FOR what perhaps could be the first time in the Parliament of St. Lucia, hearing-impaired persons will be able to follow what is being said there via sign language.
“We are welcoming in the House of Assembly persons with disabilities who will be sitting in the audience,” said Nicole Mc Donald, Senior Communications Officer in the Prime Minister’s Office.
According to her, also present in the House will be someone who will be translating through sign language some of the opening statements of parliamentarians.
“This is something we are very proud to do and something we are looking forward to continuing in the future in order to assist persons with disabilities in understanding what is happening,” Mc Donald said.
Government, she said, is also looking at a closed caption feature to add to its services to enable persons with disabilities to be apprised with government business.
“It is about time we put certain things like that in place for persons who have those kinds of impediments,” she said.
“Our government has a very strong policy towards persons with disabilities and we do want to encourage the setting up of certain things that could make their lives easier,” Mc Donald said, noting that already government offices are accessible to persons who are differently-abled or with disabilities.
The differently-abled persons in the House today are there in observance of or on account of International Day of and for Persons with Disabilities, which was observed last Sunday.
Today’s sitting is a continuation of the last time Parliament met. Up for discussion is the second part of a bill that seeks to impose an airport development charge of US$35 on all travelers on the purchase of an airline ticket, for the purpose of making payments for debt service requirement of a debt arrangement to implement airport facility improvements. The bill will outline how that fund will be managed and how it will be put in place.