Disabled Peoples' International North America and the Caribbean
Regional Happenings September 2005
UN Convention Consultations in the Caribbean Region 2005
To the date of publishing this newsletter, 5 national assemblies put on Consultations as listed by execution: Dominica Association of Disabled People (DADP), Barbados National Organization of the Disabled (BARNOD), Disabled Persons' Organization (DPO) of the Bahamas, Combined Disabilities Association (CDA) of Jamaica and the Antigua & Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities (ABAPD).
DADP like the other national assemblies used the forum to educate persons with disabilities, their organizations, their families and friends, civil society, the private sector, political parties, and government officials about the proposed Convention. This was done on Wednesday, 15th June, 2005.
DADP's Executive Director Mrs. Nathalie Rolle opened the day's proceedings by heralding the steps taken by the United Nations to develop this new Convention and lamented on the long overdue action to be taken by the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica, and the wider society to provide greater access and opportunities for people with disabilities in the country's socio-economic development. She strongly stressed on the hope that there would not be any protracted delay by her Government and other States in ratifying and implementing the Convention when it is adopted.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Community Development, and Gender Affairs, Mr. Davis Letang delivered an address on behalf of Minister the Hon. Matthew Walter, noting the revolutionary thinking of people with disabilities in Dominica led by DADP. He referred to the National Policy on Disability presented to his Government by DADP that had been adapted 10 years ago, but admitted that it had not yet been implemented. He also spoke of The Kingston Accord adopted by the Caribbean Community Heads of Government (CARICOM) Ministers with Responsibility for Disability, in which they reaffirmed their governments support for people with disabilities in our Region. He ended by stating that now is the time to act and move forward on some of the initiatives which have been developed.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade, Labour and the Public Service Hon. Charles Savarin, pledged the support of the Government with respect to the adoption of the Convention. He also stated that the Government is working to advance a rights based approach to disability, moving towards a standpoint which no longer sees the physical or intellectual limitations of an individual as the issue, but rather focusing on that person’s potential and on respect for his/her human dignity. The Minister congratulated the DADP for organizing such a forum stating that this imitative, which seeks to engage all sectors of society in discussion on the draft Convention is another example of the dynamism and vision which has characterized DADP over the years.
The opening ceremony was broadcast via Kairi FM radio providing listeners an opportunity to follow the proceedings.
Management Consultant and facilitator of the event Mrs. Betty Perry-Fingal gave an overview on the Convention development process, and the history of the action taken by the UN on behalf of persons with disabilities over the past 25 years. This included the observance of the Decade for Persons with Disabilities and the World Programme of Action Concerning People with Disabilities as well as the development of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for People with Disabilities.
Using the Convention Draft Articles Nos. 15-25 as provided by the Regional Office, the 25 participants were divided into working groups and each group was assigned 2 draft articles to review. The groups reported their recommendations back to the plenary. A consensus was reached on a number of recommended changes to the language of the Draft Articles. These recommendations were received by the Regional Office and immediately passed on to the Regional Chairperson, Ms. Mary Mitchell during the negotiations at the UN.
The proposed Convention received the endorsement of all participants, including an officer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Labour, Trade and Public Service who represented the Ministry at the Consultation. He indicated that Dominica was making preparation to attend the UN General Assembly in September 2005.The DADP Public Education and Advocacy Programme emphasizes the need to educate nationals on the proposed Convention. Its thanks and appreciation go out to the DPI North America and the Caribbean Regional Office for providing some funding assistance through the Abilis Foundation and numerous Dominicans who granted reductions and/or discounts for items or charges associated with the implementation of this activity.
UN Convention Consultations con't...
The Barbados National Organization of the Disabled (BARNOD) was next to stage a Consultation on the Convention on July 11th, 2005; however, a report is not yet available on the activity. As soon as the Regional Office receives a copy, it will be published through this and other media.
The Disabled Persons' Organization (DPO) of the Bahamas' Consultation was held on July 21, 05 in what was a collaborative effort between DPO and the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development. Senator the Hon. Floyd E. Morris, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in Jamaica was invited to the Bahamas to address the One-Day Consultation held at Worker's House on Harrold Road.
The Prime Minister of the Bahamas, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie declared that his Government will ensure that the rights of persons living with disabilities and their share in the country's resources are better protected and advanced. Mr. Christie also said that he is a committed soul in ensuring that the country continues to make progress in the area of the protection and promotion of the rights of persons living with disabilities. The Prime Minister made these comments during a courtesy call by Senator Morris at the Office of the Prime Minister on Cable Beach.
