Parliament to become accessible to the disabled
The push to make Gordon House disabled-friendly has been backed by budgetary support even though the nature of the work that will be undertaken is yet to be determined.
A portion of a $25.6 million in the Estimates of Expenditure for the purchase of goods and service will go towards retrofitting of the Parliament building.
"The Parliament is currently awaiting final reports from the Urban Development Corporation and the team of Canadian architects who performed an accessibility audit of Gordon House last week before we determine the scope of the work to be done to make Gordon House accessible to the physically challenged," the Houses of Parliament have revealed.
"We expect to receive these reports within the next few weeks," it added.
Last year, the Houses of Parliament got $19.5 million expenditure for the purchase of goods and services, a portion of which was also slated for use in retrofitting the Parliament building. The funds were never used.
Minister of Justice Senator Mark Golding and president of the Senate, Floyd Morris, had jointly approached Dean Mellway, the acting director of the Research, Education, Accessibility and Design Initiative at Carleton University, for assistance in making Parliament disabled-friendly.
The team from Canada, in undertaking this task on a voluntary basis, collaborated with the University of Technology's Caribbean School of Architecture and the Urban Development Corporation, as Jamaican counterparts.
The results of this assessment will inform the changes that will be made to the Houses of Parliament allowing for easier access for the disabled community.
"This is a significant and symbolic development. It is important that the Parliament in which legislation was passed to give effect to the protection of certain rights for the disabled community, should be accessible to these citizens, and we need to set the example for others to follow" explained Golding. "With the technical assistance of an eminently qualified group of persons on this project, I hope that accessibility will become a reality in the very near future."