Disabled Haitians receiving more Acceptance at Public Events

Haiti is catching up with the rest of the world in giving attention to the needs and rights of disabled persons. At 2014 Carnival, 40 disabled people participated in the parade. The first contingent in the parade, right behind the National Palace band, they were the center of attention, wearing t-shirts emblazoned with slogans, meant to trumpet their equality and inclusiveness among all citizens of Haiti.


The achievement of being able to march in one of Haiti's most well-attended events of the year was due to Gerald Oriol Jr., Secretary of State for the State Office for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities. Oriol himself is disabled, afflicted with muscular dystrophy since birth and consigned to a wheelchair as a young boy. Oriol says no official count of how many people in Haiti are living with disabilities has been done, but rough estimates put the figure at 800,000-1,000,000.

According to Oriol, an overwhelming number of people in Haiti with disabilities live in dire poverty. The possibility of this population getting educated and trained for employment is challenging. But he adds, it is getting better thanks to the government of Haiti (GOH). The GOH, backed by UNICEF, is developing policies to guarantee inclusiveness and equality for disabled persons.

The Ministry of Public Works is working to ensure all new building construction has accessibility features such as ramps, larger bathroom stalls, and grab bars to help disabled children navigate without difficulty at school.

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