– says CARICOM Special Rapporteur on Disability THE Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Special Rapporteur on Disability, Senator Dr. Floyd Morris, is calling on regional governments to ensure that special measures are put in place to protect persons with disabilities against the Coronavirus. According to Senator Morris–“It is incumbent for governments within the region to ensure that persons with disabilities, who are among the most vulnerable group in Caribbean societies, be included and given special protection and support in the fight against the Coronavirus.”
“Persons with disabilities are particularly vulnerable because a large segment of this population is poor and therefore less able to make adjustments to their circumstances and daily routine to help prevent contracting this highly contagious and deadly virus”, he added.
Dr. Morris pointed out that persons with disabilities often suffer from chronic medical conditions, which make the virus especially dangerous, since they are less able to afford medical care should they need it. Based on this existential situation, Senator Dr. Morris reminded Governments in the region “to ensure that in offering support to their citizens, due consideration and support be given to the most vulnerable, inclusive of persons with disabilities.”
“We are living in abnormal times and this is where our true character as a region will be revealed”, he said; adding “this will be best demonstrated in our actions to protect and care for persons with disabilities in these moments.” The CARICOM Special Rapporteur on Disability is also imploring governments to ensure that persons with disabilities be included in national and Regional communications strategies, in order to ensure that the response to the pandemic properly and strategically caters to unique circumstances.
“Special attention must be given to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the communication strategies for COVID-19. In particular, Sign Language must be provided at all press conferences so that persons who are deaf can access vital information on this global pandemic.” The CARICOM Rapporteur also called for “special attention to be given to persons with intellectual disabilities,” recommending “easy-to-read materials be provided for these individuals.”
“One of the most significant arsenal in the fight against this disease is credible information and we must ensure that all persons with disabilities, including the deaf and persons with intellectual disabilities, have access to consistent and reliable information”, Senator Dr. Floyd Morris implored.
The CARICOM Special Rapporteur on Disability was appointed in October 2018 and has the responsibility for promoting a more inclusive and participatory society for persons with disabilities across the region.