Executive Director of the Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities (DAPD), Nathalie Murphy is calling on the authorities to consider persons with disabilities when disseminating information with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Murphy who was delivering remarks at a press briefing held on Wednesday night said there is a major problem when it comes to catering to the needs of persons with disabilities.
“When we first heard of the virus, as an organization, we decided that we had to take immediate measures and one of the areas was that we started working onwards to ensure that persons with disabilities see the information necessary to enable them to deal and to battle with this virus,” she said. “Information disseminated to the Ministry of Health about the association’s concerns and some recommendations as to what can be done to ensure that person’s with disabilities who are in the highest risk are not too affected.”
She continued, “We were concerned with the way the information was being disseminated to some of our constituents, for example a person who is deaf [hearing-impaired] or hard of hearing when you have messages, public announcements in audio going out these people do not have access to that information.”
In Murphy’s view some sign language interpretation should be instituted for video presentation so persons who are hearing-impaired will actually see what is going on and understand so that they too will be able to ensure that they protect themselves.
She explained that at one of the press briefings, there was a demonstration on how individuals should put on a mask properly and she was confused.
“I was confused as a blind person because I didn’t know what was going on, there was nobody around to show us or assist us to ensure that the mask had been worn properly,” Murphy remarked. “We have people who are blind who live alone, they do not have access to pipe-borne water, but yet still we were told we have to wash hands frequently, sanitizing.”
She asked, “How do these persons acquire these relief supplies if they do not have the means to do so?”
Murphy added, “These are some of the things that really concern us as an organization.”
She also gave an example of a young man who returned from studies who had to be quarantined and who experienced great difficulty at the centre, “because the persons were not trained to deal with him… I am not blaming anybody but these are things we have to consider going forward.”
She believes that those persons who are mobility-impaired who depend on wheelchairs and other mobility aids they too, need someone to assist them.
Murphy went on to say that social distancing for persons with disabilities is a challenge.
“It has been and it continues to be a challenge for persons with disabilities…we would really like to ensure that the necessary training, the necessary support by those in authority, by those who have the mandate to ensure that this virus does not spread, that we as persons with disabilities continue to be provided for,” she remarked.