From mindset to policies - the importance of inclusion of young persons with disabilities in the Caribbean - #iRespectU Interview

The University of the West Indies Centre for Disability Studies (UWICDS) and the CARICOM Special Rapporteur on Disability, in collaboration with a multi-stakeholder coalition including UNESCO, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Digicel Foundation, will host a Special Ministerial Conference for Specific Legislation for Persons with Disabilities in the Caribbean. The conference explores the issue of specific legislation for persons with disabilities to protect and uphold their rights in Caribbean society. 

What is your background and your current work?

Shavane Daley: Though I have been living with a disability, I have managed to remain dream-oriented. Today, I stand with a Master of Arts degree in Cultural Studies, a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a Minor in Entertainment and Cultural Enterprise Management and a Certification in Introduction to Counselling Techniques. As a means of contributing towards nation building, I am currently an executive member of the Jamaica Visual Impaired Cricket Association (JAVICA), I am one of the directors of the Jamaica Society for the Blind and an active member of the Combined Disability Association of Jamaica.

Why do you think it is important to engage young persons with disabilities to create a more inclusive society?

It has always been the cry of youth to be included, and among those youth are those living with disabilities. Often, it is the belief of many that once an individual has a disability they should be put aside or not be included. I am a strong believer, however, that persons who are living with a disability should be equally provided the opportunity to be involved in any aspect of society that interests them. For a more inclusive society we firstly need to open our minds in thinking that persons with disabilities are also amazing individuals, with a lot to contribute towards nation-building. After adjusting the mindset, we can then look into bridging the gap and allow easier access of opportunities for persons with disabilities. As a way to contribute and make this a reality for young persons with a disability and by extension youth in general, I am launching a non-profit organization which will see the inclusion, development and empowerment of young people in rural Jamaica.

The ideas and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee; they are not necessarily those of UNESCO.

1 billion

persons with disabilities

In the Caribbean,

there are over 1 million persons living with some form of disability – this amounts to more than the population of certain countries in the region. Nevertheless, across the Caribbean, persons with disabilities face multiple forms of discrimination and exclusion in their everyday life. Systemic barriers limit their participation in social, economic and political life and prevent them from realizing their full potential.

UNESCO stands ready to harness its expertise to support Caribbean countries and territories in identifying best policy practices to promote human rights and tackle intersecting forms of discrimination against people with disabilities. UNESCO places special emphasis on bridging the gap between research and policymaking, access to information, ensuring quality education and building a culture of peace.