for parents of hearing impaired children to learn sign language. In addition, I believe that learning sign language should be made compulsory at the primary secondary and tertiary levels within the education system ... we cannot talk about making the society friendly to disabled people if they are unable to communicate with other persons," the minister said.

Relating to transportation for disabled persons, the minister stressed that it would be essential and said he would be actively lobbying the Minister of Transport to have the 95 buses which have been proposed to be brought into the island equipped with the necessary amenities for the disabled.

"I would like to see every one of the buses having an adaptable system to accommodate persons with disabilities particularly wheelchair users and others with other physical disabilities, because in Barbados the disabled must be integrated into the mainstream of society," he said.

Lashley also revealed that an integrated policy on how the region handles its care of persons with disabilities should be forthcoming by next April.

He said that he, along with other regional government ministers responsible for the disabled, are slated to meet in Kingston, Jamaica next year where they will discuss relevant policies governing the treatment of persons with disabilities and hopefully sign a 'Kingston Accord' to that effect.

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