Editorial for 22 June: Help needed for the disabled

People with learning disabilities struggle every day to
succeed in school and in the workplace.

But a prevailing problem in the Cayman Islands is that we
don’t know how many people – either children or adults – have these

The Ministry of Education, Training and Employment has plans
to put in place a registry next year so that the number of children in public
and private schools who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities can
finally be known.

There also needs to be a safety net for adults with learning

According to the 2010 Cayman Islands Census, 0.4 people in
100 have learning disabilities in this country, but advocates for people with
disabilities in Cayman say that number is probably under reported.

While government and private schools are getting pretty good
at diagnosing students with learning disabilities, getting diagnoses for adults
is more difficult because they don’t have teachers or school nurses who are
trained to look for the signs of disorders.

There are plans for a national disability resource centre,
which would act as a central clearing house for advice and information for
people with disabilities and to help them find the services they need.

Already the Sunrise Adult Training Centre caters to adults
with intellectual and physical disabilities, and they do a stellar job, as does
the Lighthouse School.

Many employers are also coming around, realising that adults
with disabilities can and do make dedicated and efficient employees. Some of
those employers have made long-term commitments.

Still, more businesses need to come on board with reaching
out to disabled adults to put on their staffs. Legislation and regulations in
some areas also need to be rewritten, such as the rule that those taking taxi
driving tests must take a written tests. There are other ways.

We hope that the plans for the registry and the centre do
come to fruition and that lawmakers and business owners make needed changes in
regulations and attitudes.

Many people with learning disabilities lead satisfying,
thriving, and successful lives and we need to do all we can to help them.