With populations ageing and an increasing number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases, the number of people in the Caribbean living with some form of disability is expected to rise in coming years. The prevalence of disability could increase by 30 to 40% between 2015 and 2050. In anticipation of this, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) subregional headquarters for the Caribbean is urging the subregion to take early action.
On 11 April 2017, ECLAC Caribbean brought together policy makers in the fields of disabilities, social development and human rights from Barbados, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as representatives of other UN and international organizations and other experts in order to review the current situation of persons with disabilities in the Caribbean, to discuss common priorities, and identify measures to strengthen protection for the rights of persons with disabilities.
The meeting discussed the importance of legislation and enforcement to make public buildings more accessible to persons with disabilities, and the need to ensure that transport providers are more sensitive to the needs of this group. It also addressed the responsibility of employers to more willingly accept persons with disabilities into the workplace and the appropriateness of quotas as a means to achieve this.
There was wide recognition that education systems must be made more inclusive for children with disabilities. While segregation or other discriminatory practices persist, it is inevitable that future generations will continue to reproduce the same attitudes and behaviours which prevent the equal enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities. Participants from several countries also expressed the view that there is a need to improve the quality of statistics on persons with disabilities collected from national censuses, particularly in respect of between-country comparability.
The findings of the meeting will also inform an ECLAC study on disability, human rights and public policy which will be published later this year.