Prime Minister Christie further stated that there must be significant focus on the disabled and the principle of rationalizing the resources of The Bahamas in a different way to ensure that people with disabilities who would seem to have been left out would have their fundamental rights recognized.
The Hon. Christie said his government began the trek towards ensuring that that objective is met 3 years ago when he decided to create a separate Ministry Social Services and Community Development to bring focus to the broad area of social services and to ensure that the Bahamian people, from an institutional point of view, focused on it.
A Working Group to review draft disability legislation to promote and safeguard the rights of persons living with disabilities was setup through that Ministry. The Working Group, which is comprised of representatives from the church, government, private citizens and representatives of various non-governmental organizations, are expected to deliver their report to the Minister Hon. Melanie Griffin.
Prime Minister Christie applauded Senator Morris for the attention he has brought to the rights of persons living with disabilities throughout the Region as first a Senator whose responsibilities include Social Security (Social Services), as the Caribbean representative on the UN Ad Hoc Committee and as a person living with a disability.
Senator Morris thanked the Prime Minister for his comments, adding that the Government of Jamaica stands ready to assist The Bahamas in whatever ways possible to meet the objectives outlined by Mr. Christie.
Disabled, but Not Incapable
On the occasion of the Consultation, President of the Disabled Persons' Organization (DPO), Mr. William E. Lightbourne, said that people tend to look at a person's disability that is skin-deep rather than their ability. Mr. Lightbourne further acknowledged that for a long time, persons with disabilities have been marginalized and their continued exclusion and marginalization does not speak well of our humanity. He firmly believes that a Convention will allow the international community to identify countries whose performance on disability issues are not of the highest standards.
Mr. Lightbourne noted that the UN has many instruments on human rights, but they do not address the unique and specific needs of persons with disabilities. The adoption and implementation of a specific Convention he believes, would enhance every opportunity for persons with disabilities to be able to fully participate in main stream society.
Mr. Lightbourne listed the draft articles 15-25 of the Convention emphasizing the various topics addressed by the draft articles. He stated that one of the most challenging aspects he foresees for society is to treat persons with disabilities as human beings, as citizens of their country with every right to be full members of society. Mr. Lightbourne said that too often, people with disabilities get patted on the back and told nice job, yet the perception that persons with disabilities cannot do the job persists. Persons with disabilities are not given an opportunity to do the job, he said, reasons are always found why we are thought to be unable to do the job.
Speaking of the presence of Senator Morris, Consultant at the Bahamas Disability Affairs Division, Ms. Iris Adderley, said that having a blind person making such a contribution is a "shining example" of what disabled persons have to offer. Ms. Adderley stressed that while the Government of Jamaica recognized Senator Morris' capability by appointing him as a legislator and putting him in charge of a government department, The Bahamian Government has failed to invest such confidence in a person with disabilities there.
Ms. Adderley, a quadriplegic, further explained that her disability does not negatively affect her performance. If more focus was placed on her and other persons with disabilities' capability their contribution to nation building would be clearly recognized, explaining that a person's disability is not put on in the morning to be taken off at night, but that it is life! She expressed grave concern for the concept of non-disabled individuals who generally do not have a close understanding of disability by experiencing it, making decisions for persons with disabilities.
UN Convention Consultations con't...
The Combined Disabilities Association (CDA) of Jamaica held its Consultation on Monday, July 25, 2005. Mrs. Faith Innerarity, Director and the Jamaican government representative on the UN Ad Hoc Committee, presented an historical overview of the development of the Convention. She stated that the current position was concerned with the area of legal capacity as to how the law relating to some areas is interpreted in certain jurisdictions with the areas of concern being:
• Right to Life
• Independent living
• Reasonable accommodation
• Communication - making the material available, how far should the State go? Should this be extended to the private sector?
• Resources - what is the position with this?
With regard to the UN Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, it was agreed that a multi-track approach would be taken as some countries may not be party to the Convention and will continue to use the Standard Rules.
Mrs. Clarke from the Ministry of Transport and Works gave an overview of the UN system in relation to the development of Conventions and how we can lobby to get the issues we want included in the document.
The roundtable discussions produced many amendments to draft articles 15-21 that were immediately forwarded to the Regional Chairperson, Ms. Mary Mitchell during the negotiations at the UN on the Convention.
UN Convention Consultations con’t
The Antigua & Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities (ABAPD) staged its Consultation on Thursday, August 4, 2005.
