More disabled adults than children
TECHNOLOGICAL DEVICES continuously plugged into ears, accidents as well as diabetes are the new root causes of adult disabilities in Barbados.
So much so, said a manager at the Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD), that the number of adults with disabilities has outstripped that of children who are born with them.
Operations manager at the BCD, Rosanna Tudor, told the Daily Nation that due to Barbados’ excellent health care, the island no longer had a high incidence of children being born with disabilities or of people acquiring disabilities in their childhood.
“We have a good early intervention health system and prevention methods now,” she said.
The new problem, Tudor revealed, was that more people were becoming disabled as a result of environmental, technological or health issues.
Figures released in 2012 showed that at least 850 Barbadians had amputations done in the five years previous to that year. Those figures also revealed that at least 215 amputations were done annually and, of that number, 160 were related to diabetes.
Admitting that she did not have recent figures, Tudor noted: “From what we are seeing, even within the schools, there are not as many (children with disabilities) but we are finding more and more adults.
“More people, we find, are becoming disabled because of the environment, because of accidents, diabetes, their hearing with these loud and technological devices plugged into our ears, people are becoming hard of hearing early.
“And this is why we have to get the adults to understand that they can become disabled at any time,” Tudor stressed.
She explained new programmes at the BCD were geared towards showing these new members of the disabled community that “when they do acquire disabilities, life does not stop there”.
She said the spending power of these people did not decrease and Fully Accessible Barbados took on greater meaning so that they could still “access the restaurants, they can access the libraries like they accessed them before”.
“Aside from creating the attitudes in their heads, we have to create the environment so that people know they can still participate, so they know that they can go to the beach, know that they can go to the cinema.”
Tudor, however, noted that the Council was heartened by the changing attitudes of society towards the disabled and the acceptance that people with disabilities also had rights.
“It’s a situation where it’s win-win for everyone because if you provide access for people with disabilities, you provide for able-bodied people as well.”
What was needed now, she said, was for employers to incorporate more people with disabilities into their workforces.
In addition, Tudor has called for more access to play parks for disabled children.
“Think of it, if you have a child at home and you are taking her to the park to play with children and your other child, who is in a wheelchair, can take part too if you make the parks accessible.”