- December 4, 2018
- Posted by: Natoyah Fields-Harewood
- Category: News
Monday December 3 was International Day for Persons with Disabilities. In observance, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes, was on hand to present several laptop computers and tablets to representatives of the Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities, and the David Rose School for Handicapped Children.
This was an initiative of the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) which has interpreted the 2018 theme: “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality” as motivation to really introduce Guyanese with disabilities to the multitude of technological devices and apps that have been designed especially for the blind and deaf.
In brief remarks, Minister Hughes said that Guyanese are becoming more aware of the everyday struggles our citizens with disabilities experience, citing their difficulties accessing public transportation and securing jobs that pay enough to support them.
She took the opportunity to commend the media for the wide coverage of the tax concessions which Budget 2019 contains on imported vehicles that are specially equipped for the disabled; as well as the VAT concessions on smart cell phones pre-loaded with special apps for the disabled.
The Minister mentioned that some persons living with disabilities have become disillusioned by the treatment meted out to them and so they have chosen to lock themselves in. She then issued a plea to operators of minibuses and hire cars to be more considerate of persons with disabilities, to step out of their vehicles to help the disabled in wheelchairs to load the chairs into their car trunks, or for bus conductors to help those wishing to use minibuses to enter.
She also spoke of the need for more focused training for police officers who have difficulty understanding these members of society and, as a result, end up ignoring them.
“Today’s technological world allows us to move easily past these hurdles,” she stated, citing this as another purpose of the MOPT, i.e. to bridge existing communication gaps with the disabled with technology and training.
The NFMU has long been collaborating with the Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities, the Blind Institute, the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Center and other organizations to encourage their teachers and administrations to utilize technologies in all of their activities, including teaching.
Technology is a powerful tool and it should be used more widely to empower persons with disabilities, to ensure that they are included equally in life and living.