The Consultation was called to order by the event coordinator, M.D. Benjamin, recently retired Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and the Economy. The Public Relations Officer of ABAPD, Mr. Leslie A. Emanuel welcomed the participants, after which the Consultation was declared open by Hon. Hilson Baptiste, the Minister of Social Transformation on behalf of the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Hon. W. Baldwin Spencer who is the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Minister Baptiste alluded to the fact that there was much work to be done in increasing the opportunities available to persons with disabilities, and that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has committed to fully support the goals of organizations and persons with disabilities there. The Minister expressed the Government's support for the Convention and its willingness to introduce new legislation to complement the Convention. He wished the participants every success in their deliberations and requested a copy of the report of the findings of the Consultation.
Background on the Convention
Mr. Emanuel gave a general background on the process that has culminated in the development of the new Convention pinpointing with significance the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981 that saw the launching of the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons. He noted that DPI was founded in that year. The Programme was intended to stimulate social action by States to improve the lives of persons with disabilities by clearly defining the various categories of disabilities and how they applied to persons with disabilities. At the end of the Year of Disabled Persons, the UN declared the next 10 years the Decade of Persons with Disabilities ending in 1992. A Special Rapporteur was appointed during the Decade and the information gathered by the Office of the Rapporteur was presented in a report to the UN General assembly that resulted in the compilation of another document named the UN Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, 22 stipulations that outline in more detail what was expected of States in reference to persons with disabilities.
The report showed that not many governments particularly in developing countries were doing enough to improve the status of persons with disabilities. The Governments raised a range of concerns about the high cost of initiating the required infrastructure such as ramps and other physical adjustments, and incorporating persons with disabilities into the job market. However, Mr. Emanuel noted it has not been shown that it costs more to build ramps, curb cuts, etc., and further, statistics have shown that persons with disabilities have performed equally and in many instances outperformed their peers in academic endeavors as well as in the job market. Additionally, it has been proven that it is more costly to allow persons with disabilities to stay at home on welfare rather than to ensure they have equal access to education and employment. Mr. Emanuel pointed out that the main reason persons with disabilities have had to struggle for such a long time for equal opportunities is based on a stereotypical view that disability is a health issue and not a rights issue. Again, mainly in developing countries, it is thought that the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities can be resolved by a welfare handout instead of allowing individuals to decide how they would like to and can contribute to the development of their own lives and as a consequence, society. This myopia has done more harm than good.
The process continued in 2001 with the appointment of an Ad Hoc Committee by the UN General Assembly to develop a new UN Convention. The Ad Hoc Committee implemented a working group in short order to review the proposed draft articles of the Convention.
To date, there is no evidence that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda dealt with any of these documents at Ministry or Parliamentary levels. Minister Baptiste acknowledged that there are limitations regarding the dissemination of information and access to certain forums, etc.; however, nothing has been done to improve this situation.
Mr. Emanuel continued that while a valid question might be asked as to why the need for a "new" Convention specific to persons with disabilities, isn't there a United Nations Human Rights Convention? The response is that a Human Rights Convention has been in place for over 50 years, but persons with disabilities continue to face an unprecedented amount of discrimination in all aspects of life across the globe, and just as it was necessary to introduce a Convention on the Rights of the Child to specifically address the issues surrounding child infringement, such is the need for a specific Convention. Additionally, it is hoped that the Convention will give persons with disabilities much-needed support in enforcing their rights to equality in society. Mr. Emanuel pointed out that persons with disabilities particularly in developing countries have traditionally lacked that support which is why the ABAPD has aligned itself with The NGO Network of civil society in Antigua and Barbuda.
Mr. Emanuel pledged that ABAPD would attempt to have other consultations to continue sensitizing persons with disabilities, civil society, the public and the Government about the Convention as the process continues.
Discussion on Human Rights vs. Disability Rights: The New UN Convention
Ms. José Laurent, Attorney-at-Law and Director of the Legal Aid & Advice Centre in the Ministry of Justice made brief comments on the topic “Human Rights vs. Disability Rights: The New UN Convention."
Ms. Laurent highlighted the fact that Antigua and Barbuda has, under international conventions and treatises, legal obligations which it must observe and adhere to; that some of these international conventions were passed into domestic legislation, e.g., the UN Charter, the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Convention against Torture, the Rights of the Child (1993) and the Return of Children (1994), etc.; that the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda has incorporated in its Chapter on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms the basic rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Antigua and Barbuda is part of the hemispheric OAS Charter and as such the OAS’s Convention against Disabilities (1999, wef 2001) is one of the obligations which is a natural step for Antigua and Barbuda to take.
Ms. Laurent alluded to the fact that the Constitution itself in the Preamble paragraph (c) made reference to the fact that the Peoples of Antigua and Barbuda “assert their conviction that their happiness and prosperity can best be pursued in a democratic society in which all persons may, to the extent of their capacity, play some part in the national life" - a clear reference to the fact that persons with disabilities have a contribution to make too.
