The lack of employment opportunities, access to vocational training and accessible transportation are among the main concerns of persons with disabilities, according to a recent survey.
The findings of a community needs assessment of the Open Doors Centre for persons with disabilities were shared at a workshop held on Thursday at the Regency Suites for key stakeholders held by the Division of Rehabilitation Services, Ministry of Health and National Centre for Persons with Disabilities with support from Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisa-tion (PAHO/ WHO) through a Technical Country Cooperation.
Persons with disabilities want respect and to be given jobs because of their qualifications and not because persons feel that they are charity cases, Dr. Beverly Beckles, CEO of the National Centre for persons with Disabilities in Trinidad and Tobago told the workshop.
To this end, Beckles also called for persons with disabilities to receive some sort of accreditation. “Not a certificate from Open Doors or the Ministry of Health, but something that is accredited. The Centre has to have a curriculum, because there must be an external body who is going to be doing that evaluation,” she explained.
There was also the recommendation to transfer Open Doors from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Education, since it was felt that it would be appropriately placed in this ministry.
Another finding of the assessment was the need for an official Guyanese sign language to cater for the different cultures. She recommended the lobbying for the establishment of an official Guyanese sign language.
Minister of Health Dr. Bheri Ramsaran said that the ministry will take on the findings and take the necessary actions. He stressed that we all need to empower persons with disabilities to make them equal to persons without disabilities. He also said that Open Doors will be engaging attention to make it an effective training centre.
According to a release from the Ministry of Health, the Guyana Persons with Disability Act 2010 provides for the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in Guyana. Persons with disabilities should therefore be provided with skills to enable them to engage in gainful employment and develop skills to compete for available and productive employment opportunities.
The Open Doors, which was started in May 2001, is a facility that is committed to offering educational and vocational training to persons with disabilities, with the view of providing them with employment to integrate them into the open society.