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Enforcing Disability Rights: What Does It Take?

September 24 2018 - by Carole Houlihan, CLP's Gender and Diversity Specialist

Recently members of the Antigua & Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities (ABAPD) blocked access to a section of a shopping mall in protest against non-disabled drivers parking in areas designated for disability parking. 

Nineteen protesters parked their wheelchairs and walkers in regular customer parking spaces. This was done to make motorists feel uncomfortable and understand the challenge faced by a person with a disability, who is prevented from occupying a disability parking space because it   is being used by an able-bodied driver. This is the second phase of the protest which also involved posting violators on social media in an effort to “name and shame” motorists disregarding the law.

Bernard Warner, President of the Association for Persons with Disabilities and disability advocate, stated, “It is time enough for the attorney general and the head of the police to speak out against the discrimination that is existing in Antigua and Barbuda against the disabled community. The police have failed us, the legislative has failed us, so we are letting them know that they need to protect us.” [1] He also appealed to able-bodied motorists to stop using parking spaces designated for persons with disabilities.

Th e ABAPD is a non-for-profit Organization managed by volunteer persons with disabilities. Its mandate is to change the attitude of society towards children and adults with disabilities, and to improve the services available to disabled persons.

Following the protest, the Attorney General, Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin, met with Mr. Warner, officials from the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board, and the police to discuss legislation to protect parking for persons with disabilities. The Attorney General promised that amendments to enshrine the rights to parking access will be made quickly. 

Mr. Warner also appealed to business owners in the city to make their establishments more accommodating to people with disabilities by providing ramps and ease of access to disabled patrons.

The members of CARICOM have pledged their commitments to ensuring the rights of the disabled community in the region and recognize that the lack of accessibility is one of the key barriers to the full participation of persons with disabilities.[2]

Are the rights of disabled persons enforced in your country?

Have citizens in your country been educated about laws relating to persons with disabilities?

Do all businesses provide appropriate accommodations for persons with disabilities?


[1] https://antiguaobserver.com/disability-association-demands-protection/

[2] http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Caricom-pledges-to-protect-rights-of-the-disabled_15133636

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