On December 2, the Bahamas National Council for Disability (BNCD) launched activities in observance of its annual Disability Awareness Week with a one-day forum focused on “Independent Living and Legislation for All”. The theme for the week of activities is “Differently Able” with the focus of raising awareness of disability issues, addressing the fundamental rights of persons with disabilities, and the integration of the disabled into the social, political, economic and cultural areas of society. The week of activities is in support of the “International Day of Persons with Disabilities” which is celebrated internationally on December 3, 2011.
In addressing the opening session, the U.S. Embassy’s Political Officer Dana Jea noted that while global progress has been made in recent years in advancing the rights of persons living with disabilities, there is much more to be done to ensure full inclusion, both in The Bahamas and in the United States.
“There also remains the global challenge in many countries to combat prejudice against disabled people who often face discrimination in the form of social exclusion, violence, discrimination in employment, lack of access to public facilities, discrimination in education and women with disabilities are at particular risk for sexual and gender-based violence”, she said.
The conference facilitator Tony Eames of California, who is totally blind, gave an informative lecture about advancing the rights of people living with disabilities and some of ongoing challenges they face in their everyday lives. She also provided insights on the role of service and guide dogs in providing independent mobility to the disabled. Friday’s conference also addressed education, employment, housing and transportation challenges faced by the disabled community.
For more information about the work of the BNCD visit the website www.bncd.org.