Why? Cayman doesn’t have handicap laws

Red tape. Public stigmas surrounding the disabled.

Parents, guardians, and caregivers
have been fighting for equal rights and treatment of the special needs,
providing a voice for the country’s weakest and most vulnerable for decades.

So is anyone listening? The answer
is yes and no.

In 2007 a steering committee for
Planning the Future for Persons with Disabilities and an ensuing legal
sub-committee was created by then- Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin.

 The committee, comprised of parents and caregivers
of the disabled, members of the disabled community and several others, worked
tirelessly to document the inadequacies of current laws.

 Mary Trumbach, mother of a Down’s Syndrome son,
sub-committee member and relentless warrior in the fight for equal rights says
the failings are endless.

Citing the lack of a proper law
that addresses the physically or mentally challenged, she also notes that the
only punishment for illegally parking in a handicap spot is wheel clamping.

 Once the problems were outlined, the group set
out to fix them; the result was one of the most the most comprehensive assessments
ever undertaken of the needs of the disabled.

 “It’s designed to protect people with special
needs from birth until death,” said Mrs. Trumbach. Adding the report was a true
labour of love by all involved.

The groundbreaking report, left no
stone unturned.

It will literally change the face
of Cayman impacting effect every aspect of life from education to health care,
to building regulations and recreational participation, to employment, housing
and safety.

The group presented the report to
Mr. Mclaughlin in March 2009; it was presented in the Legislative Assembly and
was unanimously passed as a white paper.

It was a light at the end of a long
tunnel for Mrs. Trumbach and other committee members, who felt all their years
of dedication, and hard work was finally paying off; they were finally being

The victory was short lived.

When the new government took office
the sub-committee was asked to review and re-submit the report to current
Education Minister, Rolston Anglin.

The group is planning to present
the report this month.

“I’m very disappointed that it’s
been delayed”, said Mrs. Trumbach.

“I’m hopeful by the first of the
year something will be done.”

Despite the setback, Mrs. Trumbach
admits both governments have been generous in their support of the Sunrise
Adult Training Centre over the years, as well as in other areas concerning disabled
adults and children on the Islands.

So why has it taken Cayman so long
to even come this close to ensuring not only disabled residents, but visitors
as well receive the same equal rights and treatments that we all take for

After fighting the battle for 27
years, Mrs. Trumbach says its clear public perception has been and still is a
huge obstacle.

“Years and years ago it was
considered a shame to have a child with special needs.” 

Unfortunately she’s found not a lot
has changed.

“When I was doing research I was
appalled, we are a very affluent and small community and I thought there would
be more awareness. We need to step up to the plate.”

Mrs. Trumbach says committee
members are planning educational awareness campaign that includes holding
public district meetings making the community aware of the problems facing
people with disabilities and how new laws will improve the lives of everyone
living and visiting the Islands.

In other words the fight will
continue until there’s equal rights for everyone in Cayman.

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