Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
ARGUING THAT the State has a responsibility to do more for the disabled community, Government Senator Floyd Morris yesterday signalled his intention to move a resolution which will, among other things, require making at least 126 schools islandwide friendly to the disabled community.
Morris, in giving notice of his resolution, said the Senate should call upon the Government to use some of the funds from the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) to "make at least one primary and one high school in each constituency accessible to children with disabilities".
He also said that some of the funds from the Universal Service Fund (USF) should be allocated to provide assistance on a one-off basis to persons with disabilities who were engaged in educational pursuits to enable them to obtain technologies to assist them.
JEEP, an initiative of the Government, seeks to provide emergency employment to Jamaicans. In phase one of the programme, which ended in July, the country's 63 constituencies received $12 million for spending on projects.
Phase two of JEEP, which is scheduled to begin this month, will see over $6 billion being spent on projects across the island.
In the meantime, Christine Hendricks, the executive director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, yesterday welcomed Morris' move to take the matter to Parliament. She said the vast majority of schools in Jamaica did not have facilities to cater to the needs of the disabled.
Special needs teachers
She said there was the need for special needs teachers as well as for the improvement of the physical facilities of schools.
"While we work on ensuring accessibility in terms of physical access, we have to work on the other kinds of access," Hendricks said.
Similarly, the Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, said the USF could deal with the request being made by Morris.
"The recently amended telecoms law makes special reference to the disabled community. There is therefore greater flexibility for the USF to provide assistance. I will certainly meet with the senator and members of the disabled community to review the proposal before submitting to USF," Paulwell said.