Businesses in Barbados are again being challenged to make a concerted effort to employ more people with disabilities.
Minister of Labor Colin Jordan reiterated the call during the media launch of the Deaf Ambassador Project at the Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD) headquarters on Wednesday.
He said the launch of the new initiative, which seeks to encourage more hearing impaired individuals to enter new job spaces, is an important step in normalizing cooperation between deaf and hearing persons for more fruitful economic and social development on the island.
“The objectives of the project to be launched today are to encourage hearing persons to interact with deaf persons and to heighten our collective awareness to the fact that our deaf citizens can also contribute to economic development, and indeed want to contribute, through involvement as productive workers once they are given the opportunity and once employers make reasonable accommodations,” Minister Jordan said.
“These objectives are critical; there are those employers who do not reach out or act because they are simply not aware.… Awareness building must be a continuous exercise and it will take effort, but I encourage us never to tire of educating and sharing and encouraging the inclusion of persons with disabilities.”
Under the initiative, six deaf persons are working in various job environments, from the video editing department at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation to housekeeping within the hospitality sector.
“Today, the launch of the Deaf Ambassador Project is another step for the Barbados Council for the Disabled to help you recognize that we, the disabled community, have a contribution to make and with your support and assistance, we will transform Barbados to be the truly inclusive country that we all deserve,” declared BCD president Kerryann Ifill.
Maude White, who is a Permanent Deaf Ambassador at the National Petroleum Corporation (NPC), said her work experience has been an exciting and fulfilling one.
Her advice to businesses seeking to employ deaf and other differently-abled persons is to be willing to learn and adapt to new ways of interacting with these eager workers.
“Another way you can make your environment accessible to deaf people is by relaying important information in a way that is clear. For example, some deaf [persons] can read lips, others can’t; some can understand written standard English, others not too well; some depend on sign language and interpreters.
“The key really is to find out the best way and the best method to communicate with a deaf person and to find out the best fit,” White said. (SB)