The Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) states that “disability is any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restriction).” At some point in life, almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired and, those who survive old age will undoubtedly experience increasing difficulties in functioning.
In Jamaica, the Disabilities Act of 2014 established the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD). Under the Act, disability “includes a person who has a long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which may hinder his full and effective participation in society, on an equal basis with other persons.”
The JCPD Mandate
The JCPD mandate is protecting and promoting the rights, independence and inclusion of Persons With Disabilities (PWD). Registering with the JCPD includes filling out a registration form. Registered JCPD members receive a certificate to access certain benefits, such as concessionary bus fares in the Kingston Metropolitan Area and St. Catherine. The JCPD supports PWDs through advocacy of rights, employment and financial support. Additionally, each client is provided with an assessment and independent living skills training.
Available Assistive Devices To Members
The Executive Director of the JCPD, Dr Christine Hendricks, told JIS News that there are more than 200 available assistive devices. The devices include wheelchairs, crutches, and white canes for persons who are blind. The items were acquired through the ‘We Care Programme’ under the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service. The public and Food For The Poor also provide assistance whenever the need arises.
To get the devices, persons may visit JCPD’s head office at 18 Ripon Road in Kingston or any Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) office. The applicant will need to speak with a social worker and complete an application form.
Support Services are Available
The assistive devices are among several benefits that the JCPD offer its members. Persons may apply for support, such as school fees, books and other school supplies. Persons may apply for support in preparation for back-to-school, whether at the pre-school, early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary, or any other training institution. The JCPD is presently accepting applications for the Margaret Moody Scholarship. The scholarshiis open to persons pursuing studies at the tertiary level. The deadline to apply is August 31.
“We do not bar anyone because of their age. Once you have a disability and are registered with the Council, you can access all our support programmes,” Dr Hendricks said. Individuals should also verify a disability through the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
An economic empowering grant is also available to members of the JCPD who wish to start a business. They can access from $30,000 to $150,000.