Jamaica’s first blind senator visits Cayman

Floyd Morris at Kings Adventist Church on Friday. – Photo: Ken Silva

Jamaica’s first blind senator is visiting Cayman from Friday to Tuesday to speak about religious liberty and the need for the Caribbean to accommodate people with disabilities.

While the two topics may seem unrelated, they are inextricably linked, according to Floyd Morris, who spoke Saturday at Kings Adventist Church.

“A lot of the buildings in the Caribbean are inaccessible for disabled persons. We don’t have sign language in our churches to make sure deaf persons can understand the sermons,” said Mr. Morris. “We need those mechanisms because heaven isn’t solely for the able-bodied.”

The Jamaican opposition senator explained that people with disabilities have been involved with the fight to preserve and obtain the freedom of worship since Biblical times.

“One of the persons in the Bible who was instrumental in freedom of religion and liberty was Moses, because Moses had a speech disability,” he said.

In addition to speaking at Kings Adventist Church, Mr. Morris was scheduled to hold a book signing of his autobiography, “By Faith, Not Sight,” at Books & Books in Camana Bay Monday night.

He told the Compass that he is working with the University of the West Indies to create a regional disabilities index to rank the Caribbean’s English-speaking jurisdictions based on how well they have implemented the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Data collection for the study will begin this summer, and the index should be published by September 2019, said Mr. Morris. The Cayman Islands will be a part of the survey, he said.

Mr. Morris said this was his first visit to Cayman, and that the territory left him with a good first impression.

“I am impressed thus far,” he said. “Most of the buildings I have entered have ramps to create easy access for wheelchair users, which gives me a positive impression.”

Mr. Morris developed glaucoma when he was 14 years old in 1983, and became blind in 1989.

Though he did not excel in high school, Mr. Morris said, he later learned to read and write braille, which helped equip him with the tools to restart his education. He eventually earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of the West Indies in 1996, and later earned a master’s degree in government studies in 2001. He earned his Ph.D. in the same subject from there last year, becoming the third blind person to earn a doctorate at UWI.

He was elected to the Senate of Jamaica in 1998, and is currently an opposition member.

“My accomplishment is undeniable proof that no matter who you are or where you are from you can achieve anything that you set your mind to, even if at the beginning your road may seem as dark and as perilous as the one I was born to travel,” he said.

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