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Lee Sing: Disabled have same rights as everybody else
When people are capable of seeing a disabled citizen as a regular person, T&T will be on the way to becoming a mature society. Port-of-Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing said so at the T&T Blind Welfare Association’s launch of its Low Vision Aid Programme. The launch took place on Friday at the association’s headquarters on Duke Street in Port-of-Spain. Around 50 people classified as having low vision received special hand-held optical devices to assist them in the performance of everyday tasks.
Lee Sing congratulated the Blind Welfare Association and others involved in putting the programme together, saying the initiative separated primitive societies from progressive ones.
He said: “This morning is a special moment because it is set against a backdrop of ongoing barbarism in this country, where every minute of the day someone is being killed for absolutely no reason.” Lee Sing likened the prevalence of senseless killings in T&T to what occurs in Pakistan and parts of the Congo in Africa.
He said the solution to the crime situation was “ensuring that people who are not gainfully employed in work or study are made to do things productive.” He said the provision of vision aids to members of the visually impaired community was just one way of ensuring they were given opportunities to become productive citizens. Lee Sing also apologised on behalf of the Port-of-Spain City Corporation for failing to provide the types of sidewalks and roads necessary for pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired.
He said he was aware that visually impaired people required specially-designed pavements to ensure their safety while travelling around the capital, but the $20 million which the corporation received from Government was not enough to address all the infrastructural needs of the city. In his remarks, Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said that with 240 million people living with low vision throughout the world, it was important to ensure they enjoyed the same opportunities as other citizens. Ramadharsingh said the Government would partner with members of the disabled community in their quest for social justice. “The chain of T&T can only be strong when the weakest of its links is strengthened, empowered and given encouragement,” he said.
He also said his ministry was working towards ensuring the most vulnerable members of society had equal enjoyment of human rights and were encouraged to be self-reliant. In January, he said, work began on the construction of a specialised centre for the disabled at a cost of $11.5 million. He said the centre, being built in Carlsen Field in Central Trinidad, will be the first of its kind in T&T. He said also the centre will allow disabled citizens access to resources and consultation in parts of the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, North America and the United Kingdom. With sufficient funding and support, he said, the ministry hopes to build similar centres throughout T&T.
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