NASSAU, The Bahamas – Senator the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, announced another initiative of the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs to ensure that persons with disabilities are employed by the Government.
“I’m very happy to announce that we are working to take these efforts to another level. The US State Courts, the IDB and the Erin Gilmour School for the Blind are working with us to use ICTs [information and communication technologies] to train sight-impaired persons as digital transcriptionists. We have asked that the digital transcription solution for our courts include the capacity for sight-impaired persons to be transcriptionists,” she said.
The Attorney General explained that workers with disabilities employed at the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs use the JAWS software and those at the Registrar General’s Department use technology that enables sight-impaired persons to see computer screens clearly.
“We find that hearing impairment is not a hindrance to productivity at OAG,” she said. “ICTs are making a positive impact on our ease of doing business efforts and sight and hearing-impaired persons are helping us in these efforts.”
The Attorney General was the keynote speaker at a workshop hosted by The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) in conjunction with the Government of The Bahamas and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union on Thursday, December 8, at Melia Nassau Beach Resort.
The aim of the workshop, entitled “ICT for persons with disabilities,” was to make policymakers, educators, broadcasters and persons living with disabilities and the public aware of technology that will enhance the quality of life and provide opportunities for persons living with disabilities.
Mrs. Maynard-Gibson remarked that it was in 2001 that Major Mason of the Salvation Army encouraged her to commit to including sight-impaired persons as members of her Ministry’s team. He told her that there would be significant socio-economic impact if the Government deliberately determined to employ persons with disabilities.
“In every Ministry that I have been a part of, and in the private sector, I have had the support of the Erin Gilmour School for the Blind in engaging persons as team members,” she said.
“We envisage the day when, using ICTs, there will be a division of the Salvation Army that transcribes documents for our Courts or anyone else requiring transcription.
“The ability of our Courts to promptly provide transcripts will improve efficiency in the administration of justice and our ease of doing business rating.
“Government has embraced the transformative power of ICTs. ICTs have transformed our lives. In The Bahamas, the first SMART Island in this hemisphere, persons with disabilities are participating in this transformation.
“The Government’s vision is for the creation of a society in which being digitally connected is a way of life, where creativity is stimulated and various advances in ICTs is encouraged, nurtured and developed so that the gifts, talents and capabilities of each individual are fully developed. It is important, therefore, that people benefit on an equal basis from the development of technology to ensure that they access an information society that is inclusive and free from barriers.”
Workshop topics included: “ICTs and Communication Accessibility for the Deaf.” “ICTs and Communication Accessibility for the Blind.” Facilitators were: Kamar Groves and Conrad Harris. Also participating were Stephen Bereaux, Acting CEO Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority and Trevor Prevatt, Consultant and Representative of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union. Representatives of the Special Education Section of the Ministry of Education; the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities led by Mrs. Sheila Culmer; the Erin Gilmour School for the Blind and the Centre for The Deaf were in attendance.