Ms. Laurent listed the 25 Draft Articles of the UN Convention and commented on them, highlighting the fact that although international treatises exist on some areas already, this Convention had a specific purpose of bringing certain issues into sharp focus for the disabled. International conventions assert human rights for all but the fact is that specific conventions were needed and passed, e.g., those relating to women, the child. The Convention for the Disabled recognizes that there is still discrimination; that areas of transportation, communication, housing
recreation, education and sports are critical areas to the disabled and must be articulated specifically.
Ms. Laurent referred to the fact that although society knows the disabled children from birth, it does not adequately prepare for them. She cited the case of a young student present of the Consultation now in secondary school whose visual impairment was known at her birth, some 12 years ago; that detection, awareness and monitoring of these children should allow for early preparation in the education system, for example, so that society should be mandated to prepare for and put mechanisms in place for others expected to come through the system.
The object of the Convention was advanced as being more developmental in outlook, rather than welfare - to empower the disabled than simply provide for them, give them a measure of self-sufficiency; that such implementation must be done against the backdrop of our society and resources.
Ms. Laurent encouraged capitalization on the fact of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda's commitment, as stated by the Minister of Social Transformation, which must be underscored and referred to from time to time on matters of the disabled. The Prime Minister no less has given his full support to assisting the disabled, thus ensuring in advance the smooth passage of the Convention. The issue of public awareness must also be evident in any programme about the disabled, and that educating the public is critical.
Working Groups Sessions
After the presentation by Ms. Laurent, participants were introduced to the Convention Draft Articles 15-25 by Mr. Benjamin, who later convened 3 working groups to review the articles and report their findings to plenary. The recommendations made from the working groups will be made available to the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and the Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador to the UN, Dr. John Ashe.
The participants unanimously supported the idea that the matters coming out of the Consultation should form part of a set of resolutions for presentation to the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda. It was further agreed that technical support from the Ministries of Planning, Health with Responsibility for Persons with Disabilities, Social Transformation and the Office of the Prime Minister be asked to collectively champion the cause of people with disabilities in Antigua and Barbuda.
A 4 member working group was established to formulate the resolutions for presentation to the aforementioned agencies.
UN Ad Hoc Committee Meetings, August 1-12, 2005
The Disabled Peoples' International (DPI) Information Officer and DPI North America and the Caribbean Regional Chairperson, Ms. Mary Mitchell represented DPI and the Region on the Ad Hoc Committee and the International Disability Caucus (IDC) at the Sixth Session of the negotiations on the UN Comprehensive and Integral Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.
The Government of Canada included Steven Estey, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities' International Development Committee as a member of Canada's delegation to the Session.
Also in attendance to participate in activities of the IDC at the Session and to make the Canadian disability rights community's position known to the various delegations was Mary Ennis, the Vice Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) and a member of the CCD International Development Committee.
The Canadian Association of Independent Living Centers (CAIlC) had David Shannon representing it at the meeting, and the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) of Canada sent Jason Mitschele and Rachael Ross.
The UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities
Canadian women with disabilities are advocating that the Convention use a twin track approach to address the issues of women with disabilities. With a twin track approach, the Convention would have a separate article on women with disabilities and would also mainstream women’s issues in the various articles. Mary Ennis conducted an on-line consultation with Canadian women with disabilities prior to the 6th Session. During the 6th Session Mary encouraged Canadians to share their perspective on how the Convention should address the issues of women with disabilities. This message was transmitted in Canada by Feminist Alliance For International Action (FAFIA).
Dr. Deborah Stienstra, Professor and Director in the Interdisciplinary Master's Program in Disability Studies wrote the following letter to the Canadian delegation and then shared it with CCD:
I write you as Canada's representatives to the United Nations negotiations on the Disability Convention to express my deep concern with the position I understand that Canada is taking on including women with disabilities in the Disability Convention. I understand that Canada is advocating a mainstreaming approach to including women. This is an important part of the work for gender equality, but as we have learned time and again, it is not enough. And for women with disabilities, it is definitely not enough. Canada needs to support the 'twin-track' approach or what I call the 'both and solution' to gender -- that is including women and gender in all texts (i.e. mainstreaming) but also recognizing that there are unique human rights issues for women with disabilities as a result of the intersections of gender and disability.
This requires the force of a separate paragraph addressing the unique human rights concerns of women with disabilities.
Over the past 20 years I have been at numerous international negotiations related to women's equality. I have contributed to NGO and government discussions, contributed to the texts of the Beijing and Beijing +5 conferences on women; worked to establish the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) and written books and articles related to including women's equality in international commitments. Women with disabilities have been neglected in most of these arenas, I am ashamed to say. You, as negotiators, have the opportunity to correct these gaps in these negotiations. Your attempts will be incomplete without addressing both the mainstreaming considerations as well as a separate article on the human rights of women with disabilities.
