People with disabilities are defined as those having long-term physical, sensory, intellectual or mental impairments. When these impairments interact with a number of barriers, it may hinder these individuals effective and full participation in the community. Every person is likely to suffer from disability at one point or another in their lifetime due to accident, illness or old age. The rights of disabled people are of great importance to their lives. This essay looks at the rights of peoples with disabilities in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The rights of disabled people have to include freedom of speech, equality before the law, the right to marriage and family, respect for privacy, the right to health and education, and much more. The government of in St Vincent and the Grenadines has put quite some effort to uphold these rights. For instance, it facilitated the formation of the National Society of Persons with Disabilities (NSPD) in 1987. This is a cross-disability umbrella organization run by people with disabilities. It is a registered and dully constituted non-profit organization operating under the guidance of aims and objectives contained in its Constitution. NSDP advocated for equality and rights of disabled people while at the same time offering services and support where needed.
Despite some significant progress being made, NSDP and disabled individuals in St Vincent and the Grenadines are still facing several challenges. They include discrimination in employment, insufficient social and healthcare services, and access to wheelchairs for those who need them. Education is also a source of concern. There may be government policies aimed at supporting special education and better schools for those with special needs. However, there are concerns to do with capacity as well as discrepancies in teachers expertise. In addition, tertiary-level vocation training is absent, especially for intellectually challenged individuals. From an organizational point of view, NSDP has come up with a draft national policy covering everything ranging from employment and health to human rights. All in all, this policy has to be revisited and then enshrined within the law otherwise it stands little chance of carrying much weight.
According to WHO's World report on disability published in 2011, there is a rise in the number of people who become disabled due to factors such as increased prevalence of diseases, poor nutrition and aging populations. This trend is definitely reflected in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Diseases like diabetes are on the rise, meaning that there is an increase in the number of amputees. Disability is also resulting from the harmful effects of narcotics. Part of NSDPs mission is to minimize cases of preventable disabilities; something that the organization accomplishes with help from the health ministry. Officials from the organization visit local clinics educating the public on healthy lifestyles and diets, particularly targeting expectant women.
Since its inception, NSDP has made some progress in changing negative cultural attitudes towards disabled individuals. Not so long ago, there was a rather bad attitude whereby children born with severe disabilities were either ridiculed or shunned. Nowadays, such people have a much better chance of getting integrated into the society in a way that their rights are honored and respected. This progress is as a result of three decades of education and lobbying via the media, fairs, marches, as well as visits to organizations and educational institutions.
Andrews, Erin E., and Emily M. Lund. "Silenced No More: A Review of Supporting Disabled People with Their Sexual Lives." Sexuality and Disability 34.2 (2016): 227-233.
Hemingway, Laura, and Mark Priestley. "Natural hazards, human vulnerability and disabling societies: a disaster for disabled people?." Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal 2.3 (2014).
James, Godwin E. Principals' and Teachers' Experiences and Perceptions of School Inspection in Primary Schools in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Diss. University of Sheffield, 2016.
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