Cayman: Campaign launched to protect rights of disabled community

By Rumi Samuel Published on December 19, 2022
Cayman: Campaign launched to protect rights of disabled community

The government of this British overseas territory and the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) have launched a grassroots public education and awareness campaign to promote equal rights and legal protection for those with disabilities, especially access to parking or ‘blue spots’.

The “Save my spot, nah!” campaign has been developed to encourage compassion and advocacy for community members with visible and invisible disabilities who rely on the spots.

It also aims to rally the community to protect accessible parking areas and better understand use rules.

In commenting on the matter, NCPD Chairperson Magda Embury called on the public not to judge appearances or make assumptions about people they see using accessible parking but to be alert to vehicles that park in these spots without the approved permits or licence plates.

“Often, well-meaning onlookers may shame individuals for using the blue spots without knowing that they suffer from an invisible condition, and they are qualified to use the designated spaces for a better quality of life,” she said.

“It is also important to remember that the additional space next to the blue spots, known as the ‘crosshatch area’, is not an extra parking space, but rather an essential exit-entry space needed for motorists with disabilities who use wheelchairs or other devices. Unfortunately, sometimes these crosshatched spaces are often occupied or partially blocked by non-disabled drivers.”

Disabilities are any physical, mental or neurological condition that may affect an individual’s movements or senses, regardless of outward appearances. Someone may legally have a disability-parking permit or licence plate without having a visible mobility assistance device, like a wheelchair, scooter or cane. Invisible conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, heart conditions, asthma, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, may qualify someone to park in a blue spot.

According to the World Health Organisation, nearly one in every seven people lives with a disability that impacts major life activities. As people age, the proportion with disabilities increases, and of those with chronic illness, 80 per cent are considered to have an invisible or hidden disability.

Acting Cabinet Secretary Jason Webster said, “It is our goal to always protect the most vulnerable in our society and to inspire a new wave of advocates to further the goal of protecting ‘blue spots’ for those that need them. As we have entered the busy holiday season, we encourage the community to be ‘Blue Spot Heroes’ and leave the blue accessible parking spots for those who need them.”

Rumi Samuel

Rumi Samuel

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