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Disability in the Caribbean

Published date 2008-06-01
Author Karoline Schmid - Samuel Vézina - Louise Ebbeson
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With the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2006 and its entry into force in May 2008 ECLAC considered it timely to conduct a study on disability in the Caribbean.

The present paper presents an overview of definitions and concepts applied by the United Nations and further describes different concepts and methodologies that are available to quantify and measure disability. The results of a desk-review on policies and programs in the region revealed that much more needs to be done to sufficiently address the wide scope of needs of the disabled. In order to fill the knowledge-gap on disability, the focus of this paper is to present the findings of an empirical four country study using recent census data.

The data for Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago revealed rather common trends. It was found that the primary cause for disability were life-style related diseases that affected mainly elderly persons and among those more women than men. Males, on the other hand, experienced higher rates of disability in childhood and youth since they were much more susceptible to genetic diseases than young females. Also, as young men in their late teens and twenties partook in more risk-taking behaviors, such as driving and aggressive drinking than young women, they were also more likely to become disabled as the result of an accident than young women.

The study further looked into the accessibility of assistive devices, living arrangements and social activities of those affected by these ailments. However, in order to better understand the situation of the disabled also in the wider Caribbean, more information would be needed on the prevalence, the epidemiology of various types of ailments and disabilities as well as on particular initiatives undertaken by Governments and civil society to meet the needs of those affected.


Serie:Studies and Perspectives Series (The Caribbean) No.7

UN symbol: LC/CAR/L.134 - LC/L.2898-P