I understand the complexities of negotiating texts. You, as government officials, receive instructions from Ottawa and work within the framework of Canadian foreign and domestic policies, including policies on gender equality. I urge you to consider that one of the most marginalized groups of women in the world is women with disabilities. Not only are people with disabilities the majority of the poorest of the poor, but women with disabilities are the majority of people with disabilities. Their needs are unique -- reproductive health, violence, economic participation, childcare, etc -- all of these need to be understood differently for women and men. The human rights violations that women with disabilities face are unique both because they are women and experience disabilities.
In the current negotiations I understand many of these issues are dealt with in existing text. But we have learned in many years of negotiating texts related to the situation of women that new and emerging issues arise as we come to understand the situations of women around the world. We need strong language in this new convention recognizing that the human rights of women with disabilities are at once the same as all people with disabilities, but also different. These uniquenesses need to be addressed in the text.
In my own research, I have come to understand that women with disabilities often face unique situations which marginalize them in different ways from men with disabilities as well from women and men without disabilities. A recent work on Women with Disabilities Accessing Trade published by Status of Women Canada illustrates some of these complexities. This information can be found at http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/pubs/pubspr/0662367391/index_e.html
I urge you to reconsider Canada's position on including women with disabilities in the text of the Disability Convention and support the twin track approach.
Thank you for your consideration, Deborah Stienstra.
Deborah Stienstra, Ph.D.
Professor and Director, Interdisciplinary Master's Program in Disability Studies
Room 128 Education Building, University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA R3T 2N2
Telephone: (204) 474-9971 Fax: (204) 474-6676
Wheelchair Buses in Tobago Remain Unused
In July 2005, the Trinidad and Tobago Chapter of the Disabled Peoples' International (TTDPI) learned that the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) purchased 2 wheelchair accessible buses in 2003 for the disabled community, but for unknown reasons, the buses have not been used for two years!
TTDPI has publicly denounced this untenable situation that cannot be allowed to continue. As the guardian of the disabled in Tobago, TTDPI continues to make every effort to ensure that this service is put to use for the community it was intended to serve. To this end TTDPI has appealed to all and sundry to intervene in this matter.
Events in Barbados
New BCD Board
On Sunday, June 27, 2005, the following persons were elected to serve on the Border of Directors of the Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD) for the next 2 years:
Mrs. Boneta Phillips - President
Mrs. Rose-Ann Foster- Vaughan - Vice President
Mrs. Sandra Carter - Secretary
Mrs. Dorien Pile - Treasurer
Ms. Julie Sealy - Director
Mrs. Dawn Rudder - Director
Mr. Peter Serieux BCH - Director
Ms. Sharon Newsam - Director
Mr. John Hopper - Director
Mr. Clevedon Mayers - Director
The new Board pledged to continue to pursue the Council's objectives and work toward the inclusive society we all seek to achieve. BCD is an associate member of DPI North America and the Caribbean.
A Stellar Performance by Young Calypsonian with Disabilities
Chad "Ruel” Holder placed 3rd in the 2005 Junior Monarch Competition during the annual Crop Over celebrations with a performance that was pure star quality. His song "Making a Difference" received standing ovations. The Competition was held on July 16, 2005 at the Dove Conference Centre. Chad made the community of persons with disabilities in Barbados proud and we join with all to say hearty congratulations for his amazing achievement.
Camp Friendship 2005
The Annual Summer Camp of the Barbados Organization of Parents of the Disabled (OPOD) was held from July 18-August 12, 2005 at the Wesley Hall Infants School from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. daily. From all reports it was a memorable end to a wonderful summer. Congratulations to OPOD on a successful summer camp 2005, and there is a clear indication that the children are eagerly looking forward to next year!
The National United Society of the Blind, and the Barbados Association for the Blind and Deaf hosted the Biennial Conference of the Caribbean Council for the Blind (CCB) from July 27-31, 2005 at the Grand Barbados Resort. Part of the activities of the Conference included the presentations of the James Alves Awards in recognition of dedicated service in the field of blindness.
The Men's Educational Support Association (MESA) in collaboration with the Bureau of Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Social Transformation presented the Father's Awards at the annual luncheon of MESA on Sunday, September 4, 2005 at Sunbury Plantation House, St. Philip from 12:00 p.m.
JAYCEES Special Day for Special Kids
The Annual Funding for Special Children organized by the JAYCEES was held on Saturday, September 17, 2005 from 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. at the First Caribbean Sports Club, Wildey, St. Michael.
