The Antigua and Barbuda Association for Persons with Disabilities (ABAPD) has been well known for its frequent calls and passionate advocacy for better wheelchair access to business places and sidewalks, especially in the capital, St. John’s.
Following the recent passage of the Litter Control and Prevention Bill, the Ministry of Health, over the weekend, began preparing to install garbage bins throughout the city.
However, ABAPD’s president Bernard Warner is unhappy that his association was neither consulted nor involved in the process to assist in ensuring that wheelchair access points are maintained.
This comes one week after Warner put forward a proposal to the Cabinet expressing his interest in making it possible to include disabled and elderly tourists in activities across the country.
“We have been campaigning as an association over the last couple of years for barrels on the sidewalks to be removed. I believe that the Ministry of Health should have had some sort of dialogue with the disabled community,” Warner told OBSERVER media.
He said the members of the association will be waiting to see what takes place and determine how the installation of bins is going to affect persons with disabilities.
Sharing that he wanted tourists and locals to be able to enjoy the sites and services of Antigua and Barbuda, Warner also elaborated on his recent proposal to the Cabinet, which involves providing a special service whereby disabled and elderly tourists would be able to enjoy the beaches around Antigua and Barbuda.
“I believe that many of our visitors are being left out … many of the restaurants and bars are not really accessible,” he said, adding that he has seen people in wheelchairs trying to negotiate the city unsuccessfully.
Meanwhile, when asked about the safety and security measures necessary for his proposal, Warner said, “I think Antigua is a pretty safe place … but we are not leaving anything to chance when it comes to security measures.”
Warner made it clear that the main issue that needs to be dealt with is accessibility and inclusion for disabled tourists and residents.