Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 03, 2020 (SKNIS): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is working towards resolving issues faced by the disabled community put forward by the St. Kitts-Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities or the (SKNAPD), says Minister of Social Development and Gender Affairs.
The Minister was at the time making an address to the nation on International Day for Persons with Disabilities, which is being celebrated under the theme “Building back better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 World.”
“The St. Kitts-Nevis Association of Persons with Disabilities or the SKNAPD continues to fight for the rights of the disabled community through their outreach and awareness programmes,” he said. “The organization has outlined for my ministry the issues that need to be addressed and I would like for members of the organization to know that, we have heard your voices and the ministry, and the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis are working to resolve these issues accordingly.”
Minister Hamilton said that the need for programmes that target persons with disabilities, the need for a National Health Insurance that would help to offset medical bills, and among other things, the need for better physical access to buildings and public spaces, are highest on the list of priorities.
“The latter is particularly important because while many of us can easily traverse the steps of buildings and walk along the busy sidewalks, a physically disabled person might have difficulty doing so,” he said. “Of course, there are a few institutions that have improved accessibility to their building by putting a ramp in place or installing an elevator but there are many more miles to travel in response to those needs.”
The Minister reminded all public and private sector institutions that a differently-abled person is a customer like anyone else. “They too need to visit our offices, banks, supermarkets, stores, churches, restaurants, and our entertainment centers,” he said.
He added that “the SKNAPD rightfully noted that, the lack of accessibility not only affects our local disabled community but our tourism industry as well. This is because, without proper access to facilities, tourists who are themselves differently-abled, may have difficulty maneuvering around our beautiful twin-island Federation. This could affect their choice of a vacation destination, adversely affecting our tourism prospects.
We are therefore called upon to build better under the theme building back better, thereby enhancing our economic prospects.”
Minister Hamilton said that, due to the Pandemic, activities usually planned by the SKNAPD for the week have been reduced to a church service that took place on November 29th at the Antioch Baptist Church and a private Games day which will take place on December 03 at the Irish Town Community Center.”