LIONEL SMITH believes that much more needs to be done if the disabled community is to achieve its rightful place in
If he had his way, he would expeditiously bring about that change to right the wrongs of “discrimination”.
Lionel, who is president of the Barbados Horizon Deaf Charity, was born deaf, and though he believes this disability should not be a major barrier to one’s progress, he said it is.
“The barriers are very real. Sometimes there are no interpreters on television and we need to understand what is happening,” he told the DAILY NATION. He said that in a world in which things were happening at a rapid pace, there was a crying need for more access in Barbados to make it more disabled friendly. This, he added, needed to be rectified in conjunction with people changing their attitude towards the disabled.
Lionel, 34, who attended the Irving Wilson School, said that despite being born deaf, he grew up “normally” and was taught sign language from early. “My only problem was not being able to hear. My family signs – my mother, brother and sister.”
Passionate and yearning for change, Lionel said that enough effort was not being put into bringing change at a governmental level. He cited the American Disabilities Act as an example of the level seriousness associated with stamping out discrimination against the disabled in the United States. He said similar action was required in Barbados.
Lamenting that a friend was recently denied a job because he was deaf, Lionel said that this could not have happened in the US since there were laws specifically designed to protect the disabled.
He said he spends his happiest moments with the deaf community, as they had a strong bond and were like one big family.
Against the background of the recently celebrated International Week Of The Deaf 2020, which had a specific focus on the human rights of the deaf, Lionel stressed the need for the understanding and use of sign language in the general society. “Sign language is the language used by deaf people and is recognised like any other language in the world.