Please allow me a space in your widely read newspaper to address an issue that directly affects me and others in our country.
I am a person who is disabled and my ability to move around is greatly hindered. I conduct business in St John’s and it is difficult for me to get my business concluded in a timely fashion.
Firstly, the sidewalks are extremely high and for someone in my condition, they often times seem mountainous for me to manoeuver.
Because of this, I must, more often than not, walk in the road. I therefore become a road hazard and in so doing, I place my life in danger.
The money that was wasted to make them shine like the purist gold should have been spent to make them accessible to all, especially the disabled.
Therefore, a total reconstruction of these sidewalks need to be done to ensure that persons with disabilities can pay bills, and conduct other important business in St John’s.
After all, we are just like everyone else and we do pay our taxes. It is our right to experience and enjoy what some persons deem trivial, but is a luxury for most disabled persons.
In addition, the majority of buildings in and around St John’s, both government and private, are not accessible to persons who are confined to wheelchairs or otherwise disabled.
A law must be put in place where it is mandatory for these places to equip their buildings with ramps so disabled persons can enter the premises.
One such government building is the Social Security building. Disabled persons have such difficulty to access that building. How ironic that the place with the utmost responsibility to assist persons such as myself provides such difficulties.
Tourists visit our wonderful island on a day-to-day basis and some of these persons are also disabled. I have witnessed first-hand the difficulties that disabled tourists and their relatives have to just move around on our sidewalks and enter buildings to conduct their business.
In closing, whether we were born with a disability or it was brought on through sickness or through accidents, life for us will and must go on.
We do not wish to be viewed as a nuisance to anyone by always having to depend on others to get our business done for us. We also do not want to be confined to our homes to be excluded from society because of our limitations and those brought on by often-careless individuals.
Therefore, I implore the government and other relevant authorities to work together to figure out a solution to this very important problem.
Countries in the Caribbean that have already ratified this UN Convention on the rights of disabled persons are: Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Dominican Republic.
Antigua & Barbuda needs to ratify this convention.