First disability policy approved

Cabinet has approved Cayman’s first national disability policy.

The government announced Wednesday that Cabinet gave the green light for the first implementation stage of the disability policy more than a month ago, on Oct. 7.

“There are several benefits of the passing of the policy, including the establishment of legislation, which will help to implement the initiatives for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities,” Shari Smith, chair of the Policy Subcommittee said Wednesday.

Cabinet has also approved an inter-ministerial task force to identify how government ministries can help implement the policy.

“The task force is supposed to identify which policy objectives ministries could accomplish within the next budget year … We’ve identified action plans that the ministries should be able to accomplish within the 2015 budget year,” said Ms. Smith.

“The policy is really going to require an inter-ministerial commitment, as well as a public and private commitment, to ensure implementation of various aspects of the policy. The policy affects the entire lifespan of an individual,” she added.

Most of the ministries have embraced the policy, and the objectives of the policy are being worked in with their strategic plans, said Ms. Smith.

According to the statement, a legal subcommittee also produced a report recommending legislation to advance the rights of people with disabilities. The legislation will include the creation of a council to act as a watchdog for policy implementation.

“The National Council is going to be made up primarily of the stakeholders, who are persons with disabilities, and private sector individuals with interests in people with disabilities, with minimal presence of civil servants, who will be non-voting,” said Ms. Smith.

Earlier this year, a disability policy steering committee held a public consultation on the draft legislation, and 200 residents responded with feedback, following which some amendments were made to the final version of the disability policy.

“There were a few changes based on public feedback. We added a few objectives, a few minor revisions based on public feedback. Because key stakeholders were at the table from the inception, the revisions were not too many,” said Robert Lewis, chairman of the disability policy steering committee.

One aspect of the policy that was changed based on public feedback was the implementation of an additional strategy, which provides supported living programs for people with disabilities “to ensure the achievement of the highest level of independence possible.”

Mr. Lewis said the policy was the first step. Next comes legislation which will address employment, education, health and other areas, he said.

The draft legislation for the Disability Policy is expected to be reviewed by Cabinet by June, said Mr. Lewis.

Once the disability policy and the associated legislation is implemented, government will be allowed to send a request through the United Kingdom for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to be extended to the Cayman Islands.

A copy of the approved policy is available online at www.gov.ky and www.cabinetoffice.gov.ky.

Comments are closed.