Barbados Cheshire Homes Association Thelma Vaughan Memorial Home has a new President in the person of Mr. Alyson Forte. A warm welcome is extended to the new President.
Silver Dollars for Children
The Kiwanis Club of Bridgetown has embarked on an exciting initiative to raise funds for the children of various charities in Barbados. The Barbados Council for the Disabled is among the 7 beneficiaries of this project.
All organizations were invited to be a part of this history-making event by going to the Garrison Savannah on Sunday, September 18, 2005. All organizations were asked to please take advantage of the opportunity to promote themselves and take part in this record-breaking feat.
This effort did not only benefit the children in Barbados but was also a Guinness Book of Records accomplishment.
Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) Human Rights Committee
Yvonne Peters and Laurie Beachell met with Ian Fine and Katherine Hamilton to discuss CCD’s research project on how the Canadian Human Rights Commission addresses complaints of discrimination made by persons with disabilities. Initially, the Commission was reluctant to have CCD interrogate their practices. Following a period of dialogue, the Commission is now beginning to realize how CCD’s research will benefit the Commission. The Commission is now determining what information it will share with CCD. Yvonne Peters will be the principal researcher for this project.
CCD Social Policy Working Group
CCD received a request from the Hon. Reg Alcock, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South to coordinate a meeting with the Hon. Ken Dryden, Minister of Social Development Canada that was initially seen as a "ministerial meeting" but by suggestion from CCD it was changed to a one-on-one meeting for people with disabilities involved in life transitions. The meeting was convened on August 26, 2005, when the Minister Dryden met the following people from the disability community: Brian, Ann and John Stewart, Samantha and Grant Mitchell, Zephania Matanga, Louella Shannacappo and Rose Flaig. The following types of transitions were discussed: transition from Children’s Services to Adult Services, moving from the parental home to independent living, transitions experienced by First Nations persons, transitions faced by newcomers to Canada. Jim Derksen, CCD Policy Adviser, hosted the meeting.
On 25 August 2005, Laurie Beachell participated in a meeting organized by the Federal/Provincial/Territorial body addressing benefits and services to people with disabilities. The F/P/T body is gathering information as it prepares itself to move forward from In Unison.
CCD Health Reform Committee
During the summer months, CCD distributed the Snapshot report on home supports to study participants, national organizations, and when the Members of Parliament return to Ottawa, they, too, will be receiving a copy of this report. This report which was undertaken by Mary Ennis, a CCD Vice Chairperson and Chair of CCD’s Health Reform Committee and Dr. Kari Krogh, presents consumers’ views on home supports public policy.
CCD Transportation Committee
CCD has written to the Hon. Jean Lapierre, Minister of Transport, responding to the Minister’s letter of 21 June 2005, where the Minister indicated that his Advisory Committee on Accessible Transportation (ACAT) would no longer ensure organizational representation of persons with disabilities. Rather than having accountable consumers participate on ACAT, the Minister intends to hand pick individuals who will consult on technical issues and speak for all persons with disabilities. In this same letter, the Minister indicated that carriers and industry would continue to be represented through their associations. In its letter, CCD protested this double standard. Other groups have also signed onto this letter. The letter is as follows:
September 2, 2005
Hon. Jean Lapierre
Minister of Transport
House of Commons
The disability community is astounded by your letter of June 21st where you inform us that ACAT will no longer ensure organizational representation of persons with disabilities on the committee. In the same letter, however, you state that the industry representatives and “major carriers” will be represented through their associations. Clearly this is a double standard. Carrier representatives are equipped with professional resources. Individuals with disabilities will be asked to consult on technical issues and speak for all persons with disabilities, while being entirely dependent upon their own experience. Democratically elected and accountable representatives of disability organizations will be ignored and you will hand pick consumers to advise you on policy. Your government has talked repeatedly about accountability. Yet with the approach you propose, individuals will be accountable to no one, representing only themselves not the disability community.
You cite as one of your reasons for changing the structure of ACAT the principles of the Voluntary Sector Accord. What you propose cannot be supported by the Voluntary Sector Accord. The Accord is an agreement between the Government of Canada and Voluntary Sector Organizations. “Voluntary sector organizations bring their knowledge, expertise and compassion in working with communities and individuals to public policy debates and identify priorities for government” (page 2, An Accord Between the Government of Canada and the Voluntary Sector.) The Accord, in considerable detail, describes the value voluntary sector organizations bring to public policy debates. The emphasis of the Accord is on the relationship between government and organizations not between government and individuals.
