A PLEA FROM THE HEART IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (22nd April 2020) – The CTU shares with its stakeholders and people everywhere, the following anonymous plea from a person who is blind, who asks us all to change for the better as we emerge from these difficult times:
“COVID-19 is a pandemic and we all hope it will be gone soon. There’s a message circulating around the disability community saying, “Thank God for this pandemic. People around the world now know what it feels like to be disabled.”
In the time of COVID-19, when you now go out and you sneeze or cough, people look at you with scorn; people don’t want to be around you because they don’t want to be infected. But this is how people in the disability community are made to feel most of the time. When we try to get jobs or even just go shopping, we are looked at with scorn! I hope when COVID-19 is over, people with disabilities will be treated with more respect and are given the opportunities just like persons without disabilities. So now you feel like us. You are also home. You can’t work. You can’t take care of your family. Most of you feel trapped and “disabled” because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope that everyone will now understand that people with disabilities, are people too. Not just blind, or deaf, or having have to use a wheelchair, who can’t speak, who have no arms or legs and all other types of disabilities. We are all human – see me the person, not my disability.”
So let’s all try to make each other feel at home and welcome, with or without disabilities. Let’s make things better for everyone. I pray that everyone is safe and continues to stay safe.
The CTU Secretariat received this heartfelt plea via one of its blind ICT4PWD facilitators who works with us to demonstrate the power of ICTs (information and communication technologies) to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) who are blind. The goal is to enable them to live to their full potential. The CTU has convened over 40 ICT4PWD Workshops for the Blind and the Deaf in nine Caribbean countries since 2013.
The CTU is also working with a global organisation, VTCSecure, to introduce the Caribbean Video Assistance Service (CVAS) for the Deaf and Blind. CVAS will enable those who are deaf or hard of hearing to speak with hearing persons via an agent (sign language interpreter) or those who are blind to receive assistance from those same agents when they need the help of someone who can see.
CVAS is a collaboration with the CTU; Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT); Digicel; the Trinidad and Tobago Association for the Hearing Impaired (TTAHI); the Blind Welfare Association; the Tobago IT Limited; PWDs and many others to pilot the service firstly in Trinidad and Tobago and then in other Caribbean countries. The CTU’s fervent hope is for CVAS to be available in every Caribbean country. For more information on CVAS, please contact, Trevor Prevatt on 1-868-628-0281, ext. 234 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) is an inter-governmental organisation dedicated to supporting the development of the Caribbean information and communications technologies (ICT) sector. The CTU also promotes coordination of ICT at the regional level, identifies and removes roadblocks to ICT development, keeps track of industry progress and responds to the needs of the ICT sector, all with the aim of creating a cohesive regional approach to an ICT agenda which embraces the needs of all stakeholders. The CTU is committed to ICT development that reaches the citizens of the region, creating affordable access to ICT and helping citizens to use ICT effectively to transform their lives.
For further information, please contact:
Caribbean Telecommunications Union
Tel: 1-868-628-0281, ext. 246