Joblessness high among the blind
High unemployment remains a major issue for some blind people in Barbados.
Outgoing president of the National United Society of the Blind (NUSB), Rudyard Welch, highlighted this Saturday during the organisation’s inaugural awards ceremony at Bethel Methodist Church.
He said despite their ongoing efforts to improve their education, they were still receiving push-back.
Two years ago, 15 members of the community performed well when they sat Caribbean Examination Council’s (CXC) subjects at Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level. These included Principles of Business, Office Administration, Social Studies and English Language and they received 12 at Grade 1, 13 at Grade 2 and two at Grade 3, with only one failure.
“Getting employment in Barbados as a blind person is very challenging. I believe it’s because employers are afraid of the unknown and I think we need to sensitise them and let them see what we are capable of . . . . Sometimes they look at insurance issues. They may feel they have to do a lot of restructuring physically, but the blind person only has to know what the office layout is and after two or three times, they got it covered,” he said.
Welch added that they previously met with the Barbados Chamber of Commerce, but due to external challenges, those talks were put on ice.
“We were trying to have a memorandum of understanding since they are the umbrella body instead of going around to individual businesses. We had a couple meetings but when the economy had a downturn, that was put on hold, but we have tried to reach out to individual companies so we are still working on it,” he added.
He however thanked companies in the telecommunications industry, broadcasting and finance who he said took on some individuals for six-week internships.
The society is now going through its election of officers and he said this would continue to be one of the issues the Education Committee worked to overcome.
During the awards ceremony several people were rewarded for their contribution to the community including trained Adjustment to Blindness Officer Marjorie Watson who received the Personality of the Year and President’s Awards.
In addition, Transport Board driver Wallace Clarke, vendor Margaret Toby, announcer Carson Small, NUSB founding member Vincent Felton, former president Ernie Young, hairdresser Denise Vaughan, The Royal Barbados Police Force Band teacher John Clarke, Elviston Maloney and former Senate President KerryAnn Ifill also received awards. (TG)