Social Activist John Rullow is seeking to establish an organisation for the protection of the rights of the visual impaired.
Rullow who is visually impaired told a recent broadcast of “Sundays With George Grant” radio programme that he is generally concerned about people with disabilities.
He said the organisation, which is in the making, will be called “The Protective Affiliation for and of the Visual Impaired of Grenada League.”
Rullow provided the host of the programme with statistics of the number of people who are living with disability on the island.
He said the 2011 census revealed that there were 26,016 cases of disabilities in Grenada which has a population of just under 105, 000 persons.
According to him, out of that number there were 9,347 with visual impairment, over 4,000 with physical disability with more than 400 of them on wheelchairs, and more than 5,000 persons on island with hearing disability.
Under the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government, Grenada became the 146th signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on July 12, 2010, taking steps to affirm the human rights of people with disabilities.
It was then ratified on August 17th 2014.
However, Rullow does not believe that anything is being done by the state in reaching out to people with disability, adding that the rights of affected persons are being abused and violated in the country.
He described the attitude of the state towards the convention and to the individuals who suffer with disabilities as being “callous and malicious disdain.”
He said a person with a disability does not change the individual’s status as a “recognised subject of the state,” and whatever any other citizen is entitled to enjoy does not set the disabled apart from enjoying the same benefits and privileges.
Rullow charged that in Grenada someone with a disability is set aside, branded or treated as a shut-in.
“Once you’re shut-in, you’re shut out of things. You’re shut up because you can’t be heard, so you’re shut down. You’re out of compliance, you can’t work, you’re nothing,” he said.
The visually impaired activist stressed that this state of affairs has been changed by the Convention, which he said is regarded as inhumane.
Rullow also addressed the laws of the country especially those referring to people with different forms of disability as being an invalid or imbecile, broko or cripple.
He also said in the case the state-owned National Insurance Scheme (NIS), it categorises people who can no longer work as being “a disabled” which he regards as nothing but a degrading name.
He added that it is the duty of the state “to open the playing field” for those who are capable of doing certain things.
Rullow used himself as an example of being sidelined by the state.
He informed the host of the programme that although he cannot see, as a mechanic, he has the details of mechanics in his head, and is capable of teaching how to weld.
“I can’t get a job, not even to teach, why? Because I am old, because I am blind… This is discrimination,” he said.
“I can make a living. I don’t have to depend on hand-outs from anybody. Why can’t I have an opportunity?” Rullow asked.
The Cconvention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international human rights treaty of the United Nations intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.
Parties to the convention are required to promote, protect and ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities and to ensure that they enjoy full equality under the law.