Thursday, March 22, 2007

Handicapped Facilities

So, I read this article in the Cayman Net News today, which evoked a sneer of the lip and a flip of the finger in the general direction of the so-called powers that be. And it was not my pinky.

I laud the paper for trying to highlight the plight of the handicapped on our Islands, though they should not limit this outcry to those who are unable to walk, but extend this study and / or commentary to the blind, deaf, and other disabilities. I will keep a skeptical eye out for follow up articles detailing the completion and nature of the improvements, but I will not hold my breath.

When my family realized that my big Sis was slowly losing her ability to hear, we searched high and low for resources that could provide us with sign language classes. I was flabbergasted to note that this was an almost futile endeavor. Begs me to wonder where and what the Islands do with the handicapped, but for the required token handicapped restroom and parking space, especially for those like my big Sis, who were affected later in life. She is not in a position to attend the Lighthouse School to learn the ABC’s of sign with the primary aged kids. There are no TTY telephones for us to communicate immediately via phone, and it seems as if the telecoms companies are not even giving these a second thought, as they are not marketable and expensive to implement. And of course, there is the public sensitivity (or lack thereof) that is also to be dealt with.

I once watched with revulsion as a sales clerk spoke harshly to a patron that could not speak, when she could not understand what the patron wanted. I have watched with disgust as able bodied people have parked in designated handicap parking, running to do their errands with no shame. I can remember back in the day when Caymanian families hid their handicapped relatives away like a shameful secret. I have witnessed more than one occasion when individuals have spoken impatiently and aggressively to my sister when she was unable to hear them, and asked them to repeat their statements. You know that the I and I was not going to tolerate such disrespect to my Sis!!! Hmprh! I am vex again just thinking about it!! We also need to sensitise our children from they are in the womb not to stare and point when they see someone who is different than they are.

Needless to say, my environment needs further education and enlightenment as to the sensitivity and the plight of the handicapped. The fact of the matter is if buildings and sidewalks are not properly outfitted for handicap access (and this includes Braille signage) then we are taking away the ability of those with special needs to be independent. This would do nothing to erase societal misconceptions and prejudices as to the abilities and intelligence of those with special needs.

“We would encourage occupiers of older buildings to modify them to accommodate disabled people,” says the good Minister. What the fcuk??? “Encourage”??? Who the hell wants to voluntarily spend money to outfit a building for those in the minority?? I would think that the government would see fit to provide the occupier of the older business with a mandate to update their facilities within a giving time frame, as a matter of public policy!!! But, I won’t get too stressed, as it is evident that common sense is indeed not common.

Lets see if said government is quick to update the handicapped facilities on the waterfront based on the complaints, interviews and special needs of the transient cruise ship passengers on the waterfront, as opposed to setting island wide standards that will ultimately benefit their people. I wait with abated breath.

On that note, I shall now exit.

Toodles.

‘Fro
Ginger





33 comments:

Anonymous said...

My dear, welcome to my world! As the mother of a 23 yr old handicapped child, you are only getting a glimpse of what I've seen and battled. From before the new Turtle Farm officially opened, when I toured the facility, the first question I asked is, "How are wheelchairs supposed to get through the crushed rock walkways?" That was well over a year ago. Handicapped parking - why do the landlords have to hire a Security Guard to wheel-lock them when this should be LAW?!
If you think accessibility is bad, do you realize that there is no legislation to protect our disabled community? I'm sick of hearing from one government to another, "it's going to be a priority." When?! FYI, there are some of us who have banded together and will not let this issue rest until proper legislation is passed. As a cousin of mine said, "different dog, same ticks"....time to squirt the Frontline Plus! I encourage you to join us.

Jdid said...

governments always give lip service and then ignore the minority. it is sort of en vogue as well to see the diasbled as less than others so then a certain callousness develops

Mighty Afroditee said...

WOW Ms. Anonymous!!! I am always an advocate for a such a cause, and I had realised the lack of legislation when I was seeking to assess my sister's rights, should she be dismissed from her job because of her hearing impairment.

I had never heard of this group, but would LOVE more information!!! Email me, nuh? Send it to mightyafroditeeyahoo.com...

Thanks for taking the time to read and drop me a line...ta ta...

Mighty Afroditee said...

oops...mightyafroditee@yahoo.com...

Crankyputz said...

You know as much as Canada is way more advanced in these areas, you still have foolish people being so foolishly insensitive....great post....

Stunner said...

There is a lot more that the Caribbean governments can do for the handicapped. Also we the lucky ones, I say lucky because it could have happened to anyone of us, need to be more sensitive and remember the handicapped are human beings too.

Gooders Girl said...

"People living with disabilities" is a more politically correct way to describe these mebers of our societies......nice post though

Abeni said...

Sadly, we meaning the planners think about these issues as an afterthought. Slowly, I hear talk about making new buildings accessible etc so hopefully some good things may be on the way

Mad Bull said...

Its the truth! Talk your talk, sister...

Anonymous said...

"Put up or shut up" is how my Mom would say it. Let us band together and make a REAL stink! My son is 20 and needs total care and every step in the right direction (legeslation and rights for the disabled) requires patience and mighty perseverance. The more noise we make the better chances the disabled will be heard.

Leon said...

Sad isn't it? And those same people who overlook the disabled make the most noise when they or someone they love becomes disabled. Disabled people need to make their voices heard, to make people realize how many of them there are.

Mighty Afroditee said...

Funny yu should say so, Anonymous #2. I also have smeone for you to talk to. Email me at the address above...

Toodles...

Anonymous said...

Good news, but I'm not holding my breath just yet... Meeting w/ Govt. officials confirmed for Friday to form a Steering Committee to assist in drafting legislation!!!
YAY!
Anonymous#1

Mighty Afroditee said...

Anonymous #1, I really think that you need to meet Anonymous #2,who needs to 'put up or shut up', and help to make the noise...

I feel like a matchmaker!!!

Anonymous said...

I know her (Anon.#2) very well. We b makin' lotsa noise - ya soon hear it.
Anon.#1

b.art said...

@Leon: if the disabled person is dumb then...?

O.K. bad joke. Seriously though

@Afr:Politicians, or anybody with significant power for that matter, aren't going to get up and start working hard at what they consider 'fringe' causes unless they have incentive to. That's where you and other concerned people come in. Start pressuring the relevant people directly and via the media (letters to editor e.t.c). You owe it to your sis at least.

Best

Anonymous said...

Slow, but positive progress...I must tell you that there is now a ramp at the rear entrance to the Glass House! It was built over the weekend (April 21st). Disabled Parking is just across from it.

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