Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Morris urge JPS and NWA to remove "traps" for visually impaired

Published:Thursday | March 2, 2017 | 3:15 PM

Senator Floyd Morris has taken the National Works Agency and the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) to task over what he says are impediments on the nation's roadways, caused by these entities that continue making daily commute a dangerous undertaking for visually impaired persons.

Morris, who himself is visually impaired, said the current situation has to change if the country is to better care for those with the peculiar challenge.

"What hurts me is knowing persons who are visually challenged are having a hard time on our roads in many cases because of JPS and the National Works Agency," Morris said, while delivering the keynote address at the Lions Club of Kingston's launch of White Cane Month at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday.

"We have to make sure that the National Works Agency in the execution of their duties provide proper sidewalks and that they cover the manholes and that they train their team of workers to always be looking out for those of us who use the white cane to traverse the terrain," Morris said.

According to the senator, the JPS too must take care in how they lay out the infrastructure, as too many light poles are found smack in the centre of the sidewalks.

"JPS too is guilty too. It is a strange thing to have light poles right there in the middle of a sidewalk," Morris added. "How difficult it must be for those of us who can hardly see at all to manoeuvre that trap, when even those who have good eyesight are having trouble with it."

He added: "If it's not the poles, it's the support cable that is oftentimes found in the wrong place. These are traps to the person with disabilities in general and to those who are blind in particular."

He said while there has been marked improvement over the years in making it easier for the visually impaired, there remains plenty to get done going forward.

"The United States, Canada and Great Britain never reached their level of efficiency for the blind in their society overnight. But what I desire is that we take all or citizens along with us in recognising the importance in caring practically for those of us who have the challenge of sight," he said.

He said until the Disabilities Act of 2014 become effective, there is little the government can do, as certain things have to be in place to trigger an effective date making it law.

"When that is done and we have the law to work with them we will hope that the society treats people with this disability with the kind respect and care," Morris said.