The disability community has seen an erosion of transportation access started under your predecessor. You have the opportunity to explore new ways of improving accessibility but unfortunately we are seeing less attention paid to the issue of transportation accessibility. On your watch we can say that for the first time in 20 years Canadians with disabilities cannot rely on the Department of Transport to uphold the principle of full accessibility. ACAT was once recognized as a model of good consultation between government and the disability community. Your proposal will put an end to a model that has worked for many years. To our dismay, it has not been productive recently and long time members like CCD have withdrawn. CCD’s frustration was not with the model but rather with the lack of action.
We believe your restructuring of ACAT demonstrates yet again your lack of understanding of the issues and a lack of commitment to work with the disability community to ensure a truly accessible transportation system. You may find individuals willing to sit on your committee; however, you cannot say that they represent the disability community for they will be accountable to no one. CCD has consulted broadly with organizations of persons with disabilities. The organizations listed below urge you to reconsider this regressive action, to commit to the development of accessibility regulations, to strengthen the resources of your department to promote and ensure access and to develop a new policy framework on accessible transportation.
Chairperson CCD’s Transportation Committee and former Chair of ACAT
On behalf of those listed below:
Canadian Association of the Deaf
Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
Conféderation des Organismes de Personne Handicappées du Quebéc
Canadians Association for Community Living
Canadian Paraplegic Association
Guide Dog Users of Canada Inc.
cc: Prime Minister Paul Martin
Minister Ken Dryden
Steven Fletcher, MP
Peter Julian, MP
Ken Boshcoff, MP
Attention Canadian Students with Disabilities
As it is September and the school year is just beginning, CCD is pleased to inform students that its member organization the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), and MuchMoreMusic have partnered to launch the first annual MuchMoreMusic AccessAbility Scholarship.
The scholarship will award $3,000 (CDN) to an applicant with a permanent disability who best demonstrates skill, talent, excellence and enthusiasm in pursuing a future in the broadcast industry. This initiative builds on parent-company CHUM Television's commitment to encouraging participation of persons with disabilities in Canadian broadcasting.
"The AccessAbility scholarship continues our investment in talent development and diversity in our industry," said Sarah Crawford, VP Public Affairs, CHUM Limited. "We're delighted to be working with NEADS to encourage people with disabilities to pursue careers in broadcasting."
NEADS is a national charitable organization that advocates for full access to post-secondary education across Canada for students with disabilities. The association also works to provide support to college and university graduates with disabilities during their transition from school to the employment market.
"People with disabilities are underrepresented in media studies, so NEADS is excited to be collaborating with MuchMoreMusic on this well-needed national scholarship," said Rachael Ross, President of NEADS. "We support any initiative that works toward achieving full inclusion and accurate portrayals of people with disabilities in our society."
Online, candidates can visit www.muchmoremusic.com/scholarship to download an application form and learn more about the scholarship. Applications will be processed by NEADS and the best 10 forwarded to MuchMoreMusic for final selection. The submission deadline is Tuesday, November 1st, 2005 @ 5:00 p.m. ET.
MuchMoreMusic AccessAbility Scholarship Fast Facts
"AccessAbility" is a positive and empowering term promoting full access to persons with disabilities in all areas of society. Scholarship funds will go toward tuition; payable directly to the winning recipient's educational institution of choice. According to NEADS, about 10 per cent of students enrolled in post-secondary education have visible or invisible disabilities.
Persons to Contact:
Frank Smith Graham Machacek
National Coordinator, NEADS MuchMoreMusic
(613) 526-8008 (416) 591-7400 ext 2593
Combined Disabilities Association of Jamaica Back-To-School Programme
“Labour for learning before you grow old; for learning is better than silver and gold. Silver and gold will vanish away; but a good education will never decay.”
In its belief in the above nursery rhyme, and in recognition of the importance of education to its membership, the Combined Disabilities Association (CDA) of Jamaica embarked on a “Back-To-School Programme" in 2002 that caters to the educational needs of children with disabilities and non-disabled children whose parents/care-givers are disabled.
The project started with a donation from Cable & Wireless Jamaica Ltd. in that same year from its “Boundaries for Sixes” project. Since then the number of sponsors has gradually grown to include more corporations and more beneficiaries. In 2002, 10 children received assistance. This figure increased to 50 in 2004. Uniforms, school bags, shoes, tuition and other accessories have been distributed to these children.
The programme was CDA's response to the “cries” for assistance from its membership, especially those who were unemployed or low income earners. Through letters and public appeals via the electronic media, corporate sponsors now include Davon Uniforms International, Nestlé Jamaica Ltd, Leder Mode Ltd., Pepsi Jamaica and Josephs. Financial support to cover tuition has also been received from National Commercial Bank, Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT) and JAMALCO. However, despite this increased sponsorship CDA is still unable to meet the needs of the vast majority of this target group.
To date, 80 children across Jamaica have benefited from the Back-To-School Programme that is meeting only 30% of the number of requests for help.
For 2005, CDA hopes public and private backing will increase in a more meaningful way to continue this programme and support those children who are really in need and for whom learning will be more difficult without CDA's help.
More information on this project can be obtained by contacting the Offices of the Combined Disabilities Association at (876) 929-1177.
Events in Antigua and Barbuda
Persons with hearing impairment/deafness in Antigua and Barbuda earmarked for TTY's
Hands That Speak (HTS), the interdenominational organization that ministers to the hearing-impaired/deaf community in Antigua and Barbuda has put together a communications project to be completed in two phases. The 1st phase will include providing 12 Teletypewriters (TTY's) to persons with hearing impairment/deafness, and phase 2 will entail a training seminar to demonstrate their use. A proposal was submitted to a few corporate businesses for assistance in meeting the overall project cost of Fourteen Thousand Eastern Caribbean Dollars (ECD14,000.00)/approx. Five Thousand Two Hundred Forty-Four United States Dollars (USD5,244.00)/approx. Four Thousand Two Hundred Sixty-One Euros (€4,261.00). HTS has had favorable responses from the Global Bank of Commerce and Cable & Wireless (Antigua & Barbuda) Ltd. One of HTS' goals is to combat the perception that persons with hearing impairment/deafness impose a burden on society.
HTS celebrates its Fourth Anniversary
HTS celebrated the fourth anniversary of its founding on Thursday, September 8, 2005, and to commemorate the occasion the Organization:
Rotary Club of Antigua Delivers Free Wheelchairs to Persons with Disabilities
Members of the Rotary Club of Antigua embarked on a drive to deliver free wheelchairs to people with disabilities across the country who are in great need of these items in August 2005.
The Club worked from a three-page list of people in Antigua who need wheelchairs provided by the Antigua & Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities (ABAPD), District Health Clinics, and families and friends of persons with disabilities.
The week of August 14-20, 2005 was devoted to delivering the chairs island-wide and was in fact completed by the weekend. The Rotarians divided themselves into 4 teams with 2 trucks assigned to each team. Members of the group, aided by district nurses, delivered the wheelchairs door-to-door. Recipients ranged in age from early 20s to mid-80s.
The project was in the works for some 2 years and finally realized success partly through the efforts of the Canadian Rotary Club’s Wheelchair Foundation. Jim Williams of the Canadian Rotary Club offered to match up to EC$28,000.00/US$10,486.89 if the Antiguan Club could raise that amount, which it did.
Canadian Rotarians came to the island to help the Antiguan Rotarians with the distribution of the wheelchairs. In total, 280 wheelchairs were provided. Neighboring island Montserrat got 25 chairs, 8 went to Barbuda and 4 will be given to Grenada. The total cost of the project is US $25,000.00.
DPI Latin America and North America/Caribbean Regions Get Together
In what is hoped to be the beginning of an ongoing working relationship between the Latin America, and the North America and the Caribbean Regions of DPI, the Regional Treasurer, Matthew St. Paul and the Regional Development Officer (RDO), Leslie A. Emanuel of North America and the Caribbean attended the recently concluded DPI Latin America Regional Meetings held from September 5-9, 2005. Mr. St. Paul attended on behalf of the DPI North America and the Caribbean Regional Chairperson, Ms. Mary Mitchell who was unable to be there.
Accompanying Mr. St. Paul and Mr. Emanuel was Christopher 'Chris' Lytle who is a 27-year-old grad student in Toronto, Canada in the critical disability studies program at York University. He is a person with disabilities and has just completed a summer internship with a new disability rights monitoring program in Canada that has been set up by Dr. Bengt Lindquist, the former UN special Rapporteur on Disability for many years.
Chris presented a paper on the Situation of Employment for persons with disabilities as it exists in Canada during the week's meetings. Mr. St. Paul presented on the topic of Youth and Education and the Mr. Emanuel presented on the topic Technology and Communication. The Latin America regional activities included entrepreneurship training for persons with disabilities, Latin America regional meeting, and a preparatory Meeting for youth with disabilities ahead of the Summit of the Americas in Argentina in November 2005 and other meetings preceding the Summit. During the Latin America meetings, the youths in attendance elected a committee of which Chris was chosen as the coordinator. They also developed 16 resolutions that were reduced during discussion in the General Assembly. Details of the proceedings of the Latin America regional meetings will be available in that region's happenings for September and/or November 2005.