Making a difference for people with special needs

An increase in the number of persons who need special care or assistance left Rotaract Blue eager to find out just how well such individuals are accommodated.

The club is proud to join other countries around the world in celebration of International Day for Persons With Disabilities on 3 December. In keeping with this year’s theme: Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all and in conjunction with the club’s Open Arms Programme, Rotaract Blue intends to promote non-discrimination for disabled persons and enhance society’s understanding of their needs.

Through extensive research, the club discovered that revised planning codes, improved architectural designs and great planning minds have provided a better representation of building requirements, especially as it relates to accessibility for disabled persons.

Since 2002, approximately 90 per cent of the new structures have been designed to include more detail of accessibilities and facilities such as parking space allowances, entrances, bathrooms, railings, ramps, signage, wheelchair accommodating counter spaces, and in some cases, alarms for those visually or hearing impaired.

Although it is not a requirement for existing structures to be outfitted with similar fixtures, business owners should be mindful in providing suitable work spaces for disabled persons, including that such employees should be given an equal opportunity to perform the essential functions of a job. For example, providing large-button touch-tone telephone for someone who has low vision or poor hand coordination, or wider doorways and more free space for easier wheelchair accessibility.

These requirements enhance the independence and shows acceptance of persons living with a disability.

Such improvements have also given the club a new insight into society’s role in promoting non-discrimination for disabled persons.

Unfortunately, many of us can be found guilty of parking in handicapped spaces, especially when you’re “only staying for two minutes”. Some are even caught using a handicapped bathroom stall “because it’s bigger”. Instead, let us enhance society’s understanding of the needs of persons living with a disability and stop discrimination.

In fact, have you ever tried tying laces with an injured finger? Or climbing stairs with a broken foot? Either way, it’s not that simple.

Quite often, some of us tend to forget how tedious life can be without suitable accommodations – in order to do the ‘simple’ things. This is a clear reminder that we should not take life for granted.

Each of us can help to make a difference in people’s lives by doing our part to promote non-discrimination.

The club thanks Mr. Michael Pratt, Assistant Building Control Officer, of the Building Control Unit, Mr. Robert Lewis, former Director of the Planning Department, and Mr. McCleary Frederick, Director of Hazard Management Cayman Islands for their time, knowledge and willingness to help the club with this initiative.

So how can you get involved?

Starting January, stop by various stops for information on the various disabilities and feel free to donate any loose change in order to make a change.

The club will also be providing the opportunity for companies to get involved. Whether through participation in a dress down day, offering a silent auction piece or donating time, companies can find ways to improve the lives of those with special needs.

And because one day is simply not enough time to honour, respect and care for those with special needs, the club encourages everyone to do these things each and every day.

For additional information on the Rotaract Blue Open Arms Programme or if you wish to become a sponsor or volunteer, please contact [email protected]

Rotaract Blue,

Cayman Islands

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