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October 17, 2003

Time to remove Jamaica's outdated law for the deaf

From: Jamaica Gleaner, Jamaica - Oct 17, 2003


FIRST OF all, we would like to introduce ourselves to you. We are Damian and Felicia Campbell. We are deaf and born-Jamaicans. We are writing you a letter concerning the needs of the deaf in Jamaica.

We both studied in the United States and gained first degrees. When we returned to live in Jamaica last month, we were very disappointed and puzzled as we found out that the law in Jamaica stated that deaf people are not allowed to drive. We have experiences in driving thousands of miles in the United States as well as driving in snow and on mountainous roads, for the past several years. Felicia has been driving for the past 10 years and Damian has been driving the past five years in the United States. We had a car while in the United States.

It is very difficult for us to travel in Jamaica because we were used to driving ourselves for a long time. It is very frustrating for us because we have job positions in our profession and ministry, which demand us to be on time. We need to reach out to the deaf throughout Jamaica, but taxi and parents' transportation limit us.

The deaf are being deprived of a basic human right. Deaf people are very intelligent and industrious and are being deprived of opportunities to hold important jobs. Deaf workers operate machinery, computers and equipment safely. They travel to foreign countries safely. They marry and have families. Deafness does not make them any less human.

The deaf are builders, bakers, farmers, tailors, welders, clerks, and hold a host of other jobs. The deaf are law-abiding citizens of Jamaica. It is time for our progressive government to remove this antiquated law that deprives the deaf of the joy and utility of driving a motor vehicle safely.

It is time for Jamaica to catch up with other countries in facilitating the empowering of the deaf Jamaicans so they can access and enjoy the full rights and privileges of Jamaica citizenship. "There are none so deaf as those who refuse to hear." Let this not continue to be an indictment on this government.

We are, etc.,


Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf

P.O. Box 14

Knockpatrick, Mnchester

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