Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are now set to have direct access to various social services, including police, fire, and legal services. This development comes as 180 people, including public servants, were recently trained and certified in Jamaican Sign Language.
The training was part of the Enabling Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (EOPD) project, funded by the European Union and executed by RISE Life Management Services (RISE).
Representatives from 11 government agencies participated in the sign language training programme. Among them were members from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), Jamaica Fire Brigade, the court system, health facilities, the financial sector, and civil society sector.
RISE announced that the Jamaica Fire Brigade achieved a 90 per cent success rate, with 36 out of 40 participants completing Level 1. Level 2 saw 28 out of 34 individuals finishing the training successfully, while 9 out of 10 participants graduated at Level 3.
At the recent project closing ceremony hosted by Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf (CCCD) in Mandeville, RISE Executive Director Nadine Chambers Goss discussed the initiative’s importance.
“The EOPD project emerged from a commitment to combat stereotypes, enhance accessibility, and provide essential support services to people with disabilities. By exceeding targets in sign language training for vital government agencies and the private sector, we have made significant strides towards fostering a more inclusive Jamaican society,” she declared.
The 24-month EOPD project not only encompassed sign language training but also included vocational skills training. The project provided HEART/NSTA certification courses in early childhood education, baking, and tractor and farm equipment operations for beneficiaries at CCCD and Abilities Foundation. Furthermore, it trained 20 persons with disabilities in carpentry.
“Providing people with disabilities vocational skills aims to empower them as independent contributors to society. The training paves the way for new opportunities and sustainable income sources,” Chambers-Goss added.
The delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Belize, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Cayman Islands, represented by Programme Manager Vanna Lawrence, expressed satisfaction with the project’s far-reaching impact.
“We at the EU are delighted to have supported this project as it assists the Government of Jamaica in meeting its obligations under the Disabilities Act on behalf of Jamaicans with disabilities,” she stated.