President Jagdeo assented to the Disability Act 2010 last November. All disabled men and women should have a voice in decision-making, either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions that represent their interests. It is important to emphasize that last year was spent working steadily on review, analysis, assessment and diagnosis of the bill and the system that are vital to better service delivery to the disabled and a better standard of living for them.
The differently-abled community is pleased with the enactment of the bill. Even with the act now in force, however, there is the notion that much still needs to be done. There is the discrimination faced by some differently-abled persons using public transportation, and in terms of public assistance, passes for the steamers, etc. However, there are hopes that the new act will allow differently-abled persons to be treated equally in all aspects of life and in society.
A society’s well-being depends on ensuring that all its peoples feel that they have a stake in it, and do not feel excluded from the mainstream. This requires that all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, should have opportunities to improve or maintain their well-being. We live in an age in which scientific principles are being adopted more and more to serve the needs of mankind, No country today can transform itself into a modern state without the development of the disabled. In the final analysis the one laptop per family programme can help the disabled and encourage and facilitate research.
The act emerged out of the historical experience of hardship faced by the disabled. I think President Bharrat Jagdeo came to realize that our rights had been violated, and that the protection of rights must be reinforced. It must be ensured that there is considerable feedback from all stakeholders sitting on the Disabled Board. The process will not be successful until all the participating stakeholders have honoured their commitments, and that means ongoing interaction with one another on the problems facing the differently-abled.