A more concerted effort is necessary when it comes to ensuring that the dream of a fully accessible Barbados can become a reality.

This is coming from Chair of the Education and Training Committee, Patricia Padmore-Blackman, who spoke to The Barbados Advocate after the culmination of the awards ceremony for the second annual Dorien Pile National Literacy Competition 2017 yesterday at Solidarity House.

She stated that the Council started a programme under the same name a few years ago, with the intent of ensuring that adequate steps are being taken to address shortcomings in the country for persons with disabilities, such as the lack of sufficient parking.

“The Fully Accessible Barbados is one of the programmes of the Council where we have disability sensitivity trainers, where they go out and talk to people at different workplaces. You would use persons to come and talk about blindness and also parking – that is a part of a fully accessible Barbados.”

Inadequate lighting in certain public places and online materials such as newspapers that do not sufficiently incorporate programmes like the Job Access with Speech (JAWS) – the most prevalent programme in Barbados for the blind and visually impaired persons to enable them to read these things – are some of the other areas that need to be addressed, she said.

“Lighting is one of the areas too … say someone with visual impairment, the person may not be able to see well enough in a dimly lit place. And then also for the deaf, we need things for the deaf; persons with mobility challenges. A fully accessible Barbados also speaks to reading materials. Fairly often, persons who are blind cannot access information. Even our newspapers, when we use our screen readers, sometimes it is very difficult to navigate on the webpage. So you really need that to be compliant for persons with sight impairments.”

In addition, she lamented that persons with disabilities are often left out when it comes to the planning and hosting of certain cultural activities.

“In Barbados when we are having our national activities, you know many times we would have to force our way in. We are never put on the programme – like for instance, many of us sing, we dance. There may still be a little bit of it coming out here and there, but a more concerted effort needs to be made when they are planning these events.”

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