The absence of empirical data and statistics as it relates to persons with disabilities in Barbados is a sore spot and big challenge for the Barbados Council of the Disabled as they seek to advocate for the rights of this community.
Sharing such was the President of the Council, Maria Holder-Small as she made an appeal to employers to share their data with the Council.
At a seminar hosted by the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) this morning in the Warrens Office Complex, she lamented that “data are hard to find.”
Asserting that the problem is only made worse by the fact that this population is “not only marginalized but ignored,” she said that accurate statistics would be crucial in helping the Council and other similar entities create and raise targeted awareness where necessary.
After her presentation, she told Loop:
“Statistics? That is a no-no. You can never get statistics for anything. We are really limited.”
Asked if the Council ever considered partnering with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill campus to conduct research or surveys, she admitted:
“We have been trying to butt our heads on what to do. We would like to get a more accurate number of how many persons with disabilities out there, not only disabilities, but what and which disabilities. I would like to be able to say we have 4 000, 1 400, whatever number of wheelchair users, and this amount of deaf.
“We keep asking ourselves, ‘How are we going to do it?’ because we don’t have the manpower or the resources to do it.”
But she said that she is open to having a discussion with various agencies to get a better picture of what is happening with this vulnerable community.
“We have to do this. We have to find out how many employers have people with disabilities employed, all of that. Those are the things that we need to know and do. Nobody else is doing it so the Council when we see, we just do what we supposed to do. We do where we see there is a shortage and we really want to attempt the gathering of info soon, honestly.”
Holder-Small said that in the past they opened the discussion with the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) but she stated that they must revisit that conversation now and have dialogue with other agencies like the Barbados Private Sector Association and others to tag the disabled within the workforce and start